Looking for ways to get started on your zero waste kitchen? Here are our favourite simple swaps. We're in the kitchen everyday because we need to eat, what we don't need is bags worth of single use products being thrown away each day. Replacing all your single-use plastic or paper items with reusable items will not only save you money, but it'll make a big impact on the amount of landfill waste you produce. We promise these simple swaps are easy, affordable, and better for the environment!
1. Paper Towels → Biodegradable Cloths
It takes 17 trees and more than 75,000 litres of water to one ton of paper towels. Not to mention the deforestation, forced displacement of animals, and carbon emissions it takes to then produce and ship paper towels.
Biodegradable cloths are reusable, so you can use them for years without having to through them out. You can also reuse old clothes instead of buying new ones. These are a VERY effective simple swap, and when it comes down to it, doesn't require a big change. After using them to clean up spills or wipe counters, you can immediately wash them by hand or and hang them to dry, or throw them in the laundry. An easy (and simple) swap!
2. Sponges → Wood Dish Brush
Not only are sponges bad for the environment because they're constantly being thrown away, but they're just downright unsanitary. One study shows that "kitchen environments host more microbes than toilets", and that "This was mainly due to the contribution of kitchen sponges".
Ditch your sponge for a more sustainable and hygienic product, the wooden dish brush. Each brush head can be used for up to 6 months, and the heads can be replaced so you can keep using the handle! Not only that, but they are home compostable which means that you can literally bury the wood and bristles in your garden! This product will last longer, and absorb fewer bacteria in comparison to disposable sponges.
3. Aluminum Foil → Silicone Baking Mat
Producing aluminum foil is a complex and resource intensive process, and it takes over 500 years to breakdown. While you can reuse aluminum foil a few times, you can't clean the foil and in the end, it'll end up at the landfill.
Silicone baking mats are far superior. They're one of our most popular products! The material is non-toxic, and non-stick, making it much easier and safer to clean and use. You can easily wash the mat by hand or in the dishwasher. They last a few years so this simple swap allows you to replace multiple boxes of aluminum foil with one mat.
4. Paper Coffee Filters/ K cups → Reusable Coffee Filter
Some of us may need our daily coffee, but what we don't need is the daily waste produced from disposable coffee filters, or k cups. These single-use products are an easy fix that can make you feel better in the morning.
Reusable coffee filters are a great simple swap because they can last years, replacing thousands of paper filters! Rinse them after use, then hang them to dry, and boil them once a month to keep them fresh. There are a variety of options that will fit your need, you can use them in your machine or use them to create drip coffee.
5. Plastic Cutlery → Bamboo Cutlery
Single-use plastic cutlery is easily avoidable if you’re well prepared. If you don't feel like cooking, that's okay! Getting takeout might be the alternative you go for, but a lot of restaurants offer plastic utensils, which sometimes come in single-use plastic bags. Reduce your waste by having bamboo cutlery on hand when you go out.
It’s always good to be prepared and have a set of bamboo cutlery on hand and ready to go! Keep it in your car or in a place you can see when you usually leave the house. That's at least 3 plastics you're saving every meal.
Bonus tip: remember to say no to plastic utensils when getting delivery!
6. Zip Lock Bags → Reusable Sandwich Bags
You get a pack of 100 zip lock sandwich bags and use them in a few months, throw them away as you go, and then the process repeats itself. That's hundreds of single-use plastic bags a year. Some places accept zip lock bags in their recycling programs, but you need to clean them first and they're made of thin plastic so they can only be recycled once or twice before ending up in the landfill. If you're washing them anyways, you might as well get the reusable kind.
Reusable sandwich bags are the simple swap you've been dreaming of! You can use them at home to store food or take your sandwiches to go if you're in a hurry. One reusable bag can replace more than 300 single-use plastic bags.
7. Paper Napkins → Cloth Napkins
Using paper napkins, tissues, or towel paper for our face or hands after a meal is a bad habit we can all unlearn. Similar to paper towels, they take a lot of resources and energy to produce, for something you can only use once.
The simple swap alternative is cloth napkins or handkerchiefs! They're reusable up to an infinity of times so you can minimize your daily waste. They're easy to clean by hand or by just throwing them in your laundry. They're also multi-use, use them when you have a runny nose, allergies, and more!
8. Landfill → Composting
London doesn't have a city composting program (yet). But that doesn't mean we still can't compost! You might as yourself, does composting really matter? The answer is yes! Food in landfills does not receive oxygen, and thus it produces and releases methane gas which is more harmful than carbon dioxide. In composting, food receives this oxygen and thus it produces carbon dioxide instead.
We hope these easy simple swaps help your kitchen go zero waste!