The way to a plastic free and low waste kitchenWiebke Venter
While zero waste is an amazing idea, it’s important to know that “zero waste” is an ideal. Going zero waste doesn’t necessarily mean you will generate no waste at all. It is nothing more magical than simply trying to live less wastefully, one small step at a time.
A look into your garbage bin tells you that the most waste, especially single used plastic-waste, is coming from your kitchen. More than one third of all produced plastic is plastic packaging mostly used in the food sector.
So, let´s take a look into our hearts of homes and see what swaps to make, to make your kitchen a less wasteful space.
1. Shop with reusable produce and grocery bags
A kitchen with less waste often starts outside of your home. Plastic and waste free grocery shopping is not easy at all, if you are not lucky enough to have a bulk shop close to your home. For any shopping adventure, don’t forget to bring along your reusable grocery bags. They are amazing for every shop where you can find lose produce, nuts and other dry goods in bulk. The best way to go “low waste”, especially about produce, is to buy from farmers markets.
Don´t forget your tote bag to avoid the unnecessary plastic bags at the till. Find more tips about plastic free grocery shopping here.\
2. Food wrapping and storage at home
To avoid food waste it is very important to store the food correctly. Always wrap and cover your leftovers and half cut fresh produce to prevent it from getting bad. Instead of using disposable cling wrap use beewax wraps. This organic alternative to cling wrap, aluminium foil and plastic bags is reusable, washable and compostable. You can use it not only for fruits and for veggies but also for cheese, bread, for wrapping bowls and even for sandwiches for the office or school. They are made from 100 % cotton and beeswax, which has antifungal and antibacterial properties. There is a vegan alternative available as well.
Another great alternative to plastic containers or plastic bags are silicone stasher bags. They can be used in the fridge to store fresh produce and freezer as well as for when you need a container on the go. While silicone isn’t bio-degradable it is a great alternative to non-single-use plastic containers in that it releases no harmful micro-plastic when used or disposed. Silicone is made from sand (silica) and carbon which give silicon products like Stasher bags the purity of glass and functionality of plastic while being recyclable and super long lasting. Stasher’s bags can even be used in the microwave and oven meaning they are great for reheating and de-frosting food without having to worry about harmful chemicals and de-canting your food into a container that’s microwave and oven safe. We have a selection of differently sized bags in our online store including those for storing meal prep or snacks and have a range of different colours.
To store food when entertaining or as left overs you can use bowl covers that are super practical and beautiful!
Find more tips on how to avoid food waste here.
3. Stay hydrated, but avoid plastic bottles
The most eco-friendly and affordable way to stay hydrated is drinking tap water from a reusable stainless-steel bottle.
You can easily keep track of how much you are drinking by just counting your daily refills. It is also the healthiest way of drinking as conventional soft drinks contain a lot of sugar. Bottled water is not typically safer than tap water. In fact, more than half of all bottled water comes from the tap. Besides, bottled water is thousands of times more expensive than tap water and water bottle garbage is a major source of pollution. Buying a reusable bottle is an easy way to save money and help the environment. If tap water is too plain for you, throw some fresh ginger, a slice of lemon or some mint leaves in. In case you need to keep your drink especially cool or hot this might be for you. When you are on the move you can ask any restaurant to refill your bottle.
4. Upcycle old fabric for washing and wiping
You wore your clothes until it almost falls off your body? It has holes and stains that can’t be removed anymore? There is no way that you can sell or donate these things anymore. BUT you can cut the old T-Shirts, pyjama pants or jerseys to use them as dish and wiping cloths or instead of paper towels. Old socks can be turned into a Tawashi dish sponge. That saves a lot of plastic and gives old material a second life. Win – win.
If you don´t want to go the DIY way, use dish brushes, pot brushes and scourers from coconut and bamboo rather than the conventional plastic versions. They are sustainably sourced and biodegrade after they have done their jobs in your home.
5. Re-Use glass jars
Glass jars are my personal favourite in the kitchen as they are so versatile. When you go grocery shopping, rather choose glass jars over plastic tubs since glass can be easily recycled and reused! You can store leftovers in the fridge and dry goods in your cupboard. It looks so pretty to have a shelf full of glass jars with nuts, grains and seeds. You can freeze soup or broth in them, too (don´t fill them to the top as fluids are expanding as they freeze). Even your craft supplies can find a new home in glass jars and tubs outside of your kitchen.
6. Kitchen cleaner
Since I started using this kitchen cleaner, cleaning is so much more fun! It smells amazing, makes all surfaces clean and shiny and the most important thing: It comes in a glass container and has all-natural ingredients. So, forget about all these plastic cleaners for kitchen counter, sinks, floor, stove and oven. This one is all in one. It does not only work for the kitchen, but also for your bathroom, windows and mirrors.
7. Food for out and about
In our busy lives, we are not only eating and drinking at home. This makes more space for disposables around meals outside of home like plastic cutlery, to-go coffee cups or plastic straws. However, for these things there are a lot eco-friendlier and cooler alternatives:
Simply, pop them in your bag or car to have them with you all the time.