I am not zero waste, not even close (but it is something that I am striving towards). Over the past few years, I have slowly begun trading my trash for more reusable, environmentally sustainable options. I personally think that reducing waste in the kitchen is one of the easiest ways to cut down on waste. Cutting down on packaging waste is an obvious way that you could cut down on the how much you throw away, but I also want to share some suggestions of how you can easily reduce waste in the kitchen.
This is probably my favorite zero waste swap that I have discovered so far for my kitchen. I used to go through Ziploc bags like crazy. If I only ate half an avocado, the other half would go in a Ziploc bag. If I needed to bring a snack on the go with me, it would go in a Ziploc bag. I wasn’t the only one either. Did you know that the average American family uses 500 Ziploc bags every year?
When I started becoming more conscious of the waste I was producing, I started trying to reuse the plastic bags that I was using, but the bags would become gross after some time and would need to be thrown out. Then I discovered reusable silicone bags and I haven’t looked back since!
Silicone bags work the same as Ziploc bags except they are reusable, better for the environment, cheaper over the long run, and don’t contain petroleum, PVC, or latex like Ziploc bags do.
I try not to cook with oil very often, which means that I need to use something to prevent my food from sticking to the pan. I used to have to buy a roll of parchment paper every couple of weeks because I went through it so quickly. About a year and a half ago I discovered silicone baking mats, and I am in love! It is better for my wallet and for the environment. Win, Win!
I don’t bake muffins or cupcakes very often so disposable baking cups weren’t a huge source of waste for me. I know other people that do bake more often would benefit from investing in reusable baking cups. Even if you are like me and don’t bake often, it is still nice to avoid waste where you can. Also, my favorite part of these reusable baking cups is that glide right off of the muffin/cupcake, and don’t stick like paper baking cups.
I used to be an obsessive paper towel user, and would go through one roll of paper towels every few days because I used them for virtually everything. Buying reusable bamboo towels has been such a game changer for me, and has allowed me to significantly cut down on my waste. Paper towels may not harm the environment as much as plastic sandwich bags because they are made out of paper instead of plastic, but waste is waste. Bamboo towels can be washed and used over and over again.
Okay, so you might not be able to get rid of your trash can completely, or at least not in the beginning of your zero waste transition, but you can significantly cut down on your waste by getting a compost bin. When I first became interested in zero waste and learned what composting is, I thought that there was no way that I could ever compost. I live in an apartment without any room to grow a garden, I wasn’t willing to get a worm compost bin (that seriously freaks me out), and I didn’t think that there were any commercial compost facilities that existed in my area.
After a quick Google search, I discovered that there was a compost pick-up service in my area that I didn’t even know about! If you do some research you might discover that there is one in your area as well that you didn’t know existed. If not, try composting at home and using it in a garden. Once I move into my own house someday with a backyard, this is what I plan on doing.
Note: The first four items I purchased off of Amazon. It will be more environmentally friendly if you can find some of these items locally. Use Amazon as a last resort.