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All Things Home,  Zero Waste

10 Simple Swaps For A Zero Waste Kitchen

Modified on May 3, 2019

Are you trying to create less waste in your home or use less plastic? Have you found it overwhelming at times, thinking about all the things that you want to switch out? Well today I’ll show you 10 simple swaps for a zero waste kitchen. Less worry and less waste!

I read an article the other day that said there is an island of trash floating in the ocean. That made me so sad and I want to do more to change this, to create a better future for all of us!

Over time, I’ve been slowly swapping out items in my kitchen to reduce the amount of things that we throw away. If you’ve been thinking about this too, you quickly realize that plastic is everywhere! From our food packaging, to storage, grocery bags…ugh. And it’s not just the plastic, but the paper products too. Have you thought about how many times a day you use a paper plate or cup?

These are some of the things I was presented with and the reality can feel overwhelming. It’s hard to change what we’re used to. With that, I will say my home or kitchen is not completely zero waste, but I am taking the steps to get there. Even the small steps count for so much.

So to help you feel less overwhelmed, here are 10 simple swaps to help you on the road to zero waste and less plastic use.

1. Napkins

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My husband, Eric and I used to run out of paper towels all the time…ALL THE TIME. It was so annoying. I don’t know why it was one of those items we always forgot to buy at the store. But I do believe it was for a reason, because 2 years ago we made the switch to cloth napkins and haven’t looked back since! We like to live life on the edge :).

At first, Eric was a little hesitant but he has grown to love them and I do too. Now we don’t have to worry if we’ve run out or not. And don’t have to do a rock-paper-scissor battle to see whose going to the store for napkins. Plus there’s no waste created… I love it.

There are different varieties of cloth napkins out there which is really nice. The ones I have are actually huck towels.

I like them because they are thick and absorbent. And as you can see they are quite big. You can purchase them on Amazon. They come in a pack of 12 for about $22 and in various colors. I love the color we have but I will say they stain a little easy. So if you have kids you may want to opt for a darker color, just so you’re not having to use stain remover each time you wash them.

Once we’re done with the napkin, we simply toss it in a bin that I keep under the sink.

I know, I know it’s plastic. But I already had it and didn’t want to have to buy another basket just for this purpose. So I’ll use it as long as I can.

2. Plates

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Paper plates were one of the first items we stopped purchasing. Every time I would throw one away, the paper plate would go down in the trash and my guilt would go up. Who knew this could cause such anxiety.

So, to help me clear my conscious we bought these beautiful plates from Crate and Barrel. But I did it with a few tricks.

Plates can be a bit pricey, especially the good ones. So what we did was purchase a couple at a time. Also, I’m signed up for Crate and Barrel’s sales in my email so when I would get a notification of a sale I would check the dinnerware. I know it seems like a few extra steps to take but it can be helpful especially if you’re on a budget.

They don’t have all the same colors but you can still buy these plates here. And if you want to be patient you can wait for a sale, they have really good ones throughout the year.

3. Straws

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Oh the dreaded straw. I personally love to use straws so it’s been important for me to stop using the plastic ones. These ones I purchased at Whole Foods for about $15. I know that seems a bit much for a couple of straws but I believe it’s worth the benefits in the end.

We used to have glass straws but I would get nervous every time they would clink against our glass cups. It just made me nervous that they would break so I changed them out for these ones.

4. Cups

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I am happy to say that we’ve always had glass cups. We used to have a few plastic ones but donated them a few years back. I was so excited when I found these ones last summer at HomeGoods.

They’re actually recycled glass! And if you look closely you can see that they aren’t made equally but that’s what I love about them. I think it gives them character.

They didn’t come as a set. The small cups were about $2 and I think the taller ones were $4 each. Just a tip, if you shop at HomeGoods you probably already know this, but if not…grab it when you see it! Things literally fly off the shelves here.

I made the mistake of only buying 2 of the taller cups and when I went back they were gone. I was super bummed but really determined to find them, I mean really determined. Poor Eric and I drove across town calling different stores to see if they had them in stock and luckily we found them.

So take it from me, buy it when you see it so you don’t have to make trips across town.

We also have these cups that I found at the Dollar Store. It was a few years ago but they might still carry them.

I like these because you can put a top on and take them to go. We use them for smoothies and juices, and they’re just as good for other drinks too.

When I found them I bought about 8 because I didn’t know if I would find them again. So I also use them to store food in the panty.

5. Food Storage (Pantry & Fridge)

I also have larger jars for my bulk foods.

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Somehow I ended up with different jars that’s why they have different tops. I didn’t notice this right away, but I still like how they look. When I switched to glass storage it made such a difference in my pantry organization. I was like whoooa this is awesome! It would drive me crazy when I’d find a bag of rice that got stuffed in the corner of the pantry, or we’d have beans that some how ended up on every shelf. Such pantry drama. Now I can say my pantry’s drama free – for the most part.

Another place I like to use glass jars for storage is in the fridge.

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You can buy jars like these at Target, that’s also where I got the white tops from. It’s better to use these types of lids in the fridge because the other ones will get rusty over time.

As far as daily food storage goes, we use a Pyrex set that we received one year for Christmas. It’s been one of the best gifts ever! We’ve gotten so much use out of them.

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We use them for everything, from storing leftovers to lunch.

I wasn’t able to find this exact set, but Target sells something similar for $39.

Since I’m obsessed with Pyrex, we bought a set of bowls that also get used for food storage. You can purchase a similar set on Amazon. They aren’t exactly the same but still come with a lid.

I do keep a few plastic items for freezer storage. I’m not 100% confident in freezing glass so we use these for now.

10 Simple Swaps For A Zero Waste Kitchen – Trade This For That

I think it’s safe to say we’re covered in the food storage area.

6. Sandwich/ Snack Bags

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I do my absolute best not to buy plastic storage bags. That’s why we have so much glass storage. But sometimes we just like to stick a sandwich in a bag and go. So I was really excited when I came across these bags on Amazon.

There were 3 of them but Somebody lost one, we won’t mention any names…I’ll just say it wasn’t me. So they do come 3 for $15.

They’re also great for small snack items.

I’ve put them in the washer a few times and they’ve held up really well. It says they’re also dishwasher safe but I haven’t tried that yet.

So another simple swap for the win!

7. Grocery Bags

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I bought these bags at IKEA for only $1. Whoo hoo discounts are the best! If you shop at IKEA don’t forget to sign up for IKEA FAMILY. It’s free and that’s how you can get discounts like this one.

Otherwise they’re $2 and you can find them here.

I like these bags because you can fold them up like so.

This makes it easy to keep in the car or store in your purse. An added bonus is that you can wash them too. I wash them and then hang dry them.

The other reusable grocery bag that we have is this one that we bought from Trader Joe’s.

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I like that it’s a sturdy burlap material.

Throughout the week we put our recycle in here, then when I take a trip to the store, I simply empty it and use it as a grocery bag. 2-for-1 who knew!

Now we are all human and there will be times we’ll forget our bags. We still end up with some grocery bags, so I’ll save them and take them to Sprouts where they have a bin to recycle plastic grocery bags. They might have this at other stores too, you can probably call or look it up online.

8. Produce and Bulk Food Bags

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These were the very first produce bags I purchased. I found them at Target for $5. If you haven’t noticed already, yes Target is my favorite store and yes it’s like my second home. Ok moving on…

I love that the bags come in different sizes. The small one is perfect for things like tomatoes.

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I bought this second set from Amazon for $26, because I needed reusable bags for my bulk foods and more produce bags.

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I shop in the bulk section a lot because it’s cheaper and there’s no plastic packaging.

10 Simple Swaps For A Zero Waste Kitchen | abrikliving.com

These bags have worked perfectly and I love the material.

10 Simple Swaps For A Zero Waste Kitchen | abrikliving.com

Both sets of bags work really well. I think it is just a matter of budget and preference. Either way, which ever ones you choose, it’s not plastic and that will always be the better choice.

The last 2 items on the list don’t necessarily generate daily waste, however they go with our efforts to use less plastic.

9. Drink Pitchers

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First, I have to be honest and say I have broken a few glass pitchers in my day. I’m just clumsy, I’ve accepted it. So we’ve gone through a couple of these but I refuse to go back to plastic.

I was so sad one of my favorite pitchers broke because I impatiently poured hot tea into it. Not my finest moment. But I did learn that it’s best to buy a pitcher with thicker glass.

The ones above we keep water in, one in the fridge and one on the counter because I’m just extra like that.

And these ones we use for tea and juice.

Sometimes on the weekend we’ll make fresh orange or pineapple juice with breakfast, yum!

I probably don’t have to tell you, but I bought all of these at Target hehe.

And last but not least, small cooking and baking items.

10. Cooking and Baking Utensils

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I swapped out my baking utensils when my old plastic ones were falling apart. These measuring cups were a great price and I like how sturdy they are. You can find them here.

As for the measuring spoons, they were a recommendation from the YouTube channel More Melody. She gives great tips on minimalism and organization.

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The spoons you can find on Amazon for about $15. I think they are one of the greatest inventions ever made!

There’s a little magnet on the back of each spoon, this way you don’t have to fuss with a little ring to get each spoon out. And don’t have to worry about losing them either.

The bottom of each spoon is also flat so it doesn’t tip over when you place it on the counter. There’s a skinnier side so you can fit the spoon right into the spice jar. Genius right?!

These have made life in the kitchen a lot easier. So I’m thankful to Melody for recommending them.

For cooking, I’ve got some bamboo spoons.

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But I do have a few plastic items that I’ve kept because I use them all the time.

My favorite cooking utensils are this set that I found on Amazon. The material is bamboo and silicone, so cool. I love how they look in my kitchen.

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10 Simple Swaps For A Zero Waste Kitchen – Trade This For That

One Item At A Time

So there we have it, 10 Simple Swaps for you kitchen. Now I know there are quite a few items on this list and the last thing I want you to feel is overwhelmed. Just think of this as a checklist or guide to help get you started in swapping things out in your kitchen. Like I mentioned before everything I’ve purchased happened over time.

Just take it one item at a time. The thing is that you’re trying and that’s what matters most. And of course if you have any questions about anything I listed here, feel free to ask me.

Do you have any other zero waste food storage ideas? Have you swapped out any of these items already? Let’s start a conversation about it below.

Happy swapping!

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