While social media and some companies would have you believe that a zero waste kitchen would involve buying all new items and chucking out all your old stuff – here at Society Zero CIC, we beg to differ.

The reason being that if you’re throwing out perfectly good storage containers, bowls and brushes then you’re wasting the resources used to make them and adding to landfill waste.

Only replace when needed.

Now while this may not seem like a good ‘business move’ for us – we are only ever going to be honest with you and advise where we can. 

When you need to replace those items or are just starting out on your own though, we’ve got your back. We can provide you with eco-friendly (and fair trade) items and kits to replace your broken-beyond-repair/past it’s day items.

If you are replacing items then have a think at how you can reuse your old items – I’m using tupperware tubs without lids or broken lids, to grow herbs in for example.

We recently covered this in our #tidysocietyproject challenge with The Tidy Life Project on Instagram in week one, talking about everything kitchen wise. Check out our Instagram highlights for more and to keep up to date with the challenge this February. 

So what can you change up when you need to? Or what should you be setting up your home with to have as little an impact on waste as possible?

Storage Containers

So we’ve all heard, seen and probably used tupperware. If this works for you and is still working properly then great!

Some problems you may have though with them is breakage, melting, possible toxicity risks and can leak chemicals into your food BUT if they work for you and you’ve never had a problem with them then keep using them until they’re no good anymore if you feel that’s right for you.

What do you swap to if it’s no good for you anymore though? Or the clips and sealing in your containers aren’t up to scratch anymore? – Invest in stainless steel airtight containers.

Stainless steel is 100% recyclable, as it is not coated with any toxic material it does not produce toxic run-off into your food either. Even if stainless steel is not recycled and ends up in landfill it will have no detrimental effect to the site. Plus, it’s so easy to clean and keep hygienic – there’s a reason medical and food professionals use it.

Stainless steel boxes are perfect for wet/sauced lunchboxes or even to keep bread fresh for your sandwiches and rest of your packed lunch.

Wrapping up your food

Single use plastics are bad – we all know this by now. This also includes cling film! It’s difficult to wash too or do much after using it once so it really is single use. Also the complexity of the plastic makes it extremely difficult to recycle too.

What can you use instead? Wax wraps! Beeswax, vegan wax wraps or cotton bowl covers are brilliant alternatives to reduce your landfill production – as soon as you’re done, wash them gently in cold water with soap and hang to dry to use again. They’re so easy to use and come in some funky designs too.

Wraps are great for wrapping up bread to make sure it doesn’t go stale, so perfect for your sandwiches or half eaten loaf or baguette (how is this even possible? – it never lasts long here). Wrap up your food in your wraps and you’ll have a fresh lunch to go. We’ve got a handy tutorial here on how to turn your wax wraps into a pouch.

Bagging up your food

If you’re not wanting to let your food roam free around your basket or trolley at the shops and use the plastic or paper bags available – what you can switch to is reusable cotton produce bags!

While paper bags are becoming popular again (and we do offer them as an option at our stalls for those really not wanting to buy a produce bag), if you’re prepared, there’s no need for chopping up trees to make a paper bag or having to add to your recycling bin. Also definitely no need for using more plastic bags.

The produce bags are also breathable and can help keep your produce and food as fresh as possible – for example any greens you’ve got, dampen the bag and store the greens in your fridge to keep them fresh for longer. Even some bread bags double up as a basket too!

Stop using Kitchen Roll

Again as victim and slave to convenience – kitchen roll is a huge culprit of waste contribution. It’s non-recyclable and is really not needed at all when you can swap to cloths that can soak and wipe up spillages, and it’s so easy to put the cloth in the washing pile to be used again. More importantly, it will no doubt save you money and extra trips to the bin in the long run.

If you need larger than the size of your cloths – use old stained tea towels and sheets or old holey t-shirts, towels and clothes as rags to mop up instead. You can even use these as your cloths if you want to.

Doing the dishes

Plastic scrub brushes and sponges – once they’ve lived their life, there’s no recycling of them (true to time of this publication). So what can we use instead?

Use a natural dish brush with replaceable and compostable heads. this way you don’t need to worry about doing the dishes and the impact you’re having – just who is going to do them.

The other things to consider when thinking about eco-friendly dish washing? What you’re washing with other than your brushes and sponges.

Yes, the big brands have great perfume smells but is that healthy for us considering we eat from these dishes? – Our answer to this challenge, refill your washing liquid bottle where you can with an environmentally friendly liquid OR make your own!

There are so many simple swaps

Reducing waste in the kitchen doesn’t need to be a nightmare and you can easily make simple swaps to reduce what goes to landfill or worse, ends up in the countryside or oceans.

Reducing food waste is another big point I want to make here too as this is another, yet massive contributor to waste from the kitchen. Have a read of our zero waste food series on how to reduce your waste when it comes to food.

Be sure to also check out our zero waste cleaning guide to keep your kitchen as clean as a whistle while still reducing waste.

Have you reduced your kitchen waste? Tag us in your photos! @societyzero_cic #societyzero

Zero Waste shop in Glasgow