For most of us, the kitchen is the area in our homes that generates the most waste. Aside from the alarming issue of food waste, much of our kitchen waste comes in the form of single-use plastic. Though some waste is harder to reduce, like some types of food packaging, certain types of kitchen waste are quite easy to do away with completely by investing in reusable alternatives. It may seem daunting to change your kitchen-related habits, but some sustainable switches are probably simpler and easier than you’d think!
How to reduce waste in the kitchen
Ditch the Ziploc bags for Stasher Bags
This one’s easy. Invest in a few reusable silicone bags, and you’ll never have to purchase a box of single use plastic ones again. Over time, you’ll not only reduce your plastic trash significantly, you’ll save money! Plus, stasher bags will keep food fresher for longer, (i.e. less food waste) and they are MUCH sturdier. No more meat “juice” leaking onto your refrigerator shelf!
Take reusable bags to the grocery store
What we have in our kitchens pretty much all starts at the grocery store, right? So we really have the biggest opportunity to reduce household waste when we're shopping. By remembering to take reusable bags— and not just larger totes but smaller produce bags and stashers as well— you can prevent thousands of single-use plastic bags from entering landfills and polluting the sea. Small mesh bags with a drawstring are ideal for fruits and veggies, and stasher bags make an excellent container for buying bulk goods. It's also important to be conscious of the packaged items we grab from the shelves. Choose beverages in aluminum cans and glass rather than plastic bottles, and choose food products in recyclable or reusable packaging whenever possible.
Get rid of paper towels and use rags
It’s crazy to think that paper towels were only invented in the 1960’s. Paper towels do break down in a landfill, but they’re bad for the environment in other ways- requiring lots of tree fiber, water, and energy to make. To go a bit greener, channel your grandmother’s early kitchen habits and just use rags! Rags are a great way to re purpose old textiles- stained t-shirts, ripped towels, and more. Just toss dirty ones in the washer with a load of towels a few times a week. Simple!
Swap saran wrap for reusable wax wraps
Every once in awhile, there’s something you really need plastic cling wrap for- wrapping up a large or oddly shaped food item, or covering a bowl that doesn’t have its own lid. Wax wraps give you all the convenience of using plastic wrap without the negative impact on the environment. Wax wraps are made with cotton fabric treated with beeswax and other natural and biodegradable ingredients, and easily adhere to whatever object you’re covering. Check out Superbee or Bee's Wrap for more information, or to choose a few wax wraps for yourself out of the colorful array of patterns.
Don’t use disposables
Disposable plastic utensils, plates, and cups certainly make mealtime clean-up faster, but with a heavy toll on the planet. Even paper cups, which seem like they’d be more environmentally friendly, are usually coated with a layer of plastic and will not easily biodegrade. Simply use reusable dishes and utensils when at home, and invest in a metal bento box and reusable utensils for when you’re on the go.
Swap your plastic scrubbie for a natural one
Have you ever noticed how your dish scrubber “shrinks” over time? Imagine all of those little plastic fibers that shed over time swirling down your drain and getting flushed into our water sources. Opt for a scrubbing pad made from natural plant fibers that will biodegrade, instead, or a scrub brush with natural bristles. Steel wool is also a great option for more intense cleaning needs. For light cleaning, a good old fashioned rag will do the trick.
“Green” your coffee routine
Single-serving coffee packs like K cups or powdered coffee sachets are convenient, but add up to lots of plastic waste over time! Cultivate your inner coffee snob and begin using a French press coffee maker- it doesn’t even use coffee filters and you can dump your coffee grounds right into a compost bucket.