The Kitchen

The kitchen is usually the home's waste "hub." A continuous stream of food waste, paper towels, napkins, packaging, junk mail and other trash from around the house usually collect in the kitchen and then are sorted into curbside bins. If you begin by focusing your zero waste efforts in the kitchen, you can put a significant dent in your current waste.

STOP BUYING DISPOSABLES. Observe. Take note of what disposables you use (paper towels, paper napkins, tin foil, plastic wrap, plastic baggies, etc.). Research alternatives you could use to replace them. 

WAIT. Observe. Think of ways you can do things differently that fit your situation and your needs. 

GET REUSABLE ALTERNATIVES. Find reusable alternatives at consignment stores, rummage sales, garage sales, and local online groups (NextDoor, Facebook, etc.). Better yet, start looking in your own home or asking friends and family. The process of moving toward a zero waste kitchen takes time. When I began, I stopped buying disposables and used the time it took to use up the last paper towel I owned to figure out an alternative that worked for my situation. I used the shrinking paper towel roll as a count down for how long I had until I needed an alternative in place that worked. (My eventual solution was a basket filled with well-loved cloth hand towels and wash cloths under my sink, all of which I already owned...FREE!!)

USE IT UP. WEAR IT OUT. MAKE IT DO. More often than not, the answer is that you need less. Less gives you the natural motivation to get out of your house rather than hole up in your own bunker. (Can I connect with a neighbor by borrowing from them? Can I give a local store my business by renting and avoiding the hassle of maintaining the item myself? Can I share my extras with others who have none?)

USE TAP WATER. Get your water tested if you have concerns and install a filter specific for your tap's needs. Chill water in reusable non-plastic containers.

BUY IN BULK. Loose bulk items from the grocery store eliminates waste from entering your home. You vote with your wallet. When you buy these items you are sending a message that you like not having packaging and you want more items without packaging. 

In my home, we follow these guides...

Refuse: Disposables (paper napkins, plates, cups, paper towels), low-quality utensils and appliances (spatulas that melt, non-stick pans that flake, appliances that break after little use), food with disposable packaging

Reduce: use multi-use utensils & appliances instead of single-action gadgets (one knife instead of an herb chopper, garlic mincer, AND apple slicer), food with disposable packaging, duplicate items (bottle openers, pizza cutters, measuring cups), plan meals so food is not wasted, store food in containers that extend shelf-life

Reuse: Cloth napkins, cloth towels, cloth rags, food containers (glass jars, cloth bags, glass bottles), buy used utensils when needed, prioritize buying food with reusable/returnable packaging

Recycle: Food containers that are no longer reusable

Rot: Compost food waste & food-soaked paper products (such as pizza boxes)