Try these simple to do changes to reduce waste in the kitchen
We all want to do our part to reduce waste. But I get it, we also don’t want it to be difficult either. So I thought I would share some really easy ways to reduce waste in the kitchen. Most weeks we are down to one kitchen garbage bag of waste. And sometimes it’s not even that full but the stink factor gets us.
Some of these may seem like they don’t make that big of a difference – so why bother? Because if a lot of us make small changes it adds up to significant change. Our planet needs some TLC, and every bit of love counts!
How do we do reduce waste in the kitchen without a lot of time or effort?
Reusable “un-paper” towels and cloth napkins
Whether you sew these or buy them, they are relatively inexpensive so they’ll save money in the long run, but you’ll also significantly reduce waste. I made these towels with snaps which turned out to be a real waste of time. The towels roll up just fine without the snaps, so if you sew up a batch, don’t bother messing with snaps.
If you’re not one to fire up the sewing machine, there are lots of options available from Amazon, Etsy, and a variety of zero-waste shops.
We stopped using paper napkins when they were nowhere to be found during the pandemic. I had a big drawer full of cloth napkins that never got used except for special occasions. Now I totally understand if you have a large household that laundering cloth napkins could get out of hand quick, but for the few of us in my house it’s no big deal. And now we’re getting use out of what we already had on had.
Helpful hint — every once in a while I soak the used un-paper towels and napkins overnight in a bucket with Sal Suds, warm water, white vinegar and lemon essential oil. It gets out any crud that builds up, loosens up grease stains, and makes them smell lovely.
Silicone ziploc storage bags and beeswax wraps
We’ve cut out plastic wrap and reduce our use of disposable storage bags down to almost nothing with these swaps. We bought a couple of good size lots of silicone bags on Amazon in an assortment of sizes so we have plenty on hand. From sandwiches to snacks, they are perfect for packing lunch. They work great in the freezer too. I’ve used them for freezing fruits, veggies, even shredded chicken. For easy labeling, I write on strip of washi tape with permanent marker.
I tried making my own beeswax wraps. Don’t do it unless you are really up for an involved project. By the time I bought all the supplies, had a couple of failed attempts and some big messes, I could have supported a small business and purchased them already made. These are a great find on Amazon. BUT now that I have some, I absolutely love them. Beeswax wraps can cover bowls, wrap up a sandwich, keep a cut avocado fresh, plus you can even fold them into icing bags!
Simple compost scrap collection
I recently shared some composting basics. It doesn’t take much space to be able to have a compost bin. And with a little bit of effort, you’ll way reduce the waste you generate AND you’ll have some beautiful compost for your garden.
We keep this compost pail on the kitchen counter. It has a filter that does a fab job of absorbing odors. It also makes it oh-so-easy to collect scraps. Composting keeps veggie and fruit scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, and brown packaging material out of the trash can. We use a LOT of fresh fruits and vegetables so the waste reduction for us is significant.
Ditch the plastic bottles with a water filter
Single use plastic water bottles make up a huge percentage of our waste. It’s really kind of crazy since it’s so simple to use your own reusable water bottle (or an old fashioned drinking glass – LOL). And yes, some of our water straight from the tap is less than stellar, but that’s easily remedied with a water filtration system. There are a wide range of options for water filters from a simple pitcher to elaborate reverse osmosis systems.
We have a Berkey filter and absolutely love it. The carbon filters can make even gross puddle water safe to drink and they last for 6,000 gallons of water, making it extremely cost effective. It’s almost as much water as is in our 18′ x 48″ swimming pool!
One important pro tip – be sure to wash your refillable bottle regularly, especially the lid and any washer or rubber seal. You certainly don’t want to do a science experiment with your water bottle!
Solid dish soap and refillable foam hand soap
You can eliminate another source of plastic waste by using solid dish soap instead of the liquid soap in plastic bottles. I make cold process soap and have figured out a recipe that I love. If you’re not soaper, you can can purchase solid dish soap bars from many amazing soapers (we often have them available in our soap shop). The solid bars last a long time and work amazingly well.
We also have a mason jar foaming hand soap dispenser that we refill with a mixture of Castile soap, glycerin, water, and essential oils. Our castle soap comes in a plastic bottle (sadly) but because we dilute it with a fair amount of water, one bottle lasts us a really long time. I don’t really have a recipe for my concoction. I just pour things into the jar until it looks right. (My typical modus operandi) but I promise to pay attention next time so I can post the DIY for you all.
There you have it. Five low stress ways to reduce waste in the kitchen. These tips really are simple and it’s easy to make them habits. Challenge yourself to see just how much you can reduce your waste for a week. It’s satisfying when our regular garbage can is practically empty and the recycle bin is filled with items that can actually be recycled (glass, metal, cardboard).
Let us know how these tips help you and if you’ve got other ways to reduce waste in the kitchen, please share in the comments.