Reducing waste in the kitchen

This blog post is part of our “Room by Room” mini-series, where we look into ways to reduce waste across all divisions of a household. You can find all the articles listed here.

THE KITCHEN, MOTHER OF WASTE!

Where to start?

 

We’ve found the best way to go about reducing waste in your kitchen is to identify all the items your cupboards that will eventually result in waste; literally, make a list of every item that once emptied will end up in the red bin.  

Rule #1, don’t feel overwhelmed! 

This should be a stress-free process that results in you feeling motivated to target each of those items, one at a time. This way, you can slowly replace them with better alternatives over time rather than feel the burden of plastics on your shoulders. 

We know that when looking for items to replace, finances and time will play a role; sometimes, you might not be able to find a suitable waste-free alternative that fits within your budget/agenda. And that’s ok.  

It’s important to recognise these challenges as barriers that you’ll eventually overcome. Things won’t always go exactly to plan; you might initially plan to go waste-free within the space of weeks only to find out it takes you months or years. 

The tips we are sharing here should make it easier for you to achieve your waste-free goals; so without further ado, here’s a list of items to replace with more eco-friendly alternatives:

  • Cling-wrap: cling wrap can only be recycled in soft-plastic facilities, which means it’s an item that will easily end up in landfill. But there’s an incredible substitute to it: beeswax wraps. Never heard of it? Read all about them here.

  • Straws: these pesky little things are one of the most common items found during our waterway clean-ups. In most cases, they aren’t even needed! Our recommendation? Replace with metal or bamboo reusable straws.

  • Synthetic sponges: these common use items shred tiny pieces of plastic as they become worn out. Our recommendation? Coconut fiber scours.

  • Bin liners: instead of lining your bin with a plastic bag, consider using biodegradable bags or newspaper.

  • Dish cloths: instead of sponges and paper towel, why not use these 100% biodegradable dish cloths or upcycle old cotton clothes into rags.

  • Produce bags: you really don’t need plastic bags to keep your produce; cotton produce bags are reusable and do a much better job at preserving the quality of the ingredients in them.

  • Plastic brushes: similar story to synthetic sponges; they will slowly break down into tiny pieces of plastic that go down the sink. Consider replacing them with natural bristle brushes with wooden handles or bamboo!

  • Plastic containers and tubs: plastic Tupperware is reusable and adaptable and probably not an item you’ll throw away after one use, but if you can, consider using glass containers and jars, which have a much lower environmental impact!

All of these are items that we can choose to replace with eco-friendly alternatives. But what about the cleaning products themselves? The dishwasher liquid, the glass cleaner and so on?

For this next part, we recommend you go down the path of home-made alternatives.

While you might find them challenging at first because of the prep, planning and time required, you’ll soon get into the groove of things. One tip we want to share upfront is this: it’s better to buy in bulk than one ingredient at a time!

Here are some of the solutions we like to recommend:

  • Dish soap can be made out of castile soap, lavender oil and tea tree oil. Here’s a cool article explaining how.

  • Glass cleaner can be made out of white vinegar, water and citrus oil or juice. Recipe here!

 

For general information on handy tips and tricks to clean your kitchen in plastic-free style, have a read through this article and this article is very handy too.

And that’s it! We hope some of this information will help you clear your kitchen from clutter.

We can definitely say that it’s a fulfilling challenge that is more inspirational than dreadful. The most important thing to remember is to stay inspired and take the process slowly. This shouldn’t be a journey filled with stress and despair. Rather, it is a transformation to a more thoughtful and light-treading lifestyle, so enjoy it!

Aaaand remember that the best way to create change is by inspiring change in others. If you lead by example chances are they’ll give it a go themselves and more will follow.


Sandy Gonzalez