10 Ways To Reduce Your Waste In The Kitchen
10 easy and budget-friendly ways to reduce your plastic waste in the kitchen.
Reducing my single-use plastic waste in the kitchen has definitely been a longer process as there a few things like sponges that I could never imagine not having in the kitchen (although ironically that was the easiest swap). Don’t feel like you have to have these 10 items swapped by tomorrow, but maybe just think about what is almost finished / ready to be swapped or thrown out. Are you almost out of cling film? Did you finish your surface cleaner? Is your sponge ready to be thrown out? Start swapping out one item at a time so that it won’t make a dent in your budget all at once and you’re not creating extra waste. It’s a process, it takes time and if you’re reading this article it means you’re ready for the change, which is great! It took me about a year and a half to get all these swaps together and eliminate their plastic-alternatives, but I’m also not perfect and am still on the hunt for solutions! In the meantime, I hope this list will help some of you reduce your waste!
You might have seen the amount of jars I own in my Pantry Essentials post, and that’s because reducing your plastic-waste is basically impossible without these babies. Now you don’t have to purposely go out and buy new jars, but simply start collecting them after you’ve bought them filled with another food in the supermarket. Be mindful of choosing tomato passata in a jar rather than in a tube and you will start to grow your collection. To clean them simply wash them out with soapy water, and if you want to sterilise them (or get that stubborn sticker off) bring a pot of water to the boil with a tablespoon bicarbonate of soda and lower the glass into it slowly. Boil for a couple of minutes and leave to dry on a clean tea towel.
Produce bags and canvas bags
It’s a common #zerowaste myth that buying package free in bulk is super annoying because you have to take your million jars across the city, but that’s actually not the case because of produce bags. You can find them in all different shapes or forms, depending on how many people you are buying for / what you normally buy and they are perfect for buying all dry goods, fruits and vegetables. The only thing I need to take Tupperwares or jars to the store for are liquids or powders like flour. My cool mum actually had a whole bunch made for me, my sister and herself from an old bed sheet she bought in a second-hand store. Super cool! Plastic Freedom stocks some good ones alternatively.
Charcoal water filter
I used to have a Brita water filter and was quite happy with the infrequency you had to change the filters with, and was able to take it back to my supermarket who had a Brita recycling bin. that was until I heard of charcoal water filters. I won’t lie to you, the charcoal sticks come wrapped and vacuumed in plastic for health ad safety reasons, but once you have it you can keep one stick up to 6 months and then compost it. It filters water from chlorine etc and even adds minerals to your water. What I do now is that I have one of these sticks at the bottom of my Brita carafe (without the Brita filter of course) and I simply fill it to the brim with water before going to bed so I have freshly filtered water the next day. I will probably refill it once more during the day (since we are two people using it) and you can taste the difference just after one hour, but it’s definitely even better overnight. For uk followers you can get one from plasticfreedom.co.uk and in the US at packagefreeshop.com.
Tupperware and silicone pouches
I have an assortment of really old plastic tupperwears, glass tupperwears from ikea and a new stainless steel addition. You only need a few in different shapes and sizes and should be pretty good to go - my only advise is to buy them high quality (as in not at the pound store) to ensure their durability, as the lids often start leaking or not closing with super cheap versions.
Now let’s talk about silicone ziploc bags, cause they have been my newest addition in the kitchen and I am obsessed. Mostly because they hold anything form dry goods, powders, liquids and fruit and vegetables whilst taking up minimal space. This is especially good in our tiny freezer because I can squeeze a few together filled with chopped fruit for smoothies, bread slices or even soups I want to freeze.
Wooden dish brush
Swapping out sponges has been unexpectedly easy - I know this because my boyfriend didn’t just go out and buy a sponge out of frustration with my zero waste trials (I should write a blog post about the relationship dynamics of less waste - or a book?! ha!). So we proudly haven’t used a sponge in about 4-5 months, and you know what I don’t miss it! I now have three brushes - one simple wooden dish brush with natural bristles, the head can be changed every so often and composted, a long bottle brush made with coconut bristles and a straw brush that I bought with my glass straw - et voilà. You can also get a pot brush, which I had once but to be honest didn’t use that much…
DIY all-purpose natural cleaner (3 ingredients)
Constantly using it and at the moment swapping the lemon for two drops of different essential oils like lemongrass, tea tree oil, grapefruit etc)
You probably already own and use a fabric cloth to clean surfaces with, but in case you don’t just make sure when buying a new one that you don’t buy one made from synthetic fibres as they shed microplastics when you put them in the washing. I have a few made from natural fibres on rotation that I can always add to my washing. Here’s a cuter option than what I have ;) But you could also use old T-shirts and cut them up into squares!
For cooking, swap to FSC-certified wooden tools or stainless steel ones, I have a couple really old plastic ones, but I hardly use them as they are really not the best. I have a selection of wooden spoon and other tools, and a giant steel spoon and a whisk (never use these on teflon). If you take good care of your tools you will keep them a lifetime (or almost).
Now this might not be a requirement for everyone, and living straw-free is more than doable, but if you like to have one for your morning smoothie or for you water (I find that it sometimes makes me drink more not sure why) you can choose between bamboo, glass or stainless steel options that are now pretty widely available. If you are having a party and would like to serve drinks with straws, I suggest buying a pack of wheat straws - be careful about gluten intolerant guests and instead offer them one of your reusable ones to hold on to for the night.
Wax wraps are a great alternative to cling film. You can use them to cover up dishes, wrap breaf to keep it fresh, pack sandwiches or other non-liquid food items and you don’t need rubber bands or anything as the wrap makes them slightly sticky. To clean them simply brush them with a soapy dish brush soaked in hot water, don’t put them in the washing or expose them to too much water as they will start to loose the sticky wax. I got mine here.