by Emma Overholt
Next up in our Zero Waste Swaps series is the kitchen! Healthy eating is one of the most important things in living a sustainable lifestyle, so it is extremely important to pay attention to your habits in the kitchen. Continue reading to transform your kitchen into a plastic free zone!
Nothing is more important in a zero waste kitchen than having reusable bags. When I go to the grocery store and I see family is filling up an entire grocery cart filled to the brim with plastic bags, I have to shut my eyes. An easy way to reduce your amount of plastic use is to bring reusable grocery bags to the supermarket. Reusable bags are very accessible nowadays, now they are sold at the checkout stands at major supermarkets. You can make your own or using a T-shirt, or find some at craft stores and other online retailers. Although using plastic bags for other purposes after their initial use is beneficial, it’s a lot better on the environment to bring reusable ones.
Going off of the reusable bags, reusable produce bags are also essential. I buy a lot of produce at the supermarket, which in turn means I used a lot of thin produce bags. However, it is very easy to avoid using these by investing in some mesh produce bags. I found a super affordable set at Target and they have lasted me for years. They weigh little to nothing so that you’re able to weigh your ingredients at a self check out or in a regular check out line.
When it comes to fresh produce, instead of storing food into baggies or using plastic wrap, you can use this amazing product called Food Huggers. They seal your produce it and keep it fresh without having to use any plastic. They work great for peppers, onions, apples, oranges, or any type of vegetable or fruit – you name it. The varying sizes of this product are perfect for all our kitchen needs.
When it comes to buying items like nuts, flours, oats, rice, or beans, make sure to head to your local bulk food store to purchase these. You can bring your own bags, fill them up with however much you need, and then have them weigh your items at the counter. I know places like Winco, Whole Foods as well as Kroger, have bulk buys available. When it comes to bringing these home, you can store them in glass or amber bottles instead of having your reusable bags just lying around the kitchen!
Gadgets and Appliances
Next is technically not a swap, but it’s a valuable tip to keep all of your kitchen gadgets to a minimum. No need to have twenty spatulas in your drawers and two different types of blenders. Try to get rid of all the extra appliances and gadgets you’ll never use. Additionally, try finding things that can have a multi-functionality. When buying tools, avoid plastic tools and try to find stainless steel, wood, bamboo, or glass.
Avoid using plastic containers and instead, use stainless steel or glass containers. Although plastic storage is reusable these other alternatives will last even longer and are very easy to take on the go. Storing your leftovers in these is a breeze and look can be a lot more visually pleasing in your fridge (if you’re into that!). Most stainless steel boxes are also great to carry to-go food/leftovers from restaurants in order to avoid the styrofoam container most establishments use.
Next tip is to avoid plastic wrap and use reusable beeswax food wraps. These can cover the tops of jars or bowls to seal in leftovers. I used to use a lot of plastic wrap without even realizing it, so these beeswax wraps are very useful and having several of them in my kitchen has saved me from using any type of plastic wrap at all. There is a local business in my area who sells homemade bees wax and other bee products, so I find it important to support her and her small business. I encourage you to try to find someone nearby who makes their own before checking online!
One of the most wasteful products is paper towels. Ditch your paper towels and use reusable kitchen towels or cleaning cloths. I have a set from Costco and they have lasted me forever and I will never use another paper towel again! Additionally, you can also cut up old fabric and make your own rags if you have extra clothing or material lying around. Pop these into your washer after they have been used and then they are as good as new!
Next, I would recommend making your own soap. Lots of kitchen soaps come in plastic bottles and are not environmentally friendly. I recommend checking out our DIY zero waste soap post here or buying package free soap! Like mentioned in our bathroom edition of Zero Waste Swaps, major health food stores carry package free soap that is inexpensive and accessible
Last but not least, swap your waste and make your own compost. Compost is such an easy thing to do, whether you live in a traditional home or apartment. It is an essential part of any kitchen and will divert your food waste into a better place.