Easy Steps to a Zero Waste Kitchen
Kitchens produce a lot of waste. But they don’t have to. When you follow these simple steps, you’ll see just how easy it is to have the perfect zero waste kitchen in your home.
Plus, don’t forget the kitchen isn’t the only room in your house you can make zero waste. You can also easily create a zero waste bathroom with these simple swaps, use these tips to put together a healthy and zero waste laundry room, and easily make an eco-friendly bedroom. You can even make a zero waste cleaning routine by following these easy steps!
1. Ditch the Paper Towels
Getting rid of the paper towel roll was one of the first switches we made when we started to work toward a zero waste kitchen. Fortunately, we discovered it was incredibly easy to reduce our paper towel use.
Related: The Best Reusable Paper Towels
We have a basket with clean cloth napkins on our counter so we can grab one of those instead of a paper towel when we’re eating. The unpaper towels are perfect for wiping up messes and cleaning the kitchen.
Feel like you just can’t get rid of paper towels? Then make the switch to one of these eco-friendly paper towels. They’re made with either bamboo or recycled paper, so they’re a more sustainable option.
2. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
The kitchen gets dirty, so you’ll have to do some cleaning. Rather than use chemical-based cleaners that can harm your health and come in plastic bottles you can’t recycle, you can make your own cleaning products.
You can make DIY cleaning products for pretty much everything that needs cleaned in your house. Here are some great options for the kitchen:
- Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner
- Homemade Granite Countertop Cleaner
- DIY Glass Cleaner
- Homemade Sink Scrub
- DIY Dishwasher Tablets Without Borax
Once you have your cleaning products made, don’t forget to switch to a wooden dish brush with a replaceable and compostable head. You can also replace that nasty sponge with a fully biodegradable sponge that’s more eco-friendly and incredibly easy to use.
3. Choose Zero Waste Dish Soap
In addition to DIY cleaning products, don’t forget about getting zero waste dish soap. You have a variety of excellent options.
Related: The Best Zero Waste Dish Soap
If you prefer liquid dish soap, you’ll absolutely love these dish soap concentrates. This all-natural, bio-based concentrated dish soap comes in a biodegradable pod. Simply add the concentrated soap to a soap dispenser containing 12.7 ounces of water and you’re ready to clean!
If you like solid bars of dish soap, you can go with this plastic-free dish soap bar. You can also find vegan dish soap bars. To use a solid bar of dish soap, just rub a wooden pot brush or walnut shell scour pad on top and you’ll have enough suds to start cleaning.
4. Get Rid of Plastic
If there’s one tip on how to have a zero waste kitchen that you immediately start working on, please make it this one. I absolutely cannot stress enough the dangers of plastic food storage containers.
Related: How to Reduce Food Waste at Home
It started when scientists discovered a link between BPA exposure and reproductive issues, Type 2 diabetes, blunted immune function, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and altered behavior in children. They were successful in getting the chemical banned from plastic products.
Companies then started to use BPS in place of BPA. However, new studies are starting to suggest that BPS has the same chemicals that function similarly to BPA.
Additionally, researchers started to warn us that we shouldn’t microwave food or drinks in plastic because heating them up increases the release of chemicals. Now they’re beginning to realize that these chemicals release even when the food is simply sitting in the plastic.
If all that wasn’t bad enough, let’s not forget that most plastics can’t be recycled. So when they eventually crack and break, you end up having to throw them away.
That’s a lot of science-y discussion to say one simple thing: For the sake of your health and the health of the planet, it’s time to stop using plastic.
Fortunately, you have several excellent options when you’re ready to get rid of plastic food storage containers.
Glass food storage containers are always a good choice because glass won’t stain or discolor, it never leeches chemicals, and it’s safe heat up in the microwave.
Plus, don’t forget, if you’re trying to go zero waste on a budget, you can easily reuse glass salsa jars, pasta sauce jars, and other glass containers you get from the grocery store.
If you’re looking for something you can use when you’re packing a zero waste lunch or as part of your zero waste travel kit, go with stainless steel storage containers. They’re strong, durable, and can safely hold all types of different foods.
Also, keep those young family members in mind when you’re getting rid of plastic in the kitchen. You can get plastic-free bottles for your baby and find plastic-free sippy cups for your toddlers and young children.
Lastly, take a look at the kitchen utensils and tools you use when you’re cooking your food. Are they plastic? If so, they’re likely leeching chemicals every time they touch your food.
Look for healthier and more eco-friendly kitchen utensils and tools. Here are some great options:
- Bamboo cooking utensils
- Stainless steel cooking utensils
- Silicone cooking utensils
- Stainless steel measuring cups
- Stainless steel measuring spoons
5. Go With Reusable Items
A big part of a zero waste kitchen comes from choosing reusable items over disposable ones. The good news is you can find a variety of eco-friendly alternatives to common household items, including plenty for the kitchen.
Related: How to Have a Zero Waste Cookout
If you dislike plastic food wrap as much as I do, you’ll love making the switch to beeswax food wrap. You can use beeswax food wrap to cover leftovers, seal bowls, and more.
For those of you who have never tried beeswax food wrap, here are several excellent varieties that work very well:
- Etee Beeswax Food Wraps
- Vegan Reusable Food Wraps
- Organic Cotton Beeswax Wraps
- Abeego Plastic-Free Food Wrap
- Reusable Beeswax Wraps
Even better, many of these options come from some of the best zero waste online shops, which means you know you’re making a truly sustainable choice.
Plus, if you like to DIY, you can even make your own homemade beeswax food wrap.
Silicone baking mats are another great reusable option to have in your zero waste kitchen. While using aluminum foil on your baking sheets makes for quick and easy cleanup, you have to throw away the foil when you’re done.
Silicone baking mats also make cleanup a breeze. When you’re done cooking, all you have to do is rinse them off and they’re ready to go again.
6. Buy in Bulk
Take a look at what you throw away in the kitchen on a daily basis. I bet the vast majority of items are food wrappers and containers.
Here’s the good news: If you want to make a massive difference in how much waste your kitchen produces, making the switch to zero waste grocery shopping will have a profound impact.
Now, here’s the bad news: It’s not always easy to get groceries without any waste.
Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.
Look for a bulk grocery store in your area that will allow you to bring your own containers to fill up with food. Organic cotton produce bags and glass mason jars are perfect for holding everything you need to buy.
Also, don’t forget to pick up this water soluble crayon. You can use it to write the weight on the outside of your bag or container. Then it simply washes off for the next time you go to the store.
Farmers markets are another excellent place to get fresh produce without all that excess plastic packaging. When you shop at a farmers market, you’re also helping your community by supporting local farmers instead of giant corporations.
If you don’t have any bulk stores or farmers markets in your area, you can still cut down on waste when you shop at a traditional grocery store by using reusable produce bags, bringing reusable shopping bags, and trying to buy items packaged in containers that are easy to recycle, such as glass, aluminum, paper, and cardboard.
7. Have a Zero Waste Caffeine Fix
Whether you prefer coffee or tea for your morning caffeine fix, you can make your drink zero waste.
For zero waste coffee, buy whole coffee beans and use a grinder to enjoy a fresh cup every morning. If you have a Keurig, you don’t have to give it up to have a zero waste kitchen. Instead, purchase some reusable Keurig coffee pods and put your freshly ground coffee in there.
When you’re done with the coffee, you can either compost the grounds or use them to make a homemade coffee scrub that smooths your skin and can even help reduce the look of cellulite.
Did you know many tea bags are made with plastic that leech the same chemicals as plastic food storage containers? Fortunately, it’s easy to make a cup of tea that helps avoid those chemicals and reduces waste in your kitchen.
To make a zero waste cup of tea, you can start by purchasing loose-leaf tea at your local bulk store. If you don’t have a bulk store, Arbor Teas sells sustainably packaged tea online.
Once you have your tea, all you need is a tea ball, tea infuser, or reusable tea bags to hold the leaves. Pour hot water in your mug and place the ball, infuser, or bag in the water to steep. When you’re done, you can compost the tea leaves.
8. Compost Your Food Scraps
We just discussed composting used coffee and tea leaves. They’re not the only food scraps you can compost to reduce waste in your kitchen. In fact, you can compost almost all of your food scraps.
Don’t let composting intimidate you. When I first began my zero waste journey, I thought composting was this incredibly complex process that was way too much work for me to handle.
However, once I started, I realized that composting is actually very easy! In fact, Mother Nature takes care of pretty much all of the work of turning food scraps into nutrient-rich compost that’s ideal for your garden and flower beds.
9. Switch From Nonstick Cookware
People around the world use nonstick cookware because it makes cooking and cleaning so simple. However, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding the safety of the coatings that make nonstick cookware, such as Teflon.
Some studies link Teflon to a number of health conditions, including certain cancers, thyroid disorders, liver disease, and chronic kidney disease.
Plus, when these coatings eventually wear off, you have to throw away the cookware and buy new pieces. In order to avoid any potential health effects from Teflon and have a zero waste kitchen, consider one of these best Teflon-free alternatives:
- Cast Iron- When seasoned properly, cast iron cookware is naturally nonstick. It can withstand incredibly high temperatures and will last for hundreds of years.
- Stainless Steel- Stainless steel cookware is durable, scratch-resistant, and easy to clean. It’s also ideal if you need to saute or brown food.
- Stoneware- People have used stoneware cookware for hundreds of years to cook food. Like cast iron, it’s nonstick when seasoned properly. It’s also scratch-resistant and can handle very high temperatures.
How to Have a Zero Waste Kitchen
Even though the kitchen may produce a lot of waste, you can easily have a zero waste kitchen when you follow these simple tips. Best of all, not only will these tips help you protect the environment, but they can also help you save money at the same time.
More Outstanding Zero Waste Tips
Now that you see how easy it is create a zero waste kitchen, are you interested in additional zero waste tips to eliminate even more waste from your life? Then be sure to check out some of these other popular posts:
- 50+ Awesome Alternatives to Plastic
- How to Shop at a Zero Waste Store
- Best Zero Waste Products for Beginners
- 9 Outstanding Reusable Straws for Every Occasion