Have you ever wondered if our habits in the kitchen can become low waste? Of course they can! In this article I show you how I do it, but also how to do it yourself.
From paper towels to cleaning equipment, the kitchen is one of the largest sources of waste in most homes. But who said that should be the rule?
By redefining our habits, we can very easily swap conventional convenience products with more sustainable options. Swapping may cost a little more at first, but repeated use of viable options will save you time and money in the long run. You don’t believe me? Maybe this article will convince you!
The secret lies in being organized
Every person that adopts habits in order to reduce their ecological footprint is an organized person. None of these habits are difficult, but they certainly need you to be organized, in order to be sustainable in the long run. In this article I focus on some tips and tricks that will help you turn your kitchen into a low waste paradise.
First step to get organized? Grab your notebook and take notes! What do you mean this is 2021 and you can just take a screenshot?
In my effort for a low waste kitchen I swapped…
The dish sponge with a brush
This is probably one of my favorite kitchen swaps. Wooden dishwashing brushes are not only an environmentally friendly solution, but also help you avoid touching any yucky leftover guacamole on dishes. These brushes have a wooden handle that is very convenient and makes washing dishes much easier, at least for me they have been very comfortable.
Did you know that conventional sponges are made of plastic, and each wash releases thousands of microplastics into the water that end up in the sea?
Wooden brushes are made of natural materials *, they last a long time and as soon as it’s time to throw them away, we can do it “fearlessly” since the materials are naturally biodegradable. These brushes are made of wood and natural hair. As for natural hair, if you are wondering if it is vegan friendly like me, you can choose a good brand that assures you that the animal from which they took the hair did not suffer and in fact it was just a haircut.
I bought mine here, but they are available in many stores. There are many types depending on the desired use and what suits everyone, but I like this one. Also this is a convenient option for bottles / containers with a thin spout.
Caution! To make this swap count, choose an authentic ec0-friendly local store for your purchase and not huge empires like zara home. Oops!
Conventional paper towels with recycled paper towels or cloths
Another conventional product that you may not have thought about its consequences on the planet. In general, if you enter the wonderful world of zero waste, an important value is imprinted on your DNA: “If it’s disposable, I don’t want it.” just like with paper towels, that are essentially used for a few seconds and then discarded. Why is this bad?
- Because conventional paper towels are synthetic, thus containing microplastics
- Because their packaging is plastic so every time we buy an item, we throw away a plastic bag
- Because tons of energy has been wasted and trees have been cut down to create paper towels, for them to be used for a few seconds and then to be rendered useless.
The best solution to the above is to completely stop using paper towels by replacing them with cloths, towels, etc. A cotton cloth is just as absorbent and because it is reusable, doesn’t harm the environment to the same degree. Is that water on the floor? Wipe it with the towel and then wash it. Reuse is my best friend.
If paper towels are a necessity, then you can buy this one that is made from recycled paper and comes in a more eco-friendly packaging. Although this paper is recycled, I think chlorine has been used in its processing. (Yes, I have such a sensitive nose that I can understand such details.) This makes me think that it is not the ideal alternative.
If you look a little further, you will see that there is this option as well. These are washable and reusable paper towels. I have tried it, it is convenient but it is not the best of the best.
We have the recycled paper towels at home for emergencies, but we really almost never use them. Less than once in 15 days. We simply don’t need it.
Of course, the same goes for napkins. We don’t use any! I have made beautiful square checkered cloths in case we need them.
Wettex with reusable dishcloths
For absorbent dishcloths (which we all know as wettex) it’s a no brainer that they are 100% plastic. The worst thing about these cleaning cloths is that with each use and contact with water, they release microplastics that pollute the aquifer. Same goes for microfiber cloths. These cloths, although very effective, are very harmful for the environment.
Apart from the fact that these products are in themselves harmful to the environment, it is important to think about their plastic packaging.
Fortunately, there is a solution to this small but important problem. I use washable, reusable and compostable towels like these. These can last 3-4 washes. Then they get very dirty and are not as absorbent. Another good solution is this washable and reusable cleaning cloth.
Plastic bags with biodegradable ones
Waste management is a very big issue in itself, which I would like to discuss in a separate article in the future. However, because the way we dispose of organic waste is a very important, I am here today to share with you the biggest trick :
These biodegradable / compostable garbage bags from starch, by sapontina. And to answer your questions:
We use these in the kitchen and bathroom.
Truth be told: As you can see, because these bags are made from natural / plant materials, they are more sensitive. This means that it isn’t a good idea to stuff them, because they are very likely to tear. This happens to us quite often, but now we have learned our lesson. These bags must be filled enough so that they don’t tear. Caution! I don’t mean that you should throw them away while they have little rubbish, that’s not low waste! Before you come to any conclusions, test them.
We also have a household compost bin in our kitchen, but we will talk about that in a separate article.
To sum up :
These biodegradable and compostable garbage bags are very useful. Thanks to their existence, I feel calmer when I take out the trash. Since they are made of plant materials, when thrown away, this bag will biodegrade much faster than the ordinary plastic bags that remain on Earth for hundreds of years.
Bonus: The best thing about these bags is that they can be thrown in compost bins. If you have brown bins in your neighborhood for organic waste, you can throw these bags in the bin. #zerowaste Yes, the bags will be composted along with their contents, and converted into compost. Caution! An important condition for throwing everything in the brown bins is to be organic. Obvious, but not self-evident, unfortunately.
What about dish soap?
In this case, there are many alternatives as well. The best thing is to do your research and see what works through trial and error. Remember! What works for you and also for the environment.
We use this dish soap, which is very effective. Its packaging is also recyclable from recycled plastic found at sea. Not only do we choose this dish soap, but we also choose the large packaging.
Reminder : The larger the package, the less plastic we waste. 1 big plastic water bottle is better than 2 small ones.
For the dishwasher, we use soap from the same company and we are very happy.
Saving water in the kitchen
An equally important detail in the low waste kitchen chapter is the water savings that can be achieved in many ways. What we do is :
- Every Saturday when we buy our vegetables from the farmer’s market, we wash the greens in the sink, by filling it with water. After 30 minutes, we remove the greens and drain. With all the water left in the sink, we water some of our plants. I have calculated that it is a total of 10 liters! Wouldn’t it be a shame to waste 10 liters of water for a single rinse?
- We use a dishwasher which is known to help save water.
- We do not let the water run while we soap the dishes.
In general, I consciously think about what all my actions in the kitchen mean and wherever I can, I make sure to recycle water and reduce its use.
Here’s another thing I do with…
This may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s something that came reasonably, and now I do it unconsciously and without any difficulty.
You may already know that you shouldn’t leave the refrigerator open for a long time or open and close it several times because this wastes a lot of energy. This happens because opening the refrigerator door raises its temperature and then it makes an extra effort to stay cold. Makes sense, right? What do I do? I minimize “opening-closing” in the following way.
Let’s say I want to make carrot pancakes. Before I open the fridge, I think about all the ingredients I will use and place them on the counter. In the past, every time I used something, I would put it back in the fridge. Now, I leave everything on the counter and open the fridge once to put it all back. The trick is to think carefully about what should come out and what should come in afterwards, so that we open the refrigerator once to take out the ingredients and once to put them back.
Quite simple, right?
Have you tried something that helps us low waste cool guys in the kitchen?
I will be very happy to read your tips and tricks for a low waste kitchen in the comments below!
See you soon,