Saturday, February 23, 2013

Zero Waste Product Shout-Out: Salad Spinners

When you don't want to make any trash, you get a lot of food from the produce section. No bagged celery, baby carrots, or pre-sliced vegetables means buying plants in their whole, slightly dirty glory. That's why today's zero waste product shout-out goes to salad spinners.

I go shopping once or twice a week, and the first thing I do when I get home is what I call "processing the produce". I wash, dry, peel, and chop most of the vegetables I buy, in essence making myself a bagged salad without the plastic waste. Normally lettuce goes bad in a matter of days, but I've found I can make it last a week and a half if I spin it twice after rinsing and store it in a lidded container. I can fit two heads of lettuce in  my largest Pyrex bowl, which lets me have a generous salad for lunch for about four days.

For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, a salad spinner uses centrifugal force from spinning one bowl inside another to throw water off of greens. It's a handy little kitchen device that makes dealing with lettuce a joy, though it does take up a lot of space and is harder to wash than a regular bowl.

However, I've found other uses for my spinner to help justify the effort and space I devote to it. I use the insert of my salad spinner to rinse round or small fruits and vegetables (like tomatoes, zucchini, green onions, apples, plums, peaches, cherries, and red potatoes). I can save water by rinsing over the salad spinner's outer bowl, then dunking the insert in several times to thoroughly rinse things. I've used the bowl on it's own to serve salad, and I'd honestly use the spinner to store the salad in the fridge if space wasn't at a premium in my living situation right now.

At first I felt indulgent buying a single-purpose kitchen tool, but I use my spinner on a weekly basis, and have found the aforementioned other uses for it. The spinner I bought has a lock to keep the handle down for easy storage, a feature I sincerely appreciate, and has sturdy construction which I expect will last for decades. Of course, Ikea sells salad spinners for a very affordable four dollars, and Amazon has a plethora of options. Then, of course, you can always put your greens in a mesh bag and swing them around your head till your neighbors are scared of you or your salad is dry, whichever comes first.

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