After all these months with restaurant restrictions and stay-at-home orders, most of us have developed a new relationship with our kitchen. We are cooking more than usual, we may have tried some new recipes we found online, and we might have even tried a new diet or habit.
So, after all of these phases during the endless quarantine, you might have noticed the amount of waste that comes from the kitchen, especially if you live with more people; you may see the trash can rise with waste that at the beginning doesn’t seem to be that much. Fortunately, it has a solution. The decisions that we take when we go grocery shopping affect directly how much trash we produce, so if you are thinking of having an eco-friendly kitchen, here are some products you should consider adding to your grocery list.
Many people assume that if something is not made of plastic, it shouldn’t be that bad for the environment. Big mistake! On average, one person in the United States consumes 2,200 disposable paper napkins in one year. These napkins cannot be recycled because once the paper gets wet or greasy, it becomes waste that goes directly to the landfill.
So one of the easiest ways to make your kitchen a little bit more sustainable is to stop using disposable napkins and choose reusable napkins instead. Reusable napkins come in all colors, sizes, price points, and styles, so you have a lot of options to choose from! However, do make sure that your napkins are made of natural fibers. Ideally, they should be made of organic cotton, which is a fiber that doesn’t require pesticides when it’s growing, and it is not blended with any synthetic fiber.
Stay away from polyester, rayon, and all synthetic fibers. It’s better to have natural napkins if you want your kitchen to be zero waste.
Adopting sustainable practices is not only about the products you buy for your kitchen. It’s also about the way you buy food and how you store it at home. Food packaging is a huge contributor to plastic waste all across the world. Think about all the packaged food that you buy and how often you buy it. It’s a lot!
The truth is, there are ways in which you can reduce your food packaging waste. You can start by getting glass food containers that you can take to the supermarket to buy your goods. It’s important to invest in good quality glass food containers because they will last longer. There are some food containers out there that you can put in the microwave, oven, dishwasher, and freezer! This versatility might make your life easier when you are cooking and storing food, so think about how you can make this process easier for you.
Take these food containers to the supermarket instead of getting tons of those thin plastic bags to protect your proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
If you are buying seeds or herbs, you can also get jars so that you can keep them nice and sealed in your pantry. These small actions may seem like a pain or a lot of work, but you will see how you will start producing less trash, and you will be reducing your environmental impact every single time you go grocery shopping.
There are many factors that contribute to massive waste when we talk about coffee consumption: single-used cups, coffee pods, coffee filters, straws, and packaging.
If you are a coffee-lover, you probably have at least a few cups of coffee every day. Think about your routine when you make or buy coffee and how much trash you produce with each cup. Don’t feel guilty! Coffee is necessary for many of us, and fortunately, there are sustainable ways to make this essential drink that gives us energy every morning.
The Maranello Pour-Over Drip Cone is a coffee filter made of stainless steel with very fine holes that are laser cut. The filter holds a 4-inch base, which fits most mugs perfectly, it is dishwasher safe, and most importantly, it doesn’t require single used coffee filters! This tool has received great reviews on different platforms about the coffee’s flavor, and the functionality of the filter itself. It is definitely a great option to make your kitchen the most fabulous zero waste kitchen there is.
The price of resealable plastic bags is so affordable that many families in the United States and across the world tend to use them very frequently. After all, these bags are extremely helpful to pack baby carrots for school, keep cranberries fresh, and pack any kind of food that you want to take to work or keep nice and fresh at home. The problem is, we tend to use them only a few times and throw them away. In fact, most people only use them once and throw them in the trash! This is a big problem, but thankfully we don’t have to sacrifice the freshness of our food to transition to a sustainable kitchen. You can get reusable silicone food bags to substitute the resealable plastic bags that are disposable.
If there are any allergies in your household, or if you don’t want to mix the flavors of the food you store in these bags, you can buy these bags in different colors and sizes and have a color system to store your food when you are using these bags. (Green bags for veggies, purple bags for pastries, red bags for spicy food, etc.) They are very easy to use, and you will see how they are as effective as the disposable bags you buy regularly. Put them in your lunch box, in the fridge, or in your bag.
Some people love it, some people hate it, but in the end, the dishes have to go back to the shelves nice and clean. The products that you use to wash your dishes matter because there are many products out there with a lot of harmful chemicals that will damage your skin in the long term and that will pollute the water. Consider purchasing a natural dish soap. There are many ingredients based on plants that can effectively clean your dishes without damaging your skin or releasing toxins into the water.
For instance, the liquid dish soap by Cleancult is made with sustainable ingredients like aloe juice, coconut oil, and citric acid. To make things even better, this brand is fully committed to environmentally friendly products, so you can get your refillable dish soap dispenser that is made of glass and is dishwasher safe. Then, you can buy your soap refills that come in a package made of recycled milk cartons and a plant-based cap. That is what a sustainable kitchen looks like!
The dishwasher consumes many gallons of water, and it is not a sustainable practice at all. However, if you don’t feel like you will wash your dishes by hand any time soon, there still is a sustainable option for you! The IF YOU CARE Automatic Dishwasher Tablets come in a 100% plastic-free package, are made of a biodegradable formula, and don’t include chlorine or phosphates. The tablets come individually wrapped in a cellulose-like package, so they will stay protected and be ready for when you need them. They are very effective, and they are one of the most sustainable options for machine dishwashing!
It is true that there are many sustainable products that tend to be less affordable than those with chemicals and plastic packaging. So don’t feel like you have to go plastic-free in one day. It is a process that you should enjoy, and that feels comfortable for you and your budget.
Your effort and commitment to start practicing more sustainable practices in the kitchen will be highly appreciated by all the people and living beings around the world who are suffering the consequences of climate change. At some point, it might seem like a small plastic bag or one paper napkin won’t make a big difference, but there are 7.6 billion people in the world who might be thinking the same way, and it only takes a little bit of effort to start making the significant change we need to see in this world.
Some actions that you can take to reduce waste and that are free include: staying away from star foam and single-use plastics, taking reusable tote bags when you go grocery shopping (yes, there are still many stores and markets across the country that give plastic bags). And being mindful when you use the oven, toaster, or any appliance because if you leave them plug-in all night or for long periods of time, that translates into a bunch of unnecessary carbon emissions.
The best day to start with this sustainable lifestyle is today, and if your kitchen is the first step, let it be a beautiful kitchen that is as fabulous as you!