Kitchens can be one of the biggest sources of waste. It’s where we cook our meals, wash our dishes, pack up our food for later, and dispose of our food scraps. Whether it’s food, packaging, or water wastage, most people can admit to being less-than-perfect in their kitchen habits. That’s why if you want to live a more sustainable life, it’s imperative that you make a commitment to reducing kitchen waste.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to reduce waste in the kitchen in 5 easy steps. You don’t have to implement them all at once; in fact, we recommend you adopt them one-by-one. That way, you’ll prevent burn-out and frustration. It takes time to develop a new habit!
But first, let’s take a look at why it’s important to learn how to reduce kitchen waste.
Why should I learn how to reduce kitchen waste?
Reducing your kitchen waste shrinks your carbon footprint. Many of our age-old habits lead to unnecessary plastic waste, and single-use plastics wreak havoc on the environment. Additionally, our food waste management systems create greenhouse gasses. If you’re thinking about reducing your waste, changing your habits in the kitchen is a great place to start.
Kitchen waste can be broken down into 3 main categories: food waste, packaging, and cleaning products. We’re willing to bet that you have room for improvement in at least one of these categories!
What are the benefits of reducing kitchen waste?
Aside from environmental impact, there are lots of reasons to learn how to reduce kitchen waste. For one, smart alternatives to common kitchen supplies, like cling film and waxed paper, save you money over time. Less trash also means less trips to the garbage bin (sometimes in -40 degree weather!).
Going low-waste in the kitchen also has an emphasis on whole foods and cooking from scratch. When you cook with unprocessed foods, you get more fiber and vitamins in your diet.
Lastly, packaging, trash and generic cleaning supplies are unsightly. Reducing kitchen waste means more natural beauty in your kitchen. Think of it as a mini kitchen makeover!
Without further ado, we’ll show you how to reduce your kitchen waste with these 5 top tips.
1.Ditch plastic dish soap bottles.
Sure, dish soap bottles are technically recyclable. But did you know that only 9% of plastic waste gets recycled? The best thing to do is to refuse the plastic dish soap bottle altogether. You never know where the bottle is going to end up (in the landfill most likely). Plus, think about all the energy and fossil fuels that were extracted just to make them.
Instead, switch to dish soap blocks. Considering most dish soaps are mostly water, it’ll last you a lot longer than liquid dish soap. If you can’t break up with liquid dish soap just yet, we offer refills of liquid dish soap. Refilling any container, especially a container with a pump, is still a great way to reduce waste.
We also recommend Swedish dish cloths instead of regular kitchen cloths. They last much longer, and they’re washable and compostable.
2.Avoid single-use food wraps of all kinds.
We know that plastic wrap, plastic zipper bags, and parchment paper are all ridiculously convenient for storing and transporting food. But they come at a hidden cost, and they’re not sustainable. Slowly make swaps for all of these items over time. For plastic wrap and wax paper, try beeswax wraps. Just like plastic wrap, they stick to themselves, creating a snug fit around bowls.
For plastic zipper bags, consider reusable silicone food bags. If you already have large plastic zipper bags at home, consider washing and reusing them a few times. Try not to reuse them too many times though–the plastic will eventually degrade, and you run the risk of plastic leaching.
Before you go grocery shopping, think about what meals you’re going to make during the week. Then, make a list of individual items you need to make your meals. Arrive at the grocery store with a list at the ready.
Though time can be a constraint, especially if you’re a busy working parent, making meals from scratch minimizes food waste. Try to buy things that you can use for multiple meals. For example, plain yogurt has more uses than individual fruit-bottom yogurt cups. It can be your mayo, your tzatziki, your sour cream, and your sweet treat all in one! Plus, yogurt tubs make great reusable containers.
4.Make the most of your food.
Preserving your food before it goes bad is key to learning how to reduce kitchen waste. Freezers are great for preserving foods that you have too much of. For example, herbs that can only be purchased in huge quantities can be preserved beautifully. Don’t let all that beautiful flavour rot in your fridge! Instead, muddle them in olive oil, pour the mixture into an ice cube tray, and freeze the tray. Now, you have herbs anytime you want (and delicious herb-infused oil!).
Instead of buying veggie stock, you can make it yourself very easily at home. Just collect and freeze veggie scraps, and when you have enough, simmer them in water for a few hours. Then, strain and pour into storage containers. Things like carrot skin peels, onion skins, cauliflower stalks, and the ends of garlic cloves work great. Your veggie stock will last in the freezer for about 4 months. Can someone say butternut squash soup!?
5.Compost your food scraps.
Composting your food scraps is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. And, if you’re a gardener or own any indoor plants, compost soil will bring your plants to life. Save your kitchen scraps like carrot shavings, strawberry tops, and coffee grounds (avoid meat, dairy, and oil). Throw your kitchen scraps into a compost tumbler, along with double the amount of dried leaves, twigs, and ripped-up cardboard. To learn more about composting, check out our guide on how to use a kitchen compost bin!
A kitchen sink approach
Though it can take a bit more time to get used to these new habits, they’ll become second nature. It’s amazing how quickly we can adapt to washing and caring for reusable food wraps and food storage bags. Not only will you overcome the need for convenient plastic bottles of dish soap–you won’t want them anymore. And your kitchen will be easier on the wallet (and on the eyes!) in no time.