For years we have been hearing and watching all the news about the negative impact humanity has on the environment, whether it is because of the destruction of natural areas and reducing the living space for wildlife or the massive amount of trash on the landfills and oceans.
Sometimes you might wonder if by doing any chance as just one person, there might be any impact on the terrible damage being done or if there's any hope when some governments don't seem to care. Still, I'm the type of person who believes that even the slightest change contributes to make the world a better place.
I'm not an utterly zero-waste person; although I often dream about being one, I want to share ten easy zero-waste swaps to get you started without breaking a sweat or feeling the pressure.
Do you want to check more money-saving items, here are 130 purchases that save money over time.
Twenty easy zero-waste kitchen swaps
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1) French press
For some reason, minimalists love coffee, I indeed do, but coffee can be a pretty wasteful habit, especially now with the set-ups that include single-use k-cups and filters.
Get yourself a beautiful stainless steel french press to make some delicious and fragrant coffee at home; you don't even need to pay for filters using a french press.
Don't forget to pour some coffee when going out on a reusable travel coffee mug; this way, you also save some cash by not buying coffee outside.
2) Reusable K-cups
If you already have an expensive Keurig machine that you're not willing to part ways with, it's not a problem; you can still use it. The key is swapping single-use K-cups for reusable cups made of food-grade stainless steel.
It's a win-win scenario, you reduce your daily waste, and now you can even use the Keurig machine to make coffee that doesn't come in regular K-cups!
3) Meal containers
Most people don't even meal prep; for those on a tighter budget, eating out frequently adds up quickly and can turn into a massive money drain.
Not only do you spend a considerable portion of your monthly income on eating out, but it's not necessarily the healthiest option, as you don't get to control the ingredients used to create each meal.
Dedicating at least some hours of one day to meal-prepping can be life-changing, and it doesn't even have to be exhausting or complicated. Something as simple as boiled white rice with a stir fry is delicious and super cheap.
When it comes to serving each meal, some people like using plastic containers, some are single-use, others can be washed. I recommend using either glass containers or stainless steel containers, as they will last indefinitely and don't stain or retain food odors as plastic does.
4) Reusable paper towel
The ones made of bamboo won't last forever, but they are washable and can replace up to six months of regular paper towels, while cotton paper towels can last for years (they might get some stains overtime but nothing to be scared of).
Whatever kind you pick, doing this simple swap will reduce your paper waste. I personally still buy a regular paper towel for those nasty or greasy messes that you don't want to deal with any further. Even with the swap, a standard paper towel pack should last you a lot longer.
5) Reusable bags
Single-use plastic bags are a massive issue to our oceans; scientists estimate that every square mile of the ocean holds up to 46k pieces of plastic, killing many sea species along the way who might confuse the plastic with food.
Then there's a more significant issue that directly affects us, the creation of microplastic. The decomposition of plastic in the ocean creates microplastic, tiny particles that are eaten by fish, who then are harvested and sold to us; we are eating plastic without even realizing it.
Luckily many countries are taking action about plastic bags to reduce their production and use; instead, buy reusable shopping bags. I recommend searching for sturdy bags that are easy to clean.
Creative Green Life sells heavy-duty bags which are square-shaped to hold your products securely, reducing the risk of accidental spills; and sturdy triple-layered construction to make it easy to load and unload your groceries.
6) Water bottle
You see the pattern we are going here? Reducing mostly plastic as much as we possibly can, regular plastic bottles, along with plastic bags, create ridiculous amounts of non-recyclable waste.
The U.S. alone requires 17 million barrels of oil to manufacture single-use plastic bottles, and the recycling rate is only 23%, remember that plastic is hard to recycle, unlike other materials.
I can't even remember when was the last time I bought a beverage on a single-use plastic bottle since I like carrying around my reusable bottle.
You can purchase reusable bottles made of plastic, glass, or stainless steel; out of the three, I recommend either glass or stainless steel. Plastic tends to become gross-looking after a while, and we want to reduce waste as much as possible.
Stainless steel bottles can found in different sizes; this one by IronFlask starts at 14 ounces and up to 64 ounces; they include three different lids and two reusable straws.
7) Water filter
Now that you have your reusable water bottle, it is time to fill it up since the idea is not to waste money on bottled liquid.
You should get a water filter; the simplest solution is getting a pitcher with a replaceable filter or a water filtration system like Pur, which is easy to attach and compatible with most faucets. Either way, you will be able to reduce contaminants, including mercury and pesticides.
8) Cutlery set
Plastic cutlery is another big waste creator, about six million in the U.S. alone; as I mentioned early, it is better to create your meals and save money. If you plan to start that lifestyle change, you will need reusable cutlery set with a cotton napkin.
Even if you don't plan to bring a homemade meal with you, it is a good idea always to have a cutlery set with you, in case you eat out at a fast-food spot; for example, you can opt-out of plastic cutlery.
You don't even need to buy a specific set, as you probably have cutlery at your home to take with you, but if you want something specific to use outside, you can buy stainless steel cutlery set with a carrying case to keep everything tidy.
9) Jars for bulk items
Because of the pandemic, not all stores carry bulk sections as they did before, but once this issue passes, it's a great idea to buy glass jars to buy in bulk.
10) Compostable dish sponge
Most dish sponges you find at supermarkets are made of plastic. With use, they release microplastic, instead choose natural fiber sponges; you can buy cotton, vegetable scrubbers, hand-knitted or biodegradable sponges.
11) Silicone food bags
Plastic food bags are meant to be used once and go to the trash; we want to reduce single-use plastic waste. A better option for the environment and your wallet are silicone food storage bags.
Stasher bags are made of food-grade silicone, suitable for cooking, freezing, storing, and even sous vide; its dishwasher safe and leakproof.
12) Reusable straws
13) Silicone ice trays
Stop buying bagged iced (you're paying a premium price for frozen water) and also say goodbye to the hard plastic ice cube trays that are so hard to unmold.
The better option is silicone food-grade ice cube trays, they are easy to clean and unmold, plus they come in some fun shapes, like large squares, balls for whisky, or even skulls; you can check out all the crazy models here.
14) Reusable tea filter
An extra benefit is loose leaf tea is generally fresher than regular bagged tea; a crowd favorite is the Indian brand Vahdam sold on Amazon; they are an ethical and fair-trade brand that is carbon and plastic neutral.
15) Compostable bottle brush
Like the dish sponges, there are some great compostable options for bottle brushes; you can compost the brittles and handle and toss the metal part into the recycling bin when the brush has completed its utility life.
16) Refillable cleaning bottle
You have probably seen these bottles on most YouTuber's videos; these popular glass bottles are perfect for home cleaning; to create homemade natural cleaning solutions, you can buy see-through glass bottles or amber glass bottles to protect the product from oxidation.
As a safety measure, I recommend buying a glass bottle with a silicone sleeve, and this stops the bottle from slipping and protects it better from falls.
17) Recyclable dish soap
Average dish soap comes in plastic bottles, which can be reused but realistically, how many of those plastic bottles can use repurpose around the house? There will be a point where you will have to start tossing them out.
Eliminate the potential waste by purchasing a dish soap in recyclable containers; CleanCult is packaged in milk-based paper cartons; you can refill your dish soap dispenser or use it directly from the box.
18) Compostable trash bags
Some zero waste people don't even purchase trash bags; they use whatever bag they have until it's complete; this might not be easy for larger families.
Luckily there are eco-friendly options for trash disposal. Unni trash bags, for example, are certified compostable bags in both the U.S.A. and Europe. They are non-toxic and 100% compostable.
Because of that, you have to store them in a cool place and only buy as much as you can use for up to nine months.
19) Plastic wrap & parchment paper replacements
To reduce your waste and some money along the way, I present you these two options; the first one is bee wax wrap to replace plastic wrap; made of cotton, bee wax, jojoba oil, and tree resin, it can hold up to a year, and once it's done, you can compost it.
For parchment paper and aluminum foil eco-friendly substitutes, you can get a silicone mat. Silpat offers better protection, it's easy to clean, and will last indefinitely.
20) Vitamix Foodcycler Composter
Becoming zero-waste implies reducing food waste to a minimum; after all, food waste in the U.S. alone equals over 81 million pounds.
Reducing food waste is crucial, but there will always be leftover scraps that can't be reused; for those scraps, the best option is composting, using your plants or backyard.
Some people like using small stainless-steel compost bins for indoor use; don't worry about smell because they include carbon filters.
If there are no compost facilities near where you live, you can still save all those scraps using a Vitamix Foodcycler; this composter reduces waste by 90%, it can compost even bones, perfect to turn your leftovers into rich fertilizer for your plants.
It can fit anywhere in your kitchen, as the compact square appliance only measures one cubic foot, and don't worry about foul odors because the lid includes a carbon filter to store scraps until the 64 ounces bucket is full.
A zero-waste lifestyle swap is not easy, especially when we assume that waste is regular and expected. Even though becoming a zero-waste person is complex and not a realistic lifestyle for everyone, swapping some items is an easy and hassle-free way to contribute to this global problem.
What are some zero-waste swaps you apply in your kitchen? Share your knowledge in the comment section below.
I hope these simple swaps help you reduce your waste in the kitchen and save money each month.
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