You’ve seen it a thousand times by now. The campaigns for companies ‘Going Green’ and ‘Reducing Their Carbon footprint.’ The big question is – are you considering how you can do that in your own home? The Zero-Waste kitchen movement is an easy way to start incorporating minimalism and eco-friendly practices in your own home- without the headache.
‘Going green’ sounds like a monster of a task right? Happy to report it’s been anything but another thing to add to the last of things I didn’t have time for. There’s a natural way to implement going green and reduce your impact on the environment!
The Zero-Waste Crazy Long List of Benefits
How does swapping out products in your home relate to anything beneficial for you? That’s the million-dollar question big companies that make plastic non-reusable bags, non-eco-friendly toothbrushes, and dryer sheets don’t want you to have the answer to. Here’s the thing- making the switch to a zero-waste mindset means you’re choosing to have a positive impact on your life in many ways.
For Ev and I – the most significant impact of ‘zero-waste’ is that it puts more money back into our wallets and allows us to do more of what we love: traveling. (Which we try to do responsibly! More on that another time.) The thing is- if you start traveling to other countries you’re going to notice something- a complete and total lack of plastic, nonreusable EXPENSIVE products. You probably think paper-towels aren’t expensive..? But if you do a real cost break down, you’re spending a ton every year to commit to paper towel usage. Buying them, remembering to replace them, driving to get them, or paying to have them sent to your house regularly. It’s not just the $1.29 you’re spending on average per roll… it’s everything around obtaining the ‘convenience’ of paper towels.
The Biggest Sources of Waste In Kitchens
- Food Waste
- Food Packaging Waste
- Cleaning Supplies Trash
Phasing in these budget-friendly products surrounds one of these three areas. If you have a lot of food waste in your kitchen, it could be because you need storage containers or little hacks like a brown sugar saver. Anything to keep you from having to throw away food that contributes to the global waste problem is the goal! Another way is to shop locally for farmers’ markets and shop more frequently. If you only go to the grocery once a week- you’re more likely to overbuy and throw out what goes bad. Shopping more frequently means you’ll be more likely to only buy what you need, and there’s less of a chance for it to go bad.
Food packaging waste is another big area of kitchen waste. It’s not easily avoided in Western cultures but our biggest shift was buying meats from delis or in bulk from places like Costco. Buying from either of these options reduces the amount of packaging waste. Think about prepackaged fish – when you buy it from a major commercial grocery store – the fillets are typically individually packaged. A deli won’t package your fillets that way, and you’ll be able to recycle the packaging.
To reduce cleaning supply waste – I’ve listed some products in the last section that we use frequently in our kitchen. Think bio-degradable, re-useable, and non-toxic!
Phase in Eco-Friendly Products Without Spending a Fortune
Remember the point of ‘Reduce. Re-Use. Recycle.’ It’s to look at our consumption and try to consciously chose better for all the reasons above. This means when you’re thinking about implementing eco-friendly products – do it slowly and as you need them. Don’t go dump all of your old stuff in the bin and run out to buy all the new products. That’s not the point.
Do you remember when quarantine started and everyone went and bought all the toilet paper? It was unnecessary, and only an emotional stress reaction. Going out and buying all the products here is the same thing – an emotional stress reaction. Not to mention that if you throw away everything all at once, you’re only contributing to the waste problem the world is experiencing.
If you live in a small town, chances are you don’t have access to local resources for non-toxic, eco-friendly products. The products below would have to be shipped, but if all of the packaging and the boxes they come in are recyclable – you’re heading in the right direction. Amazon has been a great resource because they’ve renewed their commitment to non-toxic, eco-friendly products, and becoming net-zero for carbon emissions by 2024. That’s less than 4 years away for one of the biggest retailers in the world!
Shop Locally When You Can
Another way to eliminate waste is to shop locally. Shopping local keeps products from having to be boxed up and shipped! My favorite example of a local and sustainable find is my bamboo salad tongs. While yes they’re adorable, and I loved supporting a local business – they were something I truly needed, out of durable material, that didn’t have to be shipped to me!
I would also highly suggest using a re-useable shopping bag. Creating a zero-waste kitchen doesn’t start in the kitchen. It starts before you bring your groceries home. Think about how many times in your life-time you’ve thrown away plastic bags? Honestly, my favorite bags are not the canvas ones that you see everyone buying. I have a great ‘cooler bag’ for all of my cold items and then I just use Lululemon or Sephora shopping bags for everything else. They’re already going to give you the bag for spending a certain amount so there’s really no need for me to buy anything else!
Our Favorite Zero-Waste Kitchen Products
We discussed paper towels earlier, and these are my favorite. They make cleaning windows, countertops, and breakfast burritos when I’m running out of the door in the morning – a breeze. If you throw these in the washer with a load of towels, detergent, and baking soda – You’ll kill all kitchen related bacteria.
How many times have you tossed a sponge because it became musty or smelly? Or it lost its ‘scrubby’ ability? At least 100 in my lifetime alone. The primary reason sponges are a problem is because they don’t degrade, they hold germs and they’re expensive! One pack of reusable sponges can last you over a year, be washed regularly, and thrown into the compost bin when you’re done. (There aren’t any chemicals, so there’s no danger to your composting!)
Bee’s Wrap is a flexy-stretchable wrap to replace plastic wrap. You run it under warm water or warm it up with your hands before you stretch it over whatever you need to save. The other great thing is that by using this biodegradable wrap- you never have to buy plastic wrap that you can’t reuse or untangle.
One of the most significant components of a zero-waste kitchen is to try and use the food items that you buy. Brown sugar, light or dark, just gets dry over time – and you end up throwing it away unless you’re a serious baker. For the average person, there are only so many apple pies you can eat a week! Therefore – the need for these clay disks. You soak them in water, put the discs in the airtight container, and keep your brown sugar from drying out.
The Travel More Series
The Travel More Series is a series of posts dedicated to making travel happen for people who never thought they could. By making adventure an accessible dream – we’ll become better people focused on more of the right things. Going eco-friendly is just one of the things that can help you save money, simplify, and travel more!
To see all of my favorite zero-waste kitchen swaps, click here for my shoppable Amazon list.