For most of us, going Zero Waste seems like a drastic modification of our day-to-day habits.
Rest assured, most of the Zero Waste community will acknowledge that the target is to reach a low waste home gradually.
Indeed, most of us are imperfect and have not (yet?) won the challenge of only one jar of waste per year. And that is fine.
Read this article bearing in mind that any of these eco-friendly swaps for your Zero Waste kitchen are better for the planet than what you used beforehand. No guilt, no blame, please!
Take time to find what works for you. Be patient with yourself and tolerant of your loved ones. The journey is just as important as the destination!
Key Number 1: Smart Food Shopping
- Reduce unnecessary food packaging sent directly to landfills by adopting a few Zero Waste behaviors.
- Gain time! Once you come back home, no need to unwrap or unpack, you can directly place your edibles where they are adequate in your kitchen.
- Save money: are you curious to know how much money we save each year since going Zero (OK, let’s be fair: Low) Waste in our home? Hint: banning plastic bottles made the most significant difference.
More on the why’s
Let’s do the math (or rather, the equals) : conventional packaging = plastic = waste sent to landfills = pollution.
We do not want to sound dramatic. However, it is crucial to bear in mind that plastic pollution is getting worse each day, and we are the only ones who can change this! Most companies and governments will only follow if public opinion and consumer’s choices concur. Did you know, for example, that (1):
- One in four fish tested contain plastic? In addition to killing marine life, this means plastic re-enters the food chain (and our stomach).
- By 2050, there will likely be more plastic than fish in the ocean.
- Nearly all plastic ever created still exists today.
- Every minute, the equivalent of a truck full of plastic is tossed in the oceans.
- Plastics have been linked with health issues such as cancer, impaired immunity, and endocrine disruption.
Before entering the grocery store, make sure to wear your eco-warrior glasses. Indeed, avoid products wrapped in single-use plastic and find alternatives in bulk or sustainable packaging.
Look for recyclable logos or symbols to verify how the package was made.
Buying in bulk is one of the essential changes towards a successful Zero Waste Kitchen.
Do not be afraid to ask your butcher or baker to use your recipients and bags. This attitude is (fortunately!) no longer considered as uncanny, in most places.
Farmer’s markets or local organic shops are ideal and usually more prone to being bulk friendly.
However, the tendency in bigger stores is improving, and brands like Whole Foods propose more and more options in bulk.
If possible, make sure to weigh your container beforehand so that you are not overpaying for the extra weight. You will find that butchers will discount the weight off if you ask.
A big help to find a bulk store: download this great app called Bulk Locator App from Bea Johnson.
Key Number 2: Your Fridge And Pantry Are Your Allies
- When it comes to Zero Waste food storage, opt for transparent containers and labels. In addition to cotton bags, stainless steel boxes, and Tupperware (if you had any) that you used when going shopping, think of other ways to store your edibles in a plastic-free way. For example, a useful product to have for your leftovers is stainless steel and an easily washable lunch box.
- If you are targeting a Zero Waste Pantry, no need to buy fancy and similar glass jars, use what you already have at home to organize the space according to your habits and needs. For example, store your loose tea and coffee grounds in small cartons or cotton bags next to your cups.
It significantly decreases the risks of throwing food away; we, at Puratium, are the living example of a waste-free kitchen!
If you need to buy new containers, opt for stainless steel instead of plastic. Remember, plastic entails potential toxicity risks and chemicals leaking into your edibles (2).
Starting a Zero Waste kitchen journey often goes hand in hand with better organization.
If you efficiently and visibly store food in your fridge and pantry, preparing meals in your kitchen will be less of a hassle.
Reducing waste also means fewer chores afterwards! No need to take the (super dirty and smelly) garbage bags every other day.
Moreover, you help municipalities on decreasing costs related to transporting and disposing of waste.
- Zero Waste Meal Planning is crucial! Planning your meals (and consequently), listing precisely what you need, is an essential milestone towards a successful and Eco Friendly meal plan. We help you further on this topic here.
- Donate your extras or leftovers: there might be a shelter, youth association, or a nursing home around your house that would welcome cans or oils you do not plan on using anytime soon.
- When doing groceries, do not hesitate to buy the ugly looking vegetables or fruits. They are perfectly edible, and doing so; you will likely avoid that they are being tossed away later on as food scraps.
Key Number 3: Your Waste As An Asset
- Compost food scraps and other compostable items in your backyard or via a worm bin.
- Reuse and recycle whenever possible, such as aluminum cans, cartons, PET, etc.
- Did you know that composting can help you decrease your trash up to 50%? Typically, that type of waste is tossed away with the rest of your home trash (non-sorted) and ends up in landfills.
- Get creative with the use of your trash and packaging. Waste can be fun and part of your family’s Sunday hobbies.
In essence, food waste should not exist. Indeed, food leftovers (that you could not eat ‘on time’) or scraps are an asset in your garden. Composting is like giving back to the earth.
In particular, you can use it as a natural fertilizer for your soil and plants. If you are unsure how to start, we compiled a useful list of do’s and don’t’s.
Break the dependency on conventional products: to buy less plastic packaging was for us an eye-opener.
Before purchasing anything, think of its life-cycle: where was it produced and how, and whether you can quickly dispose of it without polluting.
Last but not least, there are many ways to upcycle containers or everyday items. For example, egg cartons or toilet paper rolls.
Key Number 4: Minimalism In Your Kitchen
Kitchen utensils: let’s take a few examples on how you can reduce waste in your kitchen, and opt for sustainable alternatives:
- Paper towels, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil are the past. Beeswax wraps, and washable (DIY if you can) cloths are the new normal. We particularly recommend the NotPaper Towels that you can find here. Also, consider switching paper towels for reusable loofahs whenever possible. And, no need to buy 20 of each. Four or five is sufficient when regularly washed. Did you know that loofahs are vegetables? Thus, they are natural and totally compostable.
- Replace conventional ice trays and glass straws with Eco Friendly options: switch away from plastic and opt for stainless steel ones. If you are unsure of the type of straws you are looking for, have a look at our review.
Cleaning tools: take time to assess exactly what you need in terms of sponges and cloths. Keep a few of outstanding quality that you can easily wash and recycle (or even compost sometimes!).
We are big fans of natural dish brushes (ideally, with replaceable heads) and washable rags. These were the first changes we made towards a Zero Waste kitchen.
Cleaning products: the same logic applies. With less than 6 or 7 ingredients bought separately (and easily found in bulk), you can clean your ENTIRE house.
They are highly efficient and safe. And they contribute to decreasing the presence of chemicals in your home. If you would like a full guide on Zero Waste Cleaning, we got you covered!
Remember that most of the plastic-made kitchen or cleaning tools can potentially leak toxins and chemicals into your food. Therefore, if you need new ones, opt for a smarter approach, and prefer stainless steel over plastic.
Moreover, if you manage to continually buy (and use!) only what you need, you will avoid typical frustrations related to over-consumption. For us, it was beneficial in terms of efficiency (where is this AGAIN?), order (find items in less than a second), and freedom (less mess means more peace of mind).
Conventional kitchen products such as colorful cooking gadgets are the typical pitfall to avoid. Here is how you can start your journey towards a minimalist Zero Waste kitchen:
- Start by listing and ordering what you have in your kitchen.
- Consider donating duplicates and items you have not used AT ALL for the last year or so.
- Reorganize your kitchen in a way that food, cans, utensils, and the like are visible, and bulked per category (either color, purpose, type, or when you need it during the day).
- Think of how you could reuse or upcycle particular objects; for example, mason jars can be used as a container for laundry detergent or as flower pots.
- Whenever you are in doubt, try to apply the Rs in order, for example: refuse single-use plastic, reduce the amount of food you buy and only stick to your original list, and reuse packaging such as cardboard.
We hope this article helped you familiarise yourself with different Zero Waste kitchen products, and why it matters to reduce waste more broadly.
To go Zero Waste in your home (partially or fully if you can!) will take you time: namely, you have to find the right sustainable alternatives in the right place, find the correct fit at the correct price, amongst other things.
Nevertheless, once you find the adequate plastic-free product for you and your loved ones, the next steps only become easier in your Zero Waste Journey.
Also remember that it is not necessary to use all of these tips and suggestions at once. You can gradually implement your favorites as you become more comfortable.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.
A bit funny, a bit whacky. Lots of curiosity, lots of creativity. All for organic, minimalism and local. More of zero waste, more for our future 🌿