Simple Switches for a Waste-Free Kitchen
Reduce your daily waste from the kitchen by incorporating these simple switches into your life!
This is probably one of the biggest wastes we make in our kitchens! Think about it: we use paper towels for cleaning, for napkins, for draining that delicious bacon when it gets out of the pan… We use these all day, every day.
About two years ago, I made the switch to what are called “un-paper towels” and have felt great about it ever since! I made my own with half bird’s eye cotton (cloth diaper material that is super absorbent) and half a cotton material that matched my kitchen decor. I also bought these bamboo towels to see the difference. Turns out, I like the bamboo un-paper towels better–more absorbent and easier to clean!
For convenience, I keep a small wire trash can under my kitchen sink to hold all of the used un-paper towels. Then, when it’s time to do the laundry, I just add them to whatever towel load I work on next. Super easy, convenient, and it moves me one step closer to a waste-free kitchen (and taking those steps is what it’s all about)!
Coffee filters are not something I really thought about before, other than changing from bleached to unbleached filters. But finding a dishwasher safe, BPA-free, zero-waste-producing coffee filter has made my coffee drinking habits one less place where I produce waste! This reusable coffee filter is the same price as a plastic-wrapped, set of paper coffee filters. So the switch was a simple one to make, and it ensures that I’ll never run out of filters when I need coffee most!
Glass food storage is great for so many reasons. It keeps your leftovers fresh longer; it cuts down on the use of plastic wrap; it doesn’t produce the hormone-disrupting chemicals that plastic containers do; it keeps those plastic storage containers out of the world. Check out these American-made, glass containers to start your plastic-free food storage journey to a waste-free kitchen!
Despite being made of plastic, if there’s food on the plastic wrap, it cannot be recycled. And, of course, there’s always food on the plastic wrap. So, to avoid adding more trash to the garbage and plastic to the world, look for sustainable alternatives like this beeswax wrap.
I am so guilty of using and using and using Ziploc bags for food storage. But I have found these handy, washable, and reusable alternatives! This particular set is both freezer AND dishwasher safe (who doesn’t love that, right?), and they’re also BPA, PVC, chloride, and lead free.
Buy in Bulk and Store in Glass Containers
Buying in bulk saves money, waste, and makes your pantry look organized and beautiful with matching glass containers for storage! In addition to moving you closer to a waste-free kitchen, you also save money because you are not paying for the packaging that is usually created from plastic or some other un-recyclable material that the Earth doesn’t want any part of.
Bring these reusable bags to your local grocery store or co-op to fill up on dry goods like flour, sugar, and oats. When you bring them home, you can put them in coordinated containers like these made from food-safe glass.
Additionally, you can buy these produce bags to reduce the plastic in your grocery trips even more!
Store-bought cleaners typically come in plastic bottles that we use once, as long as the solution lasts, and then we toss that bottle into the garbage. Cleaning the kitchen safely and chemically-free doesn’t have to come from a store, and it definitely doesn’t have to come in a one-time use container.
You can make your own cleaning solution using this recipe and store it in a reusable glass spray bottle. Wiping up using unpaper towels or microfiber cleaning cloths is the cherry on top of this zero-waste cleaning method.
When properly composted, food waste can turn into nutritious compost for your fruit and veggie gardens. When thrown into the trashcan, kept in a plastic bag, the food waste does not decompose properly and actually emits methane gas. To cut down on that waste, buy a compost bin for immediate use in your kitchen, and you can either keep a tumbler outside, or use a blender for a compost soup (see how to create a compost soup here)!
For more information about composting, check out this article!
Bake Your Own Bread
This may not seem like a simple switch, but I can assure you it is much easier than you think! Those bread loaves at the store all come wrapped in plastic bags, days old from when it was first baked, with more ingredients in them than a fresh loaf includes. (Not only that, but have you ever enjoyed the taste of a fresh loaf out of the oven that you made yourself? There are not too many other joys in life that beat that feeling!)
To learn how to bake your own bread, check out this book or this recipe, and you’ll never want to eat store-bought bread again! If you are looking to start making bread or dough frequently, it would be worth it to check out this bread maker. I use it at least three times a month and it has been nothing but magical.
For bread storage, you can use an old-school bread box like what your grandma used to have (and understandably so!), or you can use these super cute linen bags.
You don’t have to go from zero to sixty on the zero-waste train, but it’s beyond easy to jump on board at a few different stations. These simple switches will hardly impact your daily life (except for maybe composting and baking bread), but they will help you get closer to a waste-free kitchen!
Here is a round-up of products mentioned in the article for your shopping convenience!
- Glass containers
- Reusable coffee filters
- Bamboo “un-paper” towels
- Beeswax wrap (plastic wrap alternative)
- Reusable food storage bags (Ziploc bag alternative)
- Food-safe coordinated containers for food storage
- Reusable produce bags
- Reusable mesh produce bags
- Glass spray bottle
- Microfiber cleaning cloths
- Compost bin
- Compost tumbler
- Bread Baking for Beginners (book)
- Bread box
- Linen bags
- Bread maker
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