zero waste kitchen tips

9 Zero Waste Kitchen Tips for Eco-Conscious Families

The kitchen is the heart of the home. But since we spend so much time there, it can also be susceptible to clutter and waste. Read on for 9 easy-to-try zero waste kitchen tips that will make your:

  • shopping and cooking habits more intentional
  • kitchen storage more organized
  • eating habits healthier and more sustainable
  • time spent in the kitchen happier!

Quick Takeaways

  • Eliminate the use of plastic with alternatives like glass containers, reusable water bottles, and wooden kitchen utensils.
  • Reduce food waste by making intentional portions, eating leftovers the next day, and composting food scraps.
  • Buy in bulk to save costs and reduce packaging waste.
  • Try to be a minimalist in the kitchen to be more aware of what you actually use and need.

9 simple zero waste kitchen tips

Use zero waste containers

Pantry with zero waste containers.

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Plastic is non-biodegradable and causes other serious risks to the environment, like harming wildlife and releasing chemicals into the soil. It’s also lower quality and not as long-lasting as other materials.

Zero waste containers are one of the simplest but most impactful ways to start your zero-waste kitchen. A good first step is by replacing your plastic containers with glass. Some ideas:

  • Glass jars for coffee, teabags, pantry spices, etc.
  • Wine glasses for olive oil
  • All-glass Pyrex containers for leftovers
  • Tin cans as a glass alternative

Make zero waste coffee and tea

Ever realized how much waste goes into making coffee or tea each morning? Coffee filters, pods, tea bag wrappers, cream and sugar packaging — it all adds up over time.

Eliminating it all in favor of zero waste coffee and tea isn’t only better, it makes your morning mug even more delicious. You can buy fresh coffee grounds and loose-leaf tea in bulk and store them in glass jars. It’s fun to purchase and display all the flavors you love!

Try a stainless steel kettle and/or glass coffee pot to brew your own tea (with a reusable filter!) and opt for a nice sugar bowl instead of small paper packets.

Buy in bulk

In many areas you can buy all of your pantry items in bulk — spices, coffee, tea, granola, cereal, baking supplies, nuts and more. Doing so is a great way to cut back on plastic, create a better storage system in your pantry, and eliminate other packaging waste. Even better — it’s a money saver for you!

Most grocery stores that sell in bulk will even let you bring your own containers. For example, you can bring your glass storage jars to purchase spices, fill them up, and have them weighed at check out (don’t forget to subtract the weight of your jar).

Make easy sustainable switches

Beeswax wrap covering a food bowl.

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Take a look around your kitchen. How many items can you quickly identify as replaceable with a more sustainable option? There are probably more than you think. Here are some quick and easy swaps you can make for a more sustainable kitchen:

  • Cloth napkins and towels over paper
  • Reusable tableware like plates and cups (no paper or plastic)
  • Metal silverware (no plastic throwaway cutlery)
  • Metal or silicone drinking straws in place of plastic
  • Wood kitchen utensils instead of plastic
  • Beeswax paper instead of plastic wrap for food items
  • Reusable silicone storage bags instead of plastic
  • Replace plastic cleaning brushes and bottles with wood and glass

Notice a theme here? Many of your plastic supplies are one-time or short-term use, and they’re not eco-friendly. These alternatives are longer-lasting and better for your family.

Filter your drinking water

Did you know that more than 80% of plastic water bottles used in the United States become garbage or litter? More than 2 million tons exist in our landfills today — even though there is an easier alternative right at the kitchen sink!

Ditch plastic water bottles in favor of filtered tap water. You can buy a home water filter for less than $30 and use reusable cups and bottles (even when you’re on the go!) for a much more environmentally-friendly alternative.

Finish your food

Many of us mindlessly waste food without even thinking about it! Food accounts for about 25% of the waste put in landfills each year.

You can be sure you’re not part of this problem by getting intentional about the food you make and planning to eat your leftovers! For starters, don’t make larger portions than you need. This often happens when we blindly follow recipes without considering how many they serve.

Second, plan to eat your leftovers the next day! The longer they sit, the less likely you are to go back to them. You can even store in oven-safe portion plates so they’re ready to easily grab and reheat.

Compost your food scraps

Woman using indoor composting bin.

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When you do have leftovers, consider composting them. If your community has composting or you have your own bin outdoors, great! But even if not, there are indoor composters that don’t take up much space and require varying levels of maintenance, depending on what you’re up for.

If you’re a newbie to composting, check out this helpful guide on what you can and cannot compost at home.

Grow your own herbs

This one takes a little commitment, but it’s also really rewarding. You can grow leafy herbs like thyme, parsley, basil, mint, rosemary and more right in your kitchen! Growing your own herbs is zero waste, easy, and only takes up a small bit of space.  All you need is a small planter box and some helpful instructions to get going.

Start with this video guide:

Be a minimalist in the kitchen

Kitchens somehow end up hanging on to a lot of the clutter we don’t need in our homes. We’ve all got that one “junk drawer” we just can’t get rid of, right? But letting go of the clutter in our kitchens not only makes us happier and less stressed, it eliminates wastefulness in our homes.

Here are some quick easy steps for kitchen minimalism:

  • Cull your pots, pans, cooking equipment, and dishes. Get rid of the ones you no longer need or never use.
  • Organize your cabinets and drawers. When you keep things organized, you’re more aware of what you have and what you no longer need.
  • Clean out your pantry. Most people have items they use so rarely that they’re usually past their “use by” date. Make it a habit to clean out the pantry regularly, and don’t buy items just because they’re kitchen staples. Buy only what you like and use!

If you’re moving to the Dayton area, Oberer Homes can help you find the home that’s right for you. Contact us today to get started!

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