Easy Low Waste Kitchen Swaps

Did you know that by 2050 scientists predict that there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish?  

low waste kitchen swaps

That’s just 30 years away!  My children will be adults and possibly raising their own families by then. The thought of passing on a planet that is so full of plastic pollution to my grandchildren is disheartening. 

This is why eliminating plastic from our homes and making low waste kitchen swaps are so necessary.

HEALTH HARM CAUSED BY PLASTIC

We can all agree that plastic waste is bad for our environment, but it is also bad for our own health. 

I recently wrote about how I recycled and threw away a ton of plastic from our kitchen in a recent post, Avoid Plastic in Your Kitchen (Because It’s Harming Your Health).  You can find out how plastic is harming your health and why you should avoid it at all costs by reading that post first. 

In case you don’t have time, I will summarize the key points for you here.  

In the book, Sicker, Fatter, Poorer, the author Leo Trasande discusses how there are chemicals lurking in our homes that are making us sick – especially in plastics and non-stick coatings.  Some of the chemicals include phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), and other bisphenol chemicals. 

If you heat these plastic plates, bowls or containers in the microwave or dishwasher, the chemicals are released and can leach into your food or beverages.  Additionally, if the plastic containers are old and become etched, the chemicals can also be released and you may even find that small micro pieces of plastic mixed in with your food.  

These situations can cause you to be exposed to harmful chemicals that can cause negative health effects on your body, such as an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, endocrine disruption, certain types of cancer, and more.  

If you are interested in learning more and diving deeper into the understanding of these dangers that you pick up the book, Sicker, Fatter, Poorer,  or read the following posts:

Is BPA-Free Plastic Safe?

Avoid Plastic in Your Kitchen (Because It’s Harming Your Health)

Is Teflon Safe to Use?

Want to save time and money finding the zero waste swaps for your family? Download the FREE guide to 9 Zero Waste Swaps Every Family Can Make!

ENVIRONMENTAL HARM CAUSED BY PLASTIC

The problem with plastic in our environment is that it never completely degrades – meaning it never, ever goes away.  

In November 2016, a man walking his dog on a beach in France found an intact yogurt cup from the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.  The photo of the yogurt cup went viral on Twitter and brought awareness to the plastic pollution problem we are currently facing.  

If this yogurt cup could survive for 40 years completely intact, then how many other plastic yogurt containers and other plastic waste still persists in our environment and in our oceans?

Furthermore, even when (and if) that yogurt cup breaks down, it will never fully degrade. Instead, it will break down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. While it may seem to be trivial little pieces of plastic, these microplastics are in fact very harmful to marine life. 

sea turtle eating plastic bag

Many fish, whales, and other marine life have been found to have plastic waste in their stomachs after they die. 

We need to understand that our consumer choices have lasting impacts on wildlife and on our planet. 

LOW WASTE LIFESTYLE JOURNEY

Armed with the knowledge of the harm plastic waste has on your health and on our environment, then you may be thinking one of two things. 

How do I get started on my low waste lifestyle journey?

OR

How do I take the next step in my low waste lifestyle journey?

Let me start by saying we are all on this journey together.  Very few people have achieved a 100% zero waste lifestyle and many of us, including me, have decided to start by aiming for a low waste lifestyle.  

Anne Marie Bonneau, the owner of the Zero Waste Che, reminds us that, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” 

In other words, if everyone took steps towards a low waste lifestyle, our planet and our health would be a lot better off. A few people doing it perfectly, while inspiring, won’t change the fate of our environment. 

Just remember that this is a journey that you are on, and you do not need to feel the pressure to be perfect. Every small step that you take will lead to great changes and a positive impact on our environment. 

With these 6 easy low waste kitchen swaps, even as a busy mother you can reduce your household waste and start (or take the next step) on your low waste journey!

LOW WASTE KITCHEN SWAPS

A lot of single-use plastic waste comes from items you find and use in your kitchen. So it makes a lot of sense to start with making low waste kitchen swaps.  

These are 6 low waste kitchen swaps that I have made during the first 18 months of my low waste lifestyle journey, but remember, I did not make these swaps all at once – and neither do you!

LOW WASTE KITCHEN SWAP #1: Single-Use Water Bottles

low waste kitchen swaps - glass water bottle

Swapping out your single-use water bottle is an easy first step and one you may have already made. Find a glass or stainless steel reusable option that you can fill up throughout the day, especially if you are at home most of the day. 

If you are leaving for appointments, errands or to go to work, fill it up and take with you.  This will prevent you from purchasing a single-use disposable water bottle. Many facilities now have water bottle filling stations or you can use a water fountain to refill as needed.

LOW WASTE KITCHEN SWAP #2: Plastic Storage Bags

I confess that I used to use a lot of plastic sandwich baggies to pack my kids’ lunches and snacks.  I know that it seems so easy to pack snacks in disposable baggies to be able to just toss it away when they are done. However, please remember that plastic sandwich bags and other plastic storage bags are not recyclable. 

Instead swap them out for stainless steel containers, washable fabric snack bags, or silicone storage bags. Here are a few of my favorite options that I have used myself and love.

LOW WASTE KITCHEN SWAP #3: Plastic Wrap

Similar to the plastic storage bags, plastic cling wrap can’t be recycled and it can also leach harmful chemicals into your food. Say goodbye to the plastic wrap problem with this easy but impactful low waste kitchen swap.  Try out one of these easy-to-use alternatives.

Beeswax Wrap

If you need to wrap an avocado or another piece of produce, try the beeswax wrap.  My favorite brand is Bee’s Wrap because they offer a high quality, washable, reusable and compostable beeswax wrap. Plus, they are also a Certified B Corporation

Credit: Bee’s Wrap

Silicone Lids

If you need to cover a bowl of food, a cup of coffee, or even a pan of your favorite casserole, then silicone lids are a great safe and reusable option.  The silicone lids are also perfect for covering your coffee or tea to keep them warm or to cover your bowl to reheat in the microwave. 

My favorite silicone lids are by Norwex and create a tight seal on smooth-rimmed bowls or dishes.  They are also several options on Amazon as well.

LOW WASTE KITCHEN SWAP #4: Plastic Food Containers

You probably are noticing a pattern here. Plastic food storage of any kind should be avoided in favor of safer, non-toxic reusable alternatives.  This means all plastic food storage containers, reusable and disposable, should be replaced.

My suggestions for this would be the same as in low waste kitchen swap #2 for plastic food storage bags.  You will most likely find that using glass storage containers will be the easiest and most similar.  

LOW WASTE KITCHEN SWAP #5: Coffee K-Cups

Plastic coffee K-cups for Keurig machines are probably one of the newer single-use items that people have fallen in love with, and I am no exception to this.  Since my husband doesn’t drink coffee, I thought a one-cup Keurig machine would be the perfect solution. I would no longer need to make a full pot of coffee and waste it.

The Story of Stuff K-Cups comic
Credit: The Story of Stuff Project

Oh, the irony! I was worried about wasting the coffee, but the real problem lies in all the plastic K-cups being thrown away each day. This comic strip captures it perfectly. 

Of course, you can swap out your Keurig machine for a low waste option, but be mindful of what you do with your Keurig machine. Is there somewhere you can donate it, or should you use it until the end of its lifecycle?  

Remember that part of living a low waste lifestyle is being mindful of ALL our waste. Don’t toss your Keurig in favor of something new and “zero waste.” Using what you have is often the least wasteful option. 

Reusable K-cup Filters

The good news is that there are low-waste options available for your Keurig machine.  Reusable stainless steel K-cups are available for you to refill with your own coffee, such as the Fill N Save. 

Tayst Compostable Coffee Pods

Another great option that I recently just tried is the world’s first 100% compostable coffee pod by Tayst.  The pods fit in a typical Keurig machine but the entire pod is plastic-free and compostable.  You can test out their sample pack for only $8! 

LOW WASTE KITCHEN SWAP #6: Paper towels

Our final low waste kitchen swap is the only non-plastic item: paper towels.  While I mainly strive to eliminate and avoid plastic in our kitchen, I also feel like it’s extremely wasteful to use so many paper towels and throw them away each day. 

Did you know that 51,000+ trees are cut down daily for North America’s paper towel habit?

I cut back on using paper towels (and paper napkins) by switching to microfiber cleaning cloths, such as the Norwex EnviroCloth and Counter Cloths. These reusable options are a great way to not only cut waste but also a great chemical-free cleaning option. 

Replace your paper towels with microfiber cloths, old rags, or make your own DIY unpaper towels (or you can buy some towels if you can’t sew like me).

So as you can see, even modern, busy families can reduce the amount of waste they create daily. Little by little, you will make amazing progress and each time you create a new low waste habit, you will feel accomplished and proud of how you are helping to protect the planet and the health of your family.  

What will your first low waste kitchen swap be?  Be sure to tell us in the comments below! If you’ve already made some of these swaps, let us know that too. 

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low waste kitchen swaps

Want to save time and money finding the zero waste swaps for your family? Download the FREE guide to 9 Zero Waste Swaps Every Family Can Make!

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2 Comments

  1. Erica
    January 30 / 10:46 PM

    I bought these towels that are used to clean equipment in hospitals. They create little to no lint and wick moisture very well. I have used them as a substitute for paper towels. We still buy them, but we’ve reduced our intake substantially and that makes me feel better about my carbon footprint. I really need to invest in those silicone bags!

    • Rebekah
      January 31 / 7:41 AM

      That’s awesome, Erica! Thanks for sharing your win and helpful, eco-friendly tip!

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