zero waste in the kitchen

The kitchen is a place that we spend a lot of our time and also a place that can create a lot of waste. Some of this waste should be headed straight to the compost from your food scraps, but a lot of packaging, plastic, and containers can make their way in (and out) of your kitchen.

While I am nowhere near perfect, there are a few things that I try to do in the kitchen to try and reduce the waste that is coming in and going out from the food itself, to packing lunches, to the grocery store. Some of these suggestions will be products, but others will be general kitchen and life tips that you don’t need to have anything fancy to do.

At Home

  1. Cook More! Cooking for yourself creates much less waste that bringing home take out (unless you are getting them to put it in your own containers). This is increased even more if you are using ingredients that you grew yourself. Quite often my husband and I make meals entirely out of vegetables from our own garden and our CSA box, no packaging required
  2. Use your food. Food waste is an should be avoidable. Keep track of what is in your fridge and freezer and make sure you use things before they go bad. This also doesn’t mean throwing things out on the expiry date as this isn’t the day things magically go bad, use your eyes, nose, and intuition to figure out if things have actually gone off. If you can’t use your spinach in time, throw it in the freezer to use in stir-fry’s and if you have lots of food at home, don’t buy more until you have used what you have.
  3. Re-use your materials. There are still ziplock bags in my house and boxes and bags still come in. But we have washed and reused those bags so many times that we are still working on the same box from when we moved into this home a year and a half ago. If items come in boxes or trays and save them and use them to transport food to potlucks and such so I don’t have to worry about bringing things home. Don’t go out and buy things until you have used up the things you actually have.

At the Store

  1. Buy in bulk. This could mean going to a bulk store and getting things in mason jars and reusable bags, but it also means getting the bigger bag of flour or nuts to save packaging. One bigger bag uses less materials than multiple little ones (and it generally saves money overall as well)
  2. Go to the store less frequently. My husband and I maybe go grocery shopping once or twice a month. This is especially true in the summer when we have our garden and CSA box and so many fruit farms to buy from, but in general the less we go to the grocery store the less we buy. We don’t need so many things and if we let weeks go buy we actually have to use what we have in the house.
  3. See where you can avoid packaging. Produce doesn’t actually need to be in those plastic produce bags, either use a reusable one or a avoid it all together, see if you can buy something in cardboard instead of plastic and see if the deli will slice items into your own containers.

Things You Can Use

  1. Glass Containers. These come in handy for leftovers as we can both heat and freeze items in them and I bring them for my lunch at work.
  2. Cutlery. I never don’t have cutlery in my purse and there is always a set in the car for times when we want to eat out and avoid plastic utensils
  3. Straws and Cups. I try and tell myself that I am not allowed to get a drink out during my work day unless I bring my own cup, this both reduces my waste as well as how much I buy since I have to be prepared
  4. Napkins. Cloth napkins are both so much nicer than paper towels (especially when entertaining) and they are much better for the environment

Now I am not expecting anyone to make all these changes all at once, but each step that we make is helping our world a little bit. I have heard it said that we don’t need a few people doing zero waste perfectly, rather we need a lot of people doing a little bit to change the world.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Jamie Lin says:

    Thanks for sharing the message and spreading the word! I hope more people think about waste reduction. I’ve been thinking of making beeswax wraps to cover my food but don’t know if they are effective/safe. Do you know of any alternatives to plastic wrap to cover food?


    1. Andrea says:

      I have beeswax wraps but i find i don’t use them much. What i do use are thick silicon lids that go on bowls. They seal out air and are great for bowls of all sizes (i got mine at ikea)


  2. esoterica says:

    Such great suggestions!! I’ve made several of the same changes over the last decade. I think the most impactful has been buying 90% of groceries from the local farmer’s market and reusing the same tote bags. No waste! Recently, we transitioned to Stasher silicone “ziplock” bags and they’re amazing for snacks and pre-cut fruit/veggies. A little pricey, but I would highly recommend.


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