A zero waste kitchen is actually a very healthy (and we think aesthetic) kitchen. Basically everything is kitchen glass/ceramic, untreated wood, or stainless steel. For example, we like these organic bamboo cooking utensils, organic bamboo cutting boards, or these recycled plastic and flax husk cutting boards (nice for meat because they can tossed into the dishwasher), marble rolling pin, glass food containers, glass electric hot water kettle, stainless steel ice cube tray, ceramic enamel cast iron skillets, and stainless steel measuring cups. For the kitchen trash can, we use compostable large trash bags.
Because the most zero waste food is prepared at home, where you control the ingredients, avoid packaging, and can choose how to dispose of waste, it’s important to make your kitchen as easy to use as possible. Take good care of your appliances and invest in ones that will last in the long run. Most other things can be bought secondhand at a garage sale or thrift shop, like plates, mugs, and silverware.
Storing food can be tricky when you’ve given up plastic bags and plastic wrap. However, good containers for leftovers – something like this – makes all the difference! Any good, durable set of glass containers will do the trick. Glass jars, Mason jars, and Weck jars are all cute, practical, and great ways of storing almost anything! Emma even uses Mason jars to bring her lunch to work!
Stasher bags are also excellent for storing food and for making lunches – all the convenience of a zip-lock bag, and 100% reusable! They are made of sturdy silicone too, which lasts much longer than plastic or cloth. If you are in the market for organic cloth sandwich bags, check out these. Beeswax wraps are a wonderful reusable alternative to plastic wrap.
Tea and Coffee
For tea, we love buying tea in bulk and putting it beautiful jars like these (or any pretty glass jars really!) and using a reusable tea strainer. The most zero waste method of making coffee is with a French press – just make sure it is metal or glass. But you can also use these organic, reusable coffee filters.
As per usual, make the extra effort to buy spices, condiments, and sauces in glass, plastic, or aluminum containers and lids– materials that are easy to recycle. Organic pantry items tend to be produced in a more sustainable way. Take time to research a brand before buying to ensure that they have sustainable business practices. Another even better option is to buy your organic pantry items in bulk to avoid the packaging all together.
For all the bakers out there, try these unbleached parchment paper and muffin cups and compost them when you’re done. Although they are not reusable (which is ideal), like these silicone baking mat and muffin cups, they leach fewer chemicals into your delicious baked goods than silicone products.
We recommend these organic cotton napkins to replace paper towels. When you’re done with the napkin, just toss it in a designated bin or basket in your kitchen for laundry day. To learn more about zero waste laundry, see our post here!
However, if a paper towel is the only thing to get the job done, we love Who Gives a Crap’s paper towels because they are made from sugarcane and bamboo with no dyes, inks, or scents. Just make sure to compost them when you’re done! Sometimes stores like Grocery Outlet or even Walmart sell eco-friendly paper towels made from bamboo, so for some budget friendly options, search around those stores!
When we say “composting,” we mean you can put your compostable food scraps in this bin lined with biodegradable trash liners. When it’s full, just dump the whole mess in the curbside green waste bin. If you happen to own a backyard (or you’re a renter who’s landlord doesn’t mind a stinky mess), give actual composting a shot!
If this isn’t an option, you can try a freezer compost bin and take it to a local community garden compost when it gets too full. Another way to compost is to buy an organics zero waste box from TerraCycle – you mail in your organic waste, and they will compost it for you.
For washing dishes, we like these washable, compostable cotton “sponges” with a bamboo filler. Trader Joe’s also sells sponges that are amazing – long lasting, very absorbent, and made from cellulose (so the are compostable! Just cut them up into very little pieces to aid the break-down process). They do come wrapped in plastic so this purchase does come with some trash waste, but each plastic case has several sponges that come compressed, giving you several weeks or months worth of use – still a great alternative to plastic sponges! Full circle also has some great scrub brushes that are made from bamboo and recycled plastic.
We recommend this dish soap by Ecover. It’s a great brand because their plastic containers are made from plants and most score A’s on the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. For more tips on how to clean your kitchen zero-waste style, take a look at our post on green cleaning.
Check out our Kitchen board on Pinterest to get more more eco-friendly inspiration!
Disclaimer: We receive no financial compensation for any of the products recommended or shared anywhere in this blog.