We all worry about the state of our planet and what it will be like in the future for our children and grandchildren. We also know that plastic is one of the main culprits for producing unrecyclable, nonbiodegradable garbage that is filling up our landfills and oceans.
The average American home produces 3.5 pounds of trash a day, and only 8% ever gets recycled. It seems like an overwhelming problem that scares most of us into doing nothing!
But you can help by trying out these easy-to-do ideas to reduce your plastic footprint in the kitchen. Because that is the place where most of the plastic waste is produced.
How to easily use less plastic in the kitchen
1. Switch to reusable food wraps and bowl covers
Urg, cling wrap! How many pieces do you ball up and throw away before you actually get a good piece off to cover your bowl, without cutting your fingers?
Well, not that many once you get some experience with it, but it’s still a waste!
Reusable food wraps made from beeswax, resins, natural oils, and organic cotton, which keep food naturally fresh and are reusable time and time again are a better option here. They are easy to clean & care for and stick to themselves or a bowl beautifully.
They are a sustainable choice for wrapping fresh food, like ½ an avocado, onions, pie, or bread, keeping the odors in the wrap and the food from spoiling in the fridge.
Also, they help you save space when you use them as these wraps are molded by the heat of your hands to fit the shape of the bowl or package. They are bio-degradable and can be cut up and put in your compost at the end of their life.
A similar product available is stretchable bowl covers. These are microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe. They come in a variety of sizes, and colors, and will outlast any roll of cling wrap, frustration-free! Stretch, seal, and store! It can’t get easier!
2. Use glass containers
This is actually the method that I switched to – even though you can never switch to using just glass containers. You will still need food wraps every now and then, but we have already talked about environment-friendly choices there as well.
Back to the glass containers, these are perfect if bought in packs: grab a few different sizes and you will use the for a looong time. They are easy to stack up in the fridge and easy to clean.
Even though heavier and more expensive than plastic containers, they are the better choice as they are also healthier. So make the switch sooner rather than later.
3. Reusable sponges and pot scrubbers
These are sponges made from viscose, a fiber made from trees in sustainable forests, which allows them to have qualities like being able to absorb over 15 times their weight in liquid.
They can stand to be machine washed, or put them in your dishwasher, so there is no bacteria build-up, and they are easy to wring out and continue using. They will outlast many a plastic sponge which can get really dirty as an added downside.
There are also crocheted nylon tulle scrubbers on the market, in an array of colors.
Where sponges hold germs and odors, and steel wool tends to fall apart quickly (and is a choking hazard), you can feel confident that you are not spreading germs and nasty bacteria when wiping down your kitchen counters and surfaces and scrubbing your pots. They are scratch-resistant and prevent odor as well.
3. Use silicone food storage bags
Get out of here, ziplock! These fantastic silicone food storage bags are easy to seal, leak-proof, withstand high temperatures, and that makes them ideal for taking from the freezer to the stove or the microwave.
They have a writable surface, and a zipped hermetic seal to store liquids or solids. And they stand up by themselves!
They also are available in various sizes, large for family-sized meals, meal prep, larger fruits and vegetables, and in sandwich size for snacks and food to go. Now that’s cool!
Space-saving to store, they repel water and germs and will have your refrigerator organized in minutes. Apart from easy maintenance, they guarantee maximum food hygiene and safety for adults, baby, and pet food.
And they help you greatly reduce plastic waste in the kitchen, which is what we’re trying to achieve with the help of today’s article.
4. Cleaning Products you probably have at home already
Vinegar mixed with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is a very effective cleaning product, and inexpensive too.
This mixture will clean just about anything. Cruddy stovetops, yellowing toilets, countertops, and give a shine to your taps and door handles.
Apply your vinegar to a surface, add the bicarb, and watch it foam! For best results, I have found that leaving the solution for a few minutes to work it’s magic, makes clean up a breeze.
Consider purchasing a bar of natural soap for beside your sink, made from coconut oil, water, and essential oils. This way, you avoid plastic bottles of detergent.
You can use this for cleaning dishes, floors, greasy hands, toys, whatever needs cleaning. It even works on laundry stains. It is economical and will last a long time if you keep it dry between uses. And most importantly, helps you reduce plastic waste in the Kitchen with all those bottles for various detergents…
5. Reusable mesh vegetable bags
These are a must if you are serious about reducing plastic in your kitchen and avoiding those awful thin plastic bags they expect you to use in the grocery store. These mesh bags are durable, lightweight, see-through, reliable, and extend the life of your fruits and vegetables.
They are machine-washable and can be used to store other household items such as small laundry pieces, snacks, and toys.
They have a drawstring closure, can be rolled up or folded, and are easily included in your reusable shopping bags. Just don’t forget to take them with you!
6. Reusable water-bottles and coffee cups
Buy a reusable water bottle or canteen that you can refill and use around your home or office.
You have a ton of options here – as well as materials available – and they come in such a variety of colors and designs that you can easily find one that suits your personal style and taste.
While on the subject of drinks and hydration, think about carrying a personal coffee mug as well.
The cups handed to you for your take-out coffee are used for a maximum of 20 minutes. We then chuck them in the garbage and produce a ton of waste… reusable cups are a saver for this planet!
7. Ditch those K-Cups!
We all love our great Keurig Coffee maker, but the truth is that those one-use K-cups are not very friendly to the environment.
The good news is that you don’t have to stop using your machine – instead, opt for the reusable cups or, when using the plastic k-cups, make sure to take the time afterwards to separate them and recycle!
It might not seem much at first, but they do add up quickly and contribute a lot to the plastic-related problems our planet is dealing with nowadays.
8. Plastic straws vs Metal straws
Another small thing that does add up is the “traditional” plastic straw that we use with our drinks.
While most chains out there have stepped up their fight against plastic waste and are now offering paper straws, if you like to use them at home, you’re even better with switching to metal straws.
These have extremely long life, can be cleaned easily and come in so many shapes and colors that you will never get bored of them!
9. Cook your own food!
All that pre-cooked food is extremely easy to prepare: you just pop it into the microwave and it’s done. Takeout is even faster, while all those juices you drink make a dinner perfect.
But there’s a ton of plastic that you’re producing with each of them and you have some more time consuming options to help reduce waste.
Cook your own food from base ingredients (that you purchase making sure you’re using as little plastic as possible), make your own juice at home and reduce the amount of take-out you order. Or get pizza, since that at least comes in a paper box!
10. Reduce single-use plastic bags
Just as it is the case of the coffee mugs, many of the plastic bags that we get in contact with are used for a very limited amount of time.
Make it a habit to bring your own bags when you go shopping – there are lots of options that you have when it comes to reusable shopping bags and there’s no real reason to be ashamed or feel strange if you bring yours to the store (yup – there are people who consider it strange to do it).
By following these ideas I have presented, you can make a significant impact on removing plastic from landfill sites and the earth and begin to make a difference in our world now and our children’s future world.
Our natural environment, including animals, trees, and the oceans, will thank you and you will see that it’s not that difficult, in the end, to get used to reducing the amount of plastic you need in your kitchen.
All in all, if you pay attention when you go shopping for new products and are aware of the amount of plastic you are using, it will be a lot easier for you to take the necessary steps and reduce the waste.