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The Zero Waste Kitchen

I’m Amy, and two years ago I opened Awesome Wales Zero Waste Store in Barry with my partner Stuart. We had watched the Blue Planet II documentary with Sir David Attenborough which highlighted the impact of waste plastic in our seas and oceans. We decided that we wanted to try to reduce the amount of single-use plastic packaging that we were using at home, especially in our food shopping. But, we were frustrated that there were no shops in the Vale of Glamorgan where you could bring your own containers to shop for items such as rice, pasta, dried fruit and herbs and spices. We were stuck travelling a 20 mile round trip into Cardiff to visits zero waste stores there, but it seemed counterproductive to be increasing our carbon footprint with a weekly visit. So, we decided to open our very own zero waste store in Holton Road in Barry and we opened our doors in July 2019. The store sells over 2000 products including loose food, toiletries and cleaning products where you can fill your own container, plus eco friendly toys, gifts and books.

Today I wanted to share some of the ideas we have picked up along our zero waste journey, to help you to reduce the amount of single-use plastic that you have in your kitchen, to reduce food waste and help you to discover some awesome local traders who are pioneering eco friendly shopping in the Vale of Glamorgan.

What special kit do I need to shop Zero Waste?

The most important thing you need to remember when you’re shopping zero waste is that you don’t need any special kit to get started. While Instagram may show you beautiful pictures of organic tote bags, bamboo containers and clip top jars, you probably already have something suitable at home. And that’s even better for the environment.

For loose food such as rice, pasta, dried fruit and nuts, try some of these ideas…

  • you could use an old takeaway tub, these are great as it’s easy to see what is inside too
  • the ziplock bags that come with cheese, nuts and dried fruit inside can be washed and reused for shopping over and over again
  • plastic protein drink shakers make the perfect container for small items like rice as you can pour straight out of the spout
  • if you’re buying flour, bring your old flour bags, they’re surprisingly strong and easy to recognise when you get home

I’ve even seen customers filling old babies bottles with apricots, pillowcases filled with oats and a hat filled with tomatoes! Don’t worry if your zero waste shopping kit doesn’t look perfect, it’s so much better for the planet to use what you already have, and cheaper too! What items do you have at home that you could reuse?

Isn’t eco-friendly shopping really expensive?

That’s a bit of a myth. Zero Waste shopping doesn’t need to be expensive, in fact, once you get stuck in you may find that you’re saving money overall. I find that certain items save a lot of money, especially things like dried herbs. It only costs me 14p to refill my jar of dried basil that would cost at least 50p in a cheap supermarket. Plus I’m not creating the demand for a new glass jar which will require energy to recycle.

Dried pulses, beans and grains can be a good place to make savings too, starting at around 11p per 100g, plus they’re nutritious, easy to cook with and so versatile as you can create hundreds of different recipes. And no plastic waste – just fill your own container with what you need.

Buying the amount you need, rather than being forced by supermarkets to buy bulk packs can save money on your weekly shop too.

Buy by weight – bye bye waste

Trying a new recipe? You can save money and cut food waste by buying exactly the amount of each ingredient you need. If you only want 125g of pudding rice or 12g of smoked paprika, you can weigh out what you need at your nearest zero waste store. You won’t have half empty packages and jars at the back of the cupboard which get thrown out during your next KonMari session.

Some items taste so much better when they’re bought little-and-often so that they are as fresh as possible, especially ground spices like chilli, paprika, curry powders and turmeric.

Food waste is a huge issue, with nearly £10 billion worth of food being thrown away every year in the UK alone. You can cut food waste starting in your own kitchen by taking some of the tips we have shared.

Love fresh fruit and veggies? Check out your local greengrocer or try a local veg box scheme

At Awesome, our customers often describe their Veg Box delivery as “like Christmas” because the produce changes to fit the seasons and there’s always something new to enjoy. A weekly or fortnightly veg box delivery encourages you to be a little more creative with your meal planning and cooking, plus you don’t have to worry about popping to the shops. Veg box delivery is offered by Awesome Wales and Elwyn’s Produce (see list at the bottom of the page).

If a veg box is too much for you, why not check out your local greengrocer, there are so many great options across the Vale where you can pick up loose fruit and vegetables. Remember to bring your own reusable bags and containers because even a paper bag has a carbon footprint. Your local greengrocer will be able to advise you what is in season, how to cook with the more ‘weird and wonderful’ ingredients and how to store your fresh produce for the best shelf life too.

That all sounds great – but what about snacks and treats?

I’m definitely partial to a little treat every now and then, but the great news is that shopping zero waste doesn’t have to be all veggies and lentils! Here are a few great options that are available…

Two Farmers crisps are produced in the UK in home-compostable packaging, that means you can pop the bag into your compost bin at home and it will compost completely within 6 months.

There are also lots of other snacks and treats that you can pick up at your local zero waste store, including, nuts, dried fruits, bombay mix, or pick and mix sweets. Our favourites are dark chocolate coffee beans and fizzy vegan jelly sweets.

Where can I shop Zero Waste in the Vale of Glamorgan?

Thankfully, since we started Awesome Wales, there are now lots of options to shop without plastic waste in the Vale, including some newcomers and a few hidden gems, here’s a few that we would recommend…

Home delivery across the Vale of Glamorgan

Awesome Wales Home Delivery – veg box subscriptions, wholefoods and groceries delivered to your door

Elwyn’s Produce – Locally grown veg bag delivery

Barry

Awesome Wales Zero Waste Store Barry – 74 Holton Road, Barry CF63 4HE

Jacquie’s Greengrocer – High Street, Barry

Sarah’s Fruit and Veg – Park Crescent, Barry

Cowbridge

Awesome Wales Zero Waste Store Cowbridge – 44 High Street, Cowbridge CF71 7AG

Cowbridge Farm Shop – Marlborough Grange Farm, Cowbridge

Cowbridge Farmers Market – Every Saturday in Arthur John’s Car Park

The Cowbridge Food Collective – Online Farmer’s Market, click and collect every Thursday

Forage Farm Shop – Penllyn Estate, Cowbridge

Strawberry Fields Greengrocer – The Old Institute, Cowbridge

Llantwit

Major Refill – toiletries refill service

Penarth

Zero Penarth – Windsor Arcade, Penarth

Windsor Fruit Stores – Windsor Arcade, Penarth

Have we forgotten any handy tips or shops local to you? Drop us an email to amy@awesome.wales. And remember your containers!

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