The kitchen is one of the biggest producers of waste (both food and packaging). By making a few simple changes you can easily make your kitchen more environmentally friendly, and zero-waste.
Avoid paper filters for brewing your coffee. There are so many different ways to make coffee and most of them don’t use a paper filter. You can use a Bodum/French Press, a moka pot, an automatic coffee maker with a mesh filter, espresso machines, manual espresso makers, and so much more. They all change the flavor of the coffee (really only coffee snobs will notice most of it) and it can be fun to have different options every morning.
If you use paper filters switch to non-bleached filters. This way you can compost your filters and grinds easily. Composting your used grinds is the best way to get rid of them. You can also throw them straight into your garden (tomatoes and kale especially love coffee grinds).
In addition you can use coffee grinds for many DIY beauty products. Lip scrubs, body scrubs, soap bars, and a hair treatment are some of the many things you can do with used coffee grinds, other than compost them.
Say No to Paper Towels
Paper towels are awful for the environment. So many of them get used every time you cook a meal or clean the kitchen. It’s just as easy to use a dish cloth and wash it. I just throw them in with my regular laundry. It’s super easy. You can buy them in any colour you like, made out of sustainable/organic materials, and you can even thrift them.
You can also use old clothing to make cleaning rags for your kitchen and save the dish clothes for your hands, dishes, and produce. It’s a very simple way to limit the amount of trees that get turned into paper products.
Find Good Packaging
If you can’t find a zero-waste option near you, just buy the product with the best packaging you can. Look for items in glass jars instead of plastic (peanut butter is an easy one for this), pick cardboard over plastic (it stands a better chance of being recycled), and items made out of sustainably sourced materials or recycled materials.
On the left are two different ways to buy yeast, one in a glass jar with metal lid, and the other in paper packets. The packets aren’t recyclable, but the glass and metal lid are. You can also re-use the glass jar. In addition one packet has enough for one loaf of bread while one jar has enough for several.
Some companies try and package as ethically as they can. There are no zero-waste breakfast options for me (I really wish I had a local zero-waste store) so I try and find the best option I can. Natures Path Organic makes cereal that I really like. They use eco-pac for their bags, and have no cardboard box. Without the cardboard box there are less trees being turned into paper, and the eco-pac is biodegradable. It also just tastes good.
Use Produce Bags and Shop Locally
Bringing your own grocery and produce bags is a super easy way to reduce your waste. The thin plastic bags your produce goes in stand little chance of being recycled so skip them as often as possible.
Shopping at smaller local stores and farmers markets can help you reduce your waste (they are usually less picky about you using your own bags/jars/whatever) and help you reduce the carbon footprint of your food. If you’re buying locally the food had to travel less. You don’t have to give up all far-away foods but try and buy seasonally and locally when you can.
Tea bags are not compostable. It’s best to switch to loose leaf tea. You can buy loose-leaf tea at bulk stores, David’s tea, and health food stores without packaging. If you can’t find it zero-waste than buy it in a metal or glass container. I have loose leaf tea from Twinnings and from For Teas Sake that is not zero-waste but come in metal tins that I plan on reusing after words.
I use to find loose leaf tea annoying, but it really isn’t that much harder to empty a tea ball than it is to throw out a tea bag.
There are also a ton of different tea balls you can use. I have gotten so many as gifts. You can get them in nearly any shape and made out of nearly anything. Plastic isn’t best but if you buy one plastic thing to replace thousands (that’s really how much tea I drink) of tea bags it’s not a bad option.
My favourite one is my round metal one that I found in my grandparents house. No one was using it so it became mine. It has a finer mesh on it so I can use all my teas in it. I find with some of my others tea gets out.
Use Jars to Store Food
When you store food properly you won’t end up wasting it. I prefer to store everything in glass jars because they are recyclable and reusable. I also didn’t pay for my jars. They are all old food jars that held nut butters, sauces, coconut oil, and juice. It’s much better to use what you have than go out and buy new jars.
I store my lunches, juices, coffee, and any chopped up produce in a glass jar. It’s super handy and looks nice. I make lemon water most mornings, so I chop up a lemon throw it in a jar and I’m set for the week.
Make it Yourself
One way to reduce packaging is to make things yourself. This is really only good if you have the time. I like making home made bread but I don’t do it all the time. Baking is an easy way to reduce waste because breads, cookies, pies… almost always come in plastic bags.
If you don’t bake there are a lot of easy things you can make at home in large batches and freeze to save time (pasta sauce for example).
Have you tried any of these swaps? Do you have any to add? Let me know in the comments below.