The Problem 

If you have not read my first blog about the journey that I am on, please click the link here for reference. Oh yes, the first area I would like to explore whether I can make it more sustainable is the pantry. Probably one of the most cluttered, unorganized areas of my house. It is often a plethora of food items that do not expire for the next 10 years and the only form of organization has been however I could put it back in and have the doors completely shut. Yes.. this must be my first challenge.

Have you ever taken a look inside your pantry and think about how much of it isn’t recyclable and you’ll eventually throw away? Ever wonder if there is a better, more sustainable way to organize your pantry? I’m sure you’ve seen those posts on Pinterests with the cute mason jars and other various containers all lined up in a neat little row (see picture to the right for reference).. But is that really cost effective? Can we be thrifty while trying to stay trendy and save the planet?

Along with my lack of organizational skills, I also think about the crappy, over-processed foods I store in there. Do I really need to keep buying this crap? Are there alternatives to these snacks that I can EASILY (not recipes that require 3890843248 products or weird ingredients I’m not sure actually exist) make from home that are actually healthy for us to eat? Will this help motivate me to consistently cook healthy meals?

These are some of the questions and challenges I would like to answer through my research of Pinterest, DIY blogs, and other various media sources. I think the first task to any project is to establish the goal, the scope of the focus areas, and a deadline for when I would like to have this completed by.

The Goal

I’m tired of opening my pantry and seeing the same mess of processed food items. I feel guilty for purchasing them a) for my health and b) for the planet. It all comes down to convenience.. But I need to break out of that cycle and redefine what I consider to be “snacks” and “pantry items.” The animal that gets its head stuck in my plastic chip bag it found blown off the garbage truck in the middle of the road isn’t going to think it was convenient to suffocate, right?

My goal is this: Eliminate the majority of the single-use packaging of food products in my pantry by either changing the way I purchase it at the stores, make it myself and store it in my own containers, or decide that it is not even worth purchasing.

Scope of focus areas

Here are the list of food items I am targeting to either improve how I purchase them, learn easy recipes I can make on my own, or stop buying all together:

  • Tea. I have WAY too many boxes of tea bags wrapped in plastic. I would like to learn how to use those bulk storage areas in grocery stores and create a more organized tea area in my pantry. Also, I would like to research whether I can compost (yes, I am also attempting to compost..) these tea leaves.
  • Chips. Do I even really need to keep buying these? Are there alternative recipes to potato and tortilla chips I can make?
  • Peanut Butter. How do you make nut butters? Is it easy or not cost-effective? I have a Soybella I can try making homemade nut butters.. I think the bulk food item areas sell homemade nut butters and possibly reuse the containers. 
  • Bulk Vegetables. I mostly purchase potatoes and onions in bulk, and they always come in that horrible net wrapping. All I think about is it floating in the ocean and getting ingested by a whale.
  • Spices. These are pretty much ALL in a plastic container. Do stores sell this in bulk? It wouldn’t be pain to purchase them like that from now on when you think about how long a thing of cinnamon or italian spices lasts you.

Items I question:

  • Vegetable broth containers. This is majority made from cardboard, but it does have a plastic tip. Is it easy to make your own vegetable broth? Less sodium?

Items I am okay with:

  • Canned food items. I am okay with still purchasing these items because I can directly recycle them in my container.


Given the recent events of COVID-19 and majority of retail locations being closed, I will give myself until the end of the year to achieve this goal and document my successes and failures. I also hope to learn more about recycling in our area in general and how to properly dispose or reuse items. I hope by the end of the year to post a Pinterest-worthy pantry that is a sustainable, nutritional wonderland.

Are there any suggestions or resources you can point me too that might help me along the way? Please send help 🙂

“We can’t just consume our way to a more sustainable world.”

Jennifer Nini

Writer & Activist, Eco Warrier Princess