Place your pantry staples in glass jars to easily see what you're running low on, or whether you still have plenty in supply

Here's how to make affordable and sustainable choices this Autumn

As well as helping you save money on your power bill, solarZero is all about helping you live a more sustainable life. If you’ve installed solarZero at your home, you’re already making a great contribution to a more sustainable lifestyle by powering your home with 100% renewable energy. But, it doesn’t need to stop there. There are plenty of other ways you can make your day-to-day more sustainable and reduce waste in your home. Every small change can have a significant impact - especially if you can convince your friends to do the same!

Organise your pantry

Pantries can easily become an unkempt maze of half-used bags of flour, rice and spice packets. Not knowing what’s in your pantry leads you to buy more than you can use, and having to throw away food that’s gone off. Kiwis waste 157,389 tonnes of food each year due to produce going off before we get a chance to eat it.

Having better visibility of what’s in your pantry (so you don’t buy more than you need) is a good first step to combating it.

Instead of leaving your staples in their bags, decant them into glass jars or see-through containers. This way you can see when you have enough, or if you need a top-up. Old peanut butter or olive jars are great for this. Soak them in hot soapy water to remove the labels to turn them into storage jars (and keep them out of landfill).

Best of all, once they’re empty you can take them to refilleries to top up with what you need. You weigh them before you fill them so you’re only paying for the produce you’re buying - not the packaging it comes in.

Plant a veggie garden 

Another great way to reduce food waste and reduce your carbon footprint is by growing (and eating…) your own veggies. This can be as simple as planting seeds into pots on your window sill or balcony, or as involved as creating a new garden bed in your backyard. 

A good place to start is with the foods you eat often and are simple to grow, like lettuces or your favourite herbs. By picking only what you need you can easily reduce your food waste - you don’t need that whole lettuce plant just a few leaves for your salad. Plus, you’re reducing the amount of transport required to get the food from where it's grown to your home. Your food now goes from your garden to your table instead of from around the country or even overseas. You’ll also be avoiding all the plastic that fresh produce often comes in when you buy it from the supermarket.

Reducing plastic waste

New Zealand banned single-use plastic bags from supermarkets in 2019 to help tackle plastic waste. But there are still plenty of plastic bags lurking in the supermarket - like those in the fruit and veg aisle. 

Rather than being tempted to use them for your apples or carrots, replace them with cloth bags that you can rewash to keep them clean and hygienic. And not all produce needs to go into a bag. Your broccoli can quite happily sit naked in your trolly without causing too much trouble.

At home, you can replace your plastic bin liner with biodegradable alternatives or line them with newspaper.

Create your own compost 

If you find you have a green thumb a great way to help your new veggie garden flourish is with ‘worm juice’ - also referred to as ‘liquid gold’ in the gardening community. It’s full of beneficial bacteria that stimulate activity in the soil and release essential nutrients like Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.

You can create your own nutrient-rich compost with an at-home worm farm. Creating your own compost at home also means less food waste as scraps and leftovers can be turned into compost rather than being put into the bin.