When it comes to adopting a zero waste lifestyle or attempting to minimise the waste that your family creates the kitchen is a good place to start.
You can take a look here at my post on the 5 ‘R’s of Zero Waste for the basic principles that I follow.
Zero Waste Kitchen
As I’ve said before I have my own interpretation of attempting a zero-waste lifestyle.
Of course, I want to help the environment and be more eco-friendly however it has to be in ways that are practical and work for me and my family.
If you try adopting strict lifestyle changes it can be difficult to keep up that initial momentum.
And to me this shouldn’t be about competing with others or meeting other people’s requirements – it’s really about finding what works for you and your lifestyle.
Here are a few simple ways in which I am adopting zero waste principles into my kitchen. Hopefully, you will find some tips and ideas that will work for you too!
Simple ways to generate less waste in the Kitchen
Storage – Stop using cling-film, Tupperware and plastic bags for food storage.
We still have a plastic Tupperware lunch box each (Sistema cubes are the only ones I’ve found that don’t leak) but other than those we no longer use plastic for food storage.
Our packed lunches (usually leftovers or salads) now go in glass jars each day.
I also use smaller glass jars for our overnight oats.
Before I went on maternity leave I got into the habit of preparing my salads in glass mason jars – not only do they keep fresh all week but they are easy to store in the fridge too.
I no longer buy cling-film or sandwich bags at all. I use glass boxes that have lids (pyrex do a great range of sizes), and I made some simple fabric bowl covers.
These are super simple to make and can be washed and re-used as needed.
They are quite handy for picnics or taking dishes to other house’s for parties too. I’ll share my DIY method on the blog soon.
A really easy solution for storing leftovers in the fridge is to simply use a plate to cover the top of your bowl – it’s what my nan always did and saves spending out on glass storage boxes if you are on a tight budget.
Another simple budget-friendly idea is simply wrapping food in a tea-towel – obviously not recommended for raw meat, but things like veg or cooked meat leftovers can be stored that way.
The tea towels are of course washable too.
Cleaning – Switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products
I remember as a kid my nan always swore by using bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and lemons to clean with.
As I got older I switched her natural ideas for ‘easy’ supermarket products like bleach and cleaning sprays.
These things are full of chemicals that aren’t just bad for our environment they are also bad for our health.
I have started making a few of our own cleaning products and the ones that I don’t make I buy eco-friendly alternatives of.
Method is a company whose products I swear by. We made the switch to their cleaning products last year and I’m so glad that we did.
There are no more nasty chemicals in our kitchen cupboard or under the bathroom sink!
Shopping – Buy in Bulk
Where possible I have started to buy our goods in bulk – there are unfortunately limited places local to us in which to do that but I’ve found some places online that deliver dried goods.
When they arrive (usually in strong paper bags) I decant goods into glass storage jars that go on our open shelves – this looks much nicer but also means I can see at a glance what we need to restock and this prevents me buying excess items.
It’s also a simple way to reuse glass jars.
Even simple things such as bulk buying toilet roll saves on packaging and money.
I get a 24 pack of toilet roll which lasts our family over a month – it’s cheaper and it’s only one lot of packaging to recycle.
Take your own bag or Shop Online
Online shopping with home delivery might not seem like an eco-friendly alternative at first glance but think of it this way: if you normally drive to the grocery store you will be saving on petrol and time by shopping online.
Home delivery routes tend to be ordered in such a way as that the driver uses the least mileage and fuel – they take direct routes that enable them to do as many deliveries as possible with the minimum amount of driving.
You can also get your home shopping packed and delivered without bags – it arrives loose in the crates for you to pick out.
If you are going to shop in person take your own reusable shopping bags.
Not only is it cheaper than paying for each carrier bag you pick up but you’ll also save waste.
Even better if it’s possible shop in local stores or markets.
I appreciate that this isn’t always possible but I have started taking a walk to a local bakery for our bread and when I can afford it I buy our fruit and vegetables from Borough Market.
If I don’t have the budget for that I will go to a shop such as Lidl where they tend to sell fruit and vegetables loose rather than in plastic packaging!
Some areas still offer a traditional milkman delivery too – I used to love the fresh milk drop when I was a kid.
Unfortunately, we can’t get one in our area but if you can it’s a great service.
The milk is usually delivered in glass bottles that are then taken away, cleaned and reused once you’ve finished with them which is much better than plastic bottles.
Go Paper and Plastic Free in the kitchen
I’ve even knitted some dishcloths and stopped using paper towels, disposable sponges and cleaning wipes in the kitchen.
Instead, I have stocked up on fabric cloths that can be washed and reused and some wooden scrubbing brushes.
Not only are they much better for the environment but they also look a lot nicer too!
Oh, and the Method washing up liquid we bought is available to buy in pouches that you refill the dispenser with – works out cost effective and uses less packaging.
It’s simple changes like these that will really help.
To make it efficient to use fabric cloths instead of paper towels I’ve stored them in a glass jar on the kitchen work surface – they are within easy reach, making them convenient for wiping up spills and doing quick cleaning jobs.
Paper kitchen towels are such a wasteful product as are cleaning wipes.
Fabric alternatives are much better for the environment. I like to use microfiber cloths – they clean everything without even needing additional cleaning products for most surfaces!
We no longer use hand towels or paper napkins either – instead, we have fabric versions that I made out of fat quarters and simple hemming.
I’m loving making these simple changes to our home and it doesn’t feel like a particularly big effort to do these things.
They are small changes that make a big difference to the planet. I feel much better knowing that I am doing my bit.
What could you do to help minimise waste in the kitchen?
I’ll be sharing ways to reduce food waste in a seperate post soon.