Are you asking yourself how to turn your kitchen zero waste? Look no further.
I am going to show you the easiest zero waste swaps which you can easily integrate into your everyday life as well as DIY recipes for non-toxic homemade products. They are cheaper and healthier for you and your body as well as the environment. So it is a win-win-situation for everyone!
Zero waste for me is a bout becoming more aware of the products that you buy and make mindful and minimalist decisions with every purchase. Ask yourself: “Do I really need this or can I get this second hand?” And when reading my tips please remember you can simply use up the products you already have now until they are done and then buy the zero waste alternative next time you need new items. By any means please do not throw away all non-sustainable plastic products now!
A general tip is to avoid single-use disposables in general as a rule of thumb. Use reusables instead. And it is important to realise that recycling is not the answer to plastic pollution and the rubbish accumulation in general. I see it as the minimum requirement and the actual solution is reshaping our relationship with consumption.
1. Keep mason jars and reuse them
We tend to forget that we not only buy products but also the packaging they come with. It is not the company paying for the packaging – it is YOU. And you then pay the local waste management facility fees to collect that packaging in your rubbish collection. So considering that a proportion of the price I pay is solely for the packaging I might as well make use of that if I can. A good example for this are mason jars. You can obviously go out and buy all the fancy mason jars but to be honest you probably get them with most of your food shopping already – if you like it or not. So make use of them as food containers, for DIY cosmetics, for candles etc. Or collect them and give them away via an online marketplace. Gift them to a kindergarten for arts and crafts, they also appreciate empty toilet paper rolls, tins, and corks. Think outside the box and you will end up with tons of great ideas on how to reuse mason jars.
2. Using wooden or metal utensils
Switch to using wooden or metal utensils instead of plastic ones. Firstly, they last a lot longer than plastic ones. Secondly, they do not contain any toxic chemicals. And thirdly, wood and metal can be recycled as materials and therefore live on and be turned into something else afterwards. Check with your local waste management facility how to correctly recycle them in order for them to be reused as this differs greatly from country to country and actually even city to city.
3. Avoid buying over-packaged products and use produce bags
This does not require you to go to a bulk store – although that would be great if available to you. You can simply become more aware when out shopping. Next time you are in the supermarket go for the unpackaged carrots instead of the packaged ones. Maybe consider bringing your own produce bag which you can simply make from old fabrics or use a cotton bag. Just try and pay attention to what you buy and consider if there is a less packaged alternative. That alone will already make a big difference and have a huge positive impact!
4. Use a tea strainer
Reduce your waste by not using single-use tea bags but a tea strainer with lose tea instead. They come in all shapes and sizes as well as materials like fabric or stainless steel.
5. Using straws made of stainless steel or glass
Plastic straws are one of the main plastic pollutants today and there is no need for single-use items like them. Straws made out of stainless steel or glass are beautiful to look at, last nearly forever and again, do not contain harmful toxins and on top do not produce any waste. Simply clean them with the little brush they come with and reuse them!
6. Use a fabric cloth instead of paper towels
This is a great upcycling project because you definitely have an old jumper lying around somewhere waiting to be cut into fabric cloths. They can easily replace single-use paper towels and also look prettier.
7. Use beeswax food wrap
Instead of using foil or cling film use reusable beeswax to wrap your food. This is a great zero waste product which you do not necessarily have to buy but can simply make yourself at home from things you already have lying around. Everything you need is some old fabric, beeswax, jojoba oil (or any other carrier oil), and an oven. They also make for a great personalised present!
8. Make your own non-toxic cleaning products
Instead of buying ten different products claiming to be for ten different purposes, just make an all-purpose vinegar cleaner yourself. And I promise you it will not even take a minute to prepare. Two options. Number one is to simply pour white vinegar in a jar and add some essential oils of your liking and use straight away. Alternatively fill a jar with any citrus fruit peel and cover entirely with white vinegar and then let it sit for two weeks before use. For increased cleaning effect use two to three drops of any biodegradable liquid soap. If you are hardcore you can obviously use vinegar on its own but most people dread the smell of it.
9. Use wooden and metal brushes and sponges
As with the wooden utensils these last longer and can be recycled. Steel wool is great for pots and pans and wooden brushes can be composted. Veggie brushes are great for reducing food scrap waste. Simply use them to brush fruit and veg clean instead of peeling them.
10. DIY dishwasher powder recipe
Simply mix the following ingredients together and it is immediately ready to use:
200 gr baking soda
200 gr washing soda
200 gr citric acid
100 gr table salt
Remember to be inspired by all the different zero waste swaps and not be scared of them. Zero waste is a journey and it should not be rushed – otherwise you reach the end way too soon and miss out on all the fun along the way! So pick whatever suits you the most first and then go step by step and add more and more aspects to your daily routine. That way you avoid being overwhelmed and lose your motivation. You can make the world a better place and bring about change – you just have to start with yourself.
My credo is “Not everyone has to do everything but everyone can to something.” Lead by example and inspire others to become more aware as well!
Ask yourself and others the question: “Where does my rubbish actually go?” Finding the answer to this question will send you on an interesting journey. It has definitely done it for me at least and I hope you will follow me on this so unbelievably rewarding path of creating instead of consuming.
Please do not hesitate to contact me through social media or my website with any questions you might have – I am more than happy to help out where I can.
Marlena Sdrenka is the founder of Zero Waste Plant Power, an organisation that aims to increase awareness for a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle for everyone. She gives advice on her blog and on her Facebook and Instagram on how to incorporate more sustainable routines into your everyday lives by buying products with less packaging for instance. Moreover she gives talks and holds workshops to reach as many people as possible and raise awareness of the consequences of plastic pollution and other ongoing sustainability issues. Her approach is to go back to the old ways a bit, think about what our grandparents used to clean and make food, as we have unfortunately lost our sense for that. Therefore she provides information on how to make your own cleaning products, cosmetics and other handy things in the household. They are therefore non-toxic, mainly plastic-free, fun to make and also cheaper than conventional products.