The kitchen is one of my favorite places, right behind whichever room my gaming system is currently set up in. Cooking and preparing food for family holds a special place in my heart, so my kitchen is typically kept clean and ready to roll.
The more I cook, the more I realize there is a major waste problem surrounding the kitchen and cooking. Everywhere you look there are vegetables wrapped in plastic, to-go containers that can’t be recycled, and an abundance of useless packaging.
In my experience, we’ve become so desensitized to it all that it doesn’t seem abnormal to see a pealed orange sitting in a plastic container at the grocery store. We’ve become a culture of convenience and it’s taking its toll.
Heading toward a green kitchen may look like a momentous task at first, but the beginning steps are relatively simple. Swapping the items you use every day for more sustainable ones can make a significant dent in your waste output and leave your kitchen looking like a Crunchy-Mama’s Haven. Take baby steps and consider trying out a few of the simple swaps detailed below.
A major step in the right direction is using a cloth or canvas bag in lieu of a plastic one at the grocery store. Check out the register area and see if you can snag a few fun ones. Some stores offer large reusable bags for as little as $.99! If you shop at stores like Aldi and Lidl, they have paper options, as well.
A lot of us feel the need to bag up our produce in another small, plastic bag to separate it from everything else. Consider using mesh produce bags instead of the plastic ones at the store. These also keep your produce fresh for longer since the gasses they produce don’t get trapped in a plastic prison.
Buying in bulk can also cut out a lot of these packaging issues and save you a ton of money!
Another option is to hit up your local farmers market for fresh fruit and vegetables guaranteed not to be wrapped in plastic!
Instead of using plastic wrap or aluminum foil, try out some wraps made from beeswax. These are super cut and easy to use over and over again.
If you’re a snacker or have children, consider some reusable snack bags instead of single-use plastic ones. For apple sauce or purees, these reusable pouches are cute and cut out all that waste. The pouches also allow you to purchase in bulk!
I’m willing to bet there’s a whole mess of paper towels either in a closet or underneath your sink. They’re convenient and inexpensive, so it makes total sense for everyone to use them. But you can cut that non-recyclable waste out by using rags or “unpaper” towels. “Unpaper” towels come in a variety of styles and some even have snaps so you can use your paper towel holder for them. There are some made from bamboo that feel like normal paper towels, but are machine washable and usable for many different things around your kitchen.
Purchasing water to keep at home can become a long-term habit with major cost and waste problems attached. Instead, buy a water filter and some reusable water bottles. Fill it up every few days and have all the water you want without the excessive waste. Plus, depending on where you purchase your water, this could save you a ton of cash.
If you’re a coffee, you’ve probably heard of K Cups. These are great little time and money savers, but they create a lot of waste. Consider buying some reusable ones and coffee in bulk. Get yourself a reusable coffee cup, and voila! Now you’re saving money on coffee and cutting down on waste.
If you prefer tea to your coffee, swap your normal tea bags for a tea infuser and bulk, loose tea. There are some cool ones like these dinosaurs and these cute flowers. Find one you like and manatea it up!
Eating and Take-out
It should come as no surprise that using single-use plastic utensils and plates is a major waste contributor. Swap these for reusable ones and you’ll cut down on it significantly.
Anytime you eat take-out, it comes with a plastic bag, a Styrofoam or plastic box, and plastic utensils. If you’re stopping by to pick your food up from the restaurant, ask them to put your food in your own reusable containers. They usually don’t mind and this cuts down on their cost as well. If you’re ordering from home, request that the cut down on the plastic as much as they can, i.e. leaving any utensils out, etc.
If you’re only grabbing take-out because you’re not sure about cooking at home every night, check out these meal-prep recipe and motivation sites: MealPrepSunday, Budget Bytes, and The Girl on Bloor. Prep your food ahead of time using your reusable storage containers and save at every step!
Regardless of how you start, putting a foot forward is a step in the right direction. Try some of these ideas out and let us know how you like them!