Your kitchen nourishes you and your family but can have the opposite effect on the environment. Over the last century, American have transitioned from reusable kitchen items such as napkins, cleaning cloths and glass/ceramic food storage to more disposable options like plastic ziplock bags, plastic cling wrap and paper towels. Unfortunately, the environmental impact of these disposable items has been MASSIVE.
But worry not, dear friend! You can start taking a few small steps today to reboot your kitchen and fill it with more eco-friendly, healthy reusable options that are better for you and the planet.
1. Kick paper towels and plastic sponges to the curb. Switch to reusable Swedish dish cloths and sponges.
In the USA we use up to 13 billion pounds of paper towels every year. Also, did you know that your kitchen sponge is most likely made from plastic? Trust us, switching to an all natural loofa sponge and Swedish dishcloth will clean just as well and without the waste since both can be added to your home compost after use!
2. Get rid of the Ziplock bags! Try beeswax wrap instead.
The average US family used 500 plastic baggies a year, now multiply that by the population in the USA and you have yourself a serious plastic waste problem. Switching to a reusable food-grade silicone zip bag will not only save you money in the long run, but it will keep harmful plastic chemicals from leaching into your food.
3. Say goodbye to plastic wrap!
Americans use more than 10 billion rolls of plastic food wrap each year. That’s a whole lot of plastic that is not only bad for the environment, but also can leach nasty bits into your food. Steer clear of all plastic saran wrap and ditch them for a healthier, more eco-friendly alternative.
Beeswax wrap is all natural, made from jojoba oil, beeswax, tree resin and 100% cotton fabric. It not only sticks to itself so you can wrap it directly around food but it also wraps around bowls and plates. After each use, simply use cold water and an eco-friendly dish soap to clean them, then hang to dry.
4. Silicone stretch lids are the way to go.
You can also use silicone stretch lids to cover bowls instead of plastic wrap! These are a super easy alternative to plastic cling wrap and are easy to get the hang of. They come in different sizes so that you have a cover for any bowl, plate, can you need. They are also excellent at keeping half a watermelon, lemon, or other fruits fresh in your refrigerator.
5. Stop throwing away food scraps! Start a home compost instead.
Look in your kitchen trash bin. If you are finding that the majority of your waste is food scraps it may be time to think about home composting. Don’t worry - it’s much easier to start a home compost than you might think! All you need is an old jar to hold food scraps, a hole in the ground with a tarp or a compost bin. If you can’t have an outdoor compost where you live, consider an indoor vermicompost (little worm friends who will gladly chew up your food scraps) or simply freeze your food scraps in a jar until you can drop them off at in friend’s compost. Some cities also have curbside composting programs you can look into!
6. Embrace the mason jar (or reuse any glass jar for that matter)!
The humble mason jar is a symbol of the zero-waste movement for a reason! Not only are they super affordable (you can also find them at your local thrift store) but they are super versatile. You can use them for a travel cup, to take your food on the go and to store dry or canned goods.
7. Make reusable napkins and dish rags your new normal.
In the USA we have a bad habit of using paper towels and disposable napkins throughout the day. Stop this habit in its tracks by making sure you have a stash of reusable cloth napkins and dishrags whenever you need them! Start by upcycling old washcloths, sheets, clothes and any other fabric you have lying around as your new dishrags to clean anything and everything. Next, you can invest in a few sets of reusable napkins, or check out your local thrift store for some vintage napkins. In no time, you’ll be used to using reusable kitchen cloths and won’t miss disposable paper towels one bit!