6 Easy and Inexpensive Swaps for a Zero-Waste Kitchen

published Apr 20, 2022
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If you’re looking to establish a more zero-waste lifestyle, the kitchen is a great place to begin incorporating some changes into your daily life and routine. From cutting back on single-use plastics to buying reusable versions of everyday items, the kitchen has great potential to be an environmentally impactful place in your life. 

Remember to focus on “better” rather than perfect — and that every little bit counts. Even if all you do is stop buying plastic straws and switch out your paper napkins, you’re doing a great service for the planet. By assessing your habits, you can begin to swap out common, convenient, and resource-intensive products for more sustainable options. 

Start your zero-waste (or more eco-friendly) journey with these six simple and budget-friendly kitchen swaps that serve as small and practical steps for a more sustainable lifestyle. The swaps are all low-cost, and they can be used over and over, paying you dividends far into the future.

Cloth Napkins 

Be eco-friendly and save money by ditching single-use paper towels for cloth napkins. Not only do cloth napkins help cut down on paper resources, but they also dress up the kitchen table. These 100 percent pure linen napkins come in 13 different colors and are machine-washable. Plus, they’re durable, hold up well, and don’t fade with washing. 

Some other low-cost alternatives for paper towels that you might already have in your home include dish towels, rags, tea towels, old bath towels, and bandanas. This pack of 12 organic cotton kitchen towels from Utopia will run you $19.99 and comes in seven different colors. These don’t just save you from throwing plastic wrapping and single-use paper into your trash, but towels are also more effective for heavy spills than paper towels. 

Reusable Bags 

Say goodbye to disposable plastic zipper-lock bags. According to recent research, plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. 

For storing produce, you can try using reusable bags made of organic cotton. Clomigger offers a pack of nine in three different sizes for $11.99. They’re machine washable, so you can use them over and over again. Just remember to take them with you when you go shopping and use them in place of the plastic produce bags provided at grocery stores. 

To pack meals and to freeze foods, try out reusable zipper storage bags. These double zipper-lock silicone bags from SPLF are heavy-duty and thick, yet flexible. You can get a set of six snack-size and six sandwich-size bags for just under $13. Now you can enjoy your lunch instead of feeling guilty about single-use plastic!

Reusable Coffee Filters

Coffee filters are another resource-intensive paper product to be avoided if possible. A good idea for waste-free coffee is to invest in a French press. It doesn’t have to put a dent in your wallet. Bodum’s is $25, is small enough for easy storage, and is simple to use. 

If changing your coffee brewing ritual isn’t up for negotiation, consider incorporating reusable coffee filters into your routine. These organic cotton reusable coffee filters from CoffeeSock only require rinsing and hanging to dry between each use. It’s recommended to boil them in water every six to eight weeks to remove any accumulated oils. Comparing what you spend on endless coffee filters, at $13.99 for two, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the change to reusable filters sooner. 

Reusable Silicone Mat

A reusable silicone mat can replace hundreds of pieces of parchment paper and effectively keep your food from sticking to the baking sheet or pan. Stop wasting parchment paper, oil, and aluminum foil for this purpose, and keep that money in your wallet by investing in a silicone mat instead. You can get a three-pack of three different rectangular sizes, including a half-sheet, from AmazonBasics for $12.54. If you’re looking to cover a wider variety of pans, this set of five from KPKitchen comes with two half-sheet mats, one quarter-sheet-size mat, one round cake pan, and one square cake pan for $23.99. 

Beeswax Wrap

Beeswax paper is an excellent food storage alternative to aluminum foil and plastic wrap. It’s a sturdy but malleable solution and can be easily molded around any shape and size of food or container. Beeswax wrap can keep fruits, cheeses, and vegetables fresher for longer. It’s a great practice for getting closer to a plastic-free household and further away from the mess of a cling wrap nightmare. This biodegradable assorted pack of nine sizes from Akeeko Store comes at $19.99. It’s a bang for your buck considering that they’re washable and reusable.

Reusable Straws

Disposable straws aren’t recyclable and, according to the National Park Service, approximately 500 million drinking straws are used daily in the U.S. alone. If you frequently use straws at home or on the go, consider the easy swap of switching to a reusable straw. They’re available in a variety of types, including metal, glass, silicone, and bamboo. This stainless steel set of eight from Yihong Store costs $17.99 and comes with two cleaning brushes. These ALINK wide silicone straws work better for smoothies, milkshakes, and boba, and are only $6.99 for seven. Just think of all the marine animals you’ll save!

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 6 Easy, Budget-Friendly Swaps for a Zero-Waste Kitchen