Photo Credit: Alcazar Creative
You’re ready to take the zero waste plunge… specifically in the kitchen. It’s not for the faint-hearted but it is much easier than it may seem. The kitchen is where the magic happens—from delicious creations made over the stove to the table, where the family gets together to bond over a meal. When making the move to a lower-impact kitchen, you want to make sure that you’re not losing anything in the process, whether that’s functionality, aesthetic, or comfort.
When going zero waste, you don’t have to worry about losing functionality in the kitchen. If anything, you’ll begin enjoying the benefits of increased functionality because everything in a low-impact kitchen serves a specific purpose. Nothing is wasteful and everything has a reason for being there. From microfiber towels (and scraps) that can be used for multiple purposes—everything from cleaning up spills to washing dishes to wiping hands—to do-it-yourself all-purpose vinegar disinfectant, a successful zero waste kitchen is a hybrid of both the eco-conscious and functional.
If you’re a fan of the zero-waste aesthetic, then you know there is nothing to lose from a visual perspective. Low-impact kitchens are all about cross-promoting the visually appealing with the functional. Think glass containers that show off your gorgeous foods bought in bulk, fabric towels for cleaning up unpredictable spills, and lots of stainless steel, copper, and/or bamboo. There is nothing lost from a design perspective once you transition your kitchen to zero waste; in fact, it’s quite the contrary. There’s everything to gain!
Your kitchen is also a gathering point. It’s where your family goes to cook, to nosh, to relax at the table over a meal and go over the contents of their days. For this reason, you may not want to lose that comfortable feeling in your kitchen, but we promise you, going zero waste doesn’t mean forgoing that. In fact, everything in a zero waste kitchen should be functional and more important, easy to work with. Going low-impact doesn’t mean integrating a slew of strange contraptions that will transition your kitchen into a foreign place. No—you shouldn’t have to sacrifice that comfortable kitchen feeling solely for the sake of the environment. Luckily, with the following zero waste kitchen tips, you won’t have to.
Keep reading to find out five easy zero waste swaps you can make in your kitchen ASAP!
Go for glass containers
Photo Credit: Alcazar Creative
The number one rule of a low-impact kitchen is probably this: containers, containers, containers! And no, we’re not talking about plastic containers. In fact, ditch that yucky plastic ASAP. Plastic contains bisphenol A—known as BPA. It’s a chemical found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins that is known to seep into the food and beverages it houses. BPA has a proven negative impact on the functions of the brain, prostate, fertility, and is known as a “hormone disruptor.” Aside from BPA, other additives in plastic also have a reputation to leak out hormone-disrupting chemicals. Instead, opt for glass. Weck and mason jars are two popular choices amongst the zero waste community but anything works as long as you educate yourself on the additives and strip your pantry of as much plastic as possible.
DIY what you can at home
DIY-ing is one of the most effective ways to cut down on waste in the home. But the prospect of doing so might also seem really scary and time-consuming. It’s really not. With a few main staple ingredients, you can DIY everything from dish detergent, hand soap, countertop cleaner, tile cleaner, linen spray, and more. And there’s even more you can DIY in the way of food: you can make your own nut- or seed-based milks at home, flavored lemonades, or water and in the process, cut out tons of plastic container waste!
Build that zero waste tool arsenal
One common zero waste question is: What tools do I need? Stainless steel straws are definitely helpful in the kitchen for smoothies or iced coffee at home but we also recommend leaving one or two in the car or in a bag that goes with you. Our wood pot scrubbers are completely compostable and can be swapped in for sponges that are more likely to latch on to bacteria and have a shorter shelf life before being thrown out. Alternatively, silicone sponges are another great option because unlike regular sponges, they don’t hold as much bacteria and can last up to a year. Our unpaper towels are a great alternative to paper towels and napkins as they can be used to scrub down any spill or to dry your hands with. Afterwards, just pop ’em in the laundry! And if you need a deeper clean around the sink, stove, or on glass, pots, or pans our copper cleaner is an ideal option as it’s 100% recyclable at the end of its life span.
Ditch sandwich bags
There’s a lot you can do to cut back, especially when it comes to limiting plastic sandwich baggy usage. Stasher Bags are a silicone baggie alternative that come in several sizes. You can boil food in them, throw ’em in the freezer, and use them to store snacks on-the-go. Another option is beeswax wrap, which is a natural food wrap that is eco-friendly, reusable, and totally compostable after its year-long life span. They’re non-toxic, without plastic, and super durable.
Opt to compost
When it comes to trash bags, it may be difficult to eliminate the garbage can altogether but by starting an outdoor compost, you can eliminate a lot of what goes into your trash bag. Most edible things (from fruit peels and eggshells to coffee grounds and loose leaf tea) are compostable. Other compostables include coffee filter, soy, rice, almond, and coconut milk, and more. (Check out a full list here.) Pile up what can be composted each day as you cook and make meals then at the end of the day, walk out to the yard and add it to the compost pile. If you are too lazy to compost, there is a great company here in Phoenix that will take care of it all (Check out Recycled City here)
Remember you don't have to do it all but any little green change that you can make will make a world of difference. We strive for progress, not just zero.
What little green changes have you made in your kitchen that turned out to be life-savers? Let us know in the comments below!