10 Easy Swaps for a Zero Waste Kitchen
Zero Waste Kitchen
May 15, 2020 | Kathryn Kellogg
Last Updated on May 18, 2020
I’ve been in the kitchen a lot more these past few weeks, and I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite swaps for a zero waste kitchen.
But, first, a teeny-tiny celebration. If you’ve been following along with me for a while then you know that I’ve been working on the backend of my website for weeks. And, I mean… WEEEEEKS.
I’ve reformatted every single blog post (all 523 of them), updated the site, and I’m optimizing GZW for speed. ‘Cause I have a need for speed.
Well, not me specifically but google. Google loves fast sites. Readers love fast sites. So a fast site you shall have. I’m not done yet. I’ve got to tweak things a bit and put on the bells and whistles, but I’ve laid the foundation and done most of the heavy lifting which feels GREAT. Plus, this is the VERY first blog post I’m writing since the updates. *does happy dance* To celebrate and kick things off, I wanted to keep it simple by sharing 10 easy swaps you can make to have a zero waste kitchen.
With my husband home all the time, we’re going through more food and doing more dishes than ever before. I know that many of my friends and family are cooking up a storm! So, there’s no better time to transition save money and reduce waste in the kitchen. Here are a few things you can leave behind.
1. single-serve coffee pod machines:
In 1997, Keurig launched its signature, single-use coffee pod known as a k-cup. Each pod is filled with either coffee, tea or hot chocolate. These machines arose in popularity because “you could brew just one cup!”
The downside is that these machines are incredibly wasteful…
In 2015, Keurig produced 9.8 billion non-biodegradable K-Cups! If all of those cups were put end-to-end, they’d circle the globe around 10.5 times.
So, if you’re looking for a way to get your coffee fix and still brew only *one* cup – well I’ve got a treat for you.
Introducing the french press. I use my Bodum french press single day and I LOVE it.
Of course, you can brew more than one cup, but it’s nice that you have the option of only brewing one too.
You know I use my french press to make tea, but since my husband has been home, we’ve been brewing a lot of coffee.
I think using a french press is one of the most sustainable ways to brew coffee because there’s no waste involved at all.
There are no filters, no pods, just a good ol’ fashioned perfect cup of coffee.
One of the things I love about Bodum is that they offer spare parts so if your glass beaker breaks, (which has absolutely happened to me because I’m a clutz) they sell spare ones!
Now, that’s a company that respects zero waste living!
If you use the code ‘bodum_10’ you can get 10% off on your first purchase!
2. teflon pans:
I don’t normally advocate for throwing out items and replacing them with “new” fancy zero waste items.
But, if you’re still cooking with pans using Teflon I urge you to switch them out.
Teflon was made using a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA until 2015. The largest problem with PFOAs is that once it enters the environment it never leaves.
According to the EPA, PFOA can cause harm to reproductive, developmental, liver, kidney, and immunological systems.
Instead, why not switch to something a bit more eco-friendly.
I have a cast iron pan and a dutch oven, but my latest edition is a Green Pan and I’m obsessed!
I swore of non-stick pans years ago, but Green Pan swayed me because their coating is made with sand!
Their pans with metal handles can go from stovetop to oven which is perfect if you have a more minimal kitchen.
Green Pan is made using recycled metals for the body of the pan – how cool is that?
Their factory has solar panels, they have an amazing wastewater reclamation and recycling program, and their curing process results in 60% fewer CO2 emissions than their competitors.
I have to say my Green Pan has quickly become my go-to whether I’m sautéing veggies or making pancakes.
But really, it’s been a DREAM making pancakes. ⠀
3. plastic tupperware:
Remember in the last paragraph where I said, “Don’t throw out your old things to get new things!”
I firmly believe that you should hold onto your plastic Tupperware, but you might want to downgrade it from food storage.
I personally use my plastic Tupperware for bits and bobs in the shed, bobby pins, hair ties, etc.
Be sure to check out my blog post called What to Do With Old Plastic When You’re Going Plastic Free that you might want to check out for more ideas!
I try to avoid plastic Tupperware in my zero waste kitchen for health reasons, and instead, reach for my beloved glass food storage containers!
You know that I’m obsessed with my snapware and mixing bowls with lids, but there are a few other types of glass food storage you might want to consider too.
- glass meal prep containers with a divider
- glass mixing bowls with lids
- reusable pyrex containers with lids
- glass snapware with locking lids
- plastic-free storage containers with bamboo lids
I have serious envy over the glass storage container with the bamboo lids, but my glass snapware is still working brilliantly!
4. plastic wrap:
I’ve always found plastic wrap to be quite frustrating. It just never seems to wrap the way I want it to… you know?
Plastic wrap is made from Plastic #3, polyvinyl chloride also known as PVC.
I try to avoid this is plastic because plasticizers and phthalates are added to make it softer and more pliable.
Phthalates are endocrine disruptors that can interfere with our body’s natural communication system.
You can learn more about the seven types of plastic in my blog post What Are the Seven Types of Plastic?
Ditch this single-use material and opt for a safer alternative like silicone.
I love these food huggers because they work for small bowls, cups, jars, and cut vegetables.
I often mix a few tablespoons of wet food in with Nala’s kibble, and having a food hugger to secure the can is the perfect way to keep it fresh.
These food huggers also work perfectly for preserving half-cut lemons, tomatoes, and even cucumbers.
But, my all-time favorite thing is when I can’t find the right lid to go with my upcycled jar these come in handy! They’re taught enough that they’re stackable in the fridge too.
With the code ‘GOING.ZERO.WASTE’ you can get $5.00 off on orders over $40.00.
5. single-use bottles:
Did you know that tap water is more regulated than bottled water?
Bottled Water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which has stricter and more transparent reporting.
If you don’t like the taste of your tap consider getting a filter and ditching the single-use bottles.
For plastic-free options, I can recommend a kishu stick and the Berkey.
Check out my blog post on How to Use a Kishu Stick for more information.
If you really like sparkling water and soda, consider getting a Soda Stream!
I got a Soda Stream for my birthday last year, and I’ve absolutely loved having fizzy water at the touch of a button.
When I really want a treat, I like to add lemon juice, lime juice and a few sprigs of fresh mint!
Did you know that you’re supposed to throw your kitchen sponges out after two weeks!
Instead of using sponges, I use compostable dish scrubbies! Here are some of my favorite swaps below:
Be sure to check out this blog post if you want to MASTER Zero Waste Dish Washing.
7. aluminum foil:
I used to buy a lot of aluminum foil, I used it for everything from lining pans to tenting pies and wrapping up that lone pizza slice.
Thankfully there are reusable products when fill all of these voids.
For that lone pizza or pie slice beeswax wraps do the trick! To shield your pie crust try these.
And, if you want something non-stick for baking check out Silpats they also work great for freezing!
If you wind up with any aluminum foil, it is recyclable. It’s important that it’s clean and dry and then roll it up into a ball that is at least 2″ in diameter and you can throw it in you curbside bin.
For more information on recycling, metals be sure to check out my blog post How to Recycle Metals the Right Way!
8. reusable cloth towels:
I ditched paper towels years ago and haven’t looked back!
Most people I meet are so hesitant to give up their paper towels and I’m not sure why!
This has been one of my all time favorite zero waste swaps and it will save you SO much money.
I promise making this change is nowhere near as hard as you think it is.
The secret is setting up a good system.
I keep my clean towels in a drawer and throw dirty ones into the base of the washing machine so they’re washed immediately with the next load of clothes.
The next hurdle is to make sure that your towels absorb water rather than pushing it around.
I’ve tried several different types of towels, and I think that bar towels do the best job.
Check out my blog post 6 Tips for Ditching Paper Towels to get all of my tips on making this transition super simple.
9. ziploc bags:
Before I went zero waste, I used a lot of ziploc bags.
Growing up, I had the same lunch everyday. A PB&J wrapped in a plastic baggie, complete with a bag full of chips, a mini-gatorade, and a Little Debbie Cake.
I cringe at the amount of trash I threw away everyday… but hey, on the bright side my school lunches were vegan and I didn’t even know it!
Right before I decided to go zero waste, I bought about 500 ziploc bags at Costco.
I didn’t think I’d ever be able to go through all of them and wound up giving several boxes to friends and family members.
My current solution to ziploc bags include:
10. food waste:
The most popular phrase you’ll see on this blog is “I hate food waste.”
And, that’s because I really, really, really HATE food waste.
40% of all the food in America is wasted, and there are several ways that we can work to combat this like storing your food properly, buying the right amount of food, and composting.
I have tips on all of these which you can read in my blog post 7 Tips for Avoiding Food Waste.
I can also recommend a few great books if you’re looking into cooking with your scraps more.
I hope that you found this post helpful. I would love to know what your favorite zero waste kitchen swaps are?
Congratulations on finishing the reformat of all these great blog posts! That sounds like a lot of work. I’m pinning this useful article because I know I’ll want to check out these tips again later; learning about Green Pan and Food Huggers was especially helpful.
thanks for all the tips! i was interested in the greenpan you mentioned, but reviews on the site seem to indicate that the non-stick lasts from 6 mo-1 year or so, which doesn’t seem very effective for eco purposes. have you had any long-term experience with the pan’s longevity?
I moved into my home four years ago and had an 8 pack of paper towels. I still have two left from that right pack using dish towels most of the time. The paper towels are for greasy foods like bacon. Cloth napkins are what i use instead of paper too.