How to Keep Your Produce Fresher for Longer, According to a Zero Waste Advocate

Kathryn Kellogg shares her go-to kitchen items to make the most out of your grocery haul.

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Committing to a zero waste lifestyle is not an easy undertaking, but there are always small steps we can take to not only benefit the planet but also ourselves. For example, thinking more carefully about what you actually need and don’t need before purchasing anything, even if it’s something seemingly insignificant and affordable. A simple grocery shopping trip is a great opportunity to practice. You can avoid creating more waste by strictly sticking to your shopping list, bringing reusable bags, and making the most out of the produce you buy. However, the latter can be the tricky part, since many of us struggle to actually use our produce and fresh ingredients before they go bad. To help you on that front, we reached out to Kathryn Kellogg, author of 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste and founder of the blog Going Zero Waste, who gave us some tips on how to make your produce last for weeks.

Kellogg is amassing a loyal following on TikTok (229,000 and counting), where she regularly shares simple and educational videos with tips and tricks for reducing day-to-day waste. Her content frequently features her favorite sustainable products, tips on how to save money while saving the planet, how to end food waste, and more.

Thrillist: How did you start your zero waste journey?
Kathryn Kellogg: It might be surprising but I didn't start going zero waste because I loved the planet.⁠ I actually started practicing many of these habits out of financial necessity and for health reasons. ​​It all clicked for me when I moved to California that the changes I was making to my personal health weren’t only better for me, they were also better for the planet. I started my blog Going Zero Waste because I wanted people to know they could save money, be healthier, and be more eco-friendly. It seemed like a no-brainer and I wanted to help people make this transition easy and fun.

What does sustainable living mean to you?
Kellogg: To me it’s just about wasting less and being a good steward of what I have. Buy fewer items. Use that last drop of shampoo. Upcycle your glass salsa jar to store leftovers. Reuse that promotional cotton tote until the straps fall off and then stitch them back on. Invest in products that will last a lifetime. Focus on timeless things that bring you joy rather than trends. Shop secondhand. Eat fewer animal products and more plants. And, remember it’s not about being perfect.

We need to hold corporations and legislators accountable to ensure safe access to clean air, clean drinking water, and a safe environment for EVERYONE.

Courtesy of Kathryn Kellogg

What are your tips and tricks to keep your produce fresh for longer?
Kellogg: When it comes to preserving greens, one of my favorite hacks is to store them in an airtight container. So for instance, a glass mixing bowl that has a lid, a Snapware container that's the glass that has a locking lid, a Mason jar, anything that's going to keep air out. And then I like to put a small swatch of cloth, something like a small cloth napkin on top to absorb any excess moisture and it will keep your greens fresh for weeks.

For something like carrots and celery, submerging in water is a great way to keep them fresh and crispy. I store mine, so they're open to the air. So I don't put a lid on top of them. I just leave the carrots exposed in a container that's full of water. And they'll stay crunchy for a really long time. Just make sure that you're switching out your water every couple of days.

What are your favorite sustainable products that you use in your kitchen?
Kellogg: I can't live without my cloth napkins and cloth towels. I don't use paper towels in my kitchen and I believe one of the reasons people don't like using cloth towels is that they often push water instead of absorbing it. One of the best things to look for is a towel with a wide weave. I really like bar towels, these are fantastic at actually absorbing water. And if your towels continue to repel water, it might be how you're washing it. So if you're using something like a laundry soap or fabric softener, what those do is they eventually build up a film on your fabrics, which will repel the water instead of absorbing it. So make sure that you strip those and that you're using a good biodegradable laundry detergent. Detergent, specifically, not a soap. Those are two very different things.

I also have Pyrex mixing bowls that have the plastic lids on top and then Mason jars. Those are kind of the three that I typically keep in my kitchen and I just like them because they're very versatile. I don't have a very large kitchen so it's really important for me to have things that multitask. For instance, Mason jars are great for many types of food storage. My mixing bowls can be used to store food, or of course, for mixing something like pancake batter and my Snapware can be used for leftovers or for storing produce. So just making sure
that I have an array of items that perform multiple functions because I don't have a ton of cabinet space.

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