Zero Waste Home - Kitchen

I told you guys last week about how I am inspired by the Zero Waste Home. Many may say that the way this family lives is impractical. I would disagree. While it is certainly not possible for all of us to live this way based on our different situations, locations, and finances, they certainly do not do anything that is really "out there" or impossible. Even if we do not go to this extreme, there are several habits that we can adopt. On their blog they address 8 areas of the home that we can lower our waste in. I am going to address the tips given about the kitchen today. I will share my thoughts on these suggestions and how I (and we!) can better implement them or on the struggles of doing so. I have copied and pasted the following from the blog and will add my thoughts in italics.

1- Welcome alternatives to disposables (paper towels, garbage liners, wax paper, aluminum sheets, disposable plates, cups, etc....): swap paper towels for reusable rags, swap sandwich baggies for kitchen towels or stainless containers, drop garbage liners all together (wet waste is mostly compostable anyways).

This is mostly nothing new to me. I have addressed these tips in my Getting Started page. I do use garbage liners though because my waste is not low enough to not have to use them! Maybe one day...

2- Buy in bulk or at the counter (see Zero Waste Grocery Shopping), bring reusable bags (dry goods), jars (wet items such as meat, deli, fish, cheese, oil, peanut butter) and bottles (liquids: oil, soy sauce, shampoo, conditioner).

I bring my own shopping bags to the store but have only thought about bringing my own bag for when I buy bulk items. There are three reasons I have not done this: 1) I simply don't remember to 2) I am too shy/embarrassed to ask about my store's policy on this and have my bag tared and 3) I do not shop the bulk bins very often as I buy in actual bulk where my food items are already prepackaged. I have honestly never even thought about bringing my own jar/bottle for wet/liquid items. This step would take more work on your part as you would have to find out each store's policy on this (there are health guidelines they have to follow) and not be able to grab and go with the items you need. 

While I believe that the payoff for this is great, right now in my life this is just not an option in most things for me. While I will be (if I can can the courage!) asking about bringing my own jar for weighing when I buy meat at the counter, I am going to start getting my meat from the source where it is already packaged from the processor. For cheese this is one place where I have to take into consideration my budget constraints and buy already packaged. The same goes for peanut butter. As for oil I am particular about buying quality oil and do not use your typical vegetable oils. 

I know these sound like a lot of excuses but we all have to make choices that work with our situations and I am being honest. I am going to make a note about checking the prices on several bulk bin items at the store next time I am there to see if I can start implementing this more, though.

3- At default of bulk, find a supplier (bring your jar to the ice cream shop, a pillow case to the bakery for your bread, or your bottles to the winery/brewery)... or make it ( mustard, salad dressing, hot sauce, jams, OJ, hummus, cookies, canned tomatoes).

You already know that I am a fan of from-scratch cooking for the majority of foods. I am not big on making my own condiments (though I am trying to like homemade salad dressings!) but am determined to make all my own jams this summer to get us through the year and to can lots of tomatoes. 

4- Shop the farmer's market: they'll take the egg carton and the berries baskets back for reuse. Your veggies will also most likely be free of plastic and stickers.

I love shopping the farmer's market when I can get there. I am going to check into what vendors reuse containers. Though for now I buy my eggs from the store (a price compromise!). But I will be getting eggs from a friend every so often now and will be bringing her the cartons! I am also planning on reusing containers from last year when I go berry picking this summer. Even if you do not already have berry containers, most U-pick places will still let you bring your own container (check with them first though!) as that saves them money. 

5- Learn to love your tap water.

I do not love my tap water. I am sorry, it is nasty. So I use a Brita filter with glasses when we are home and reusable stainless steel bottles when we are out. Filters also serve the purpose of cleaning out some of the not so desirable things that are in water. I may throw out a filter every couple months but it is that or bottled water!

6- Use bulk castile soap as a dish/hand cleaner, baking soda as a scrubber (in a stainless Parmesan dispenser) with a compostable cleaning brush (a wooden one with natural hair). Choose dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box.

I have sung the praises of castile soap before as well as homemade cleaners

7- Turn your trash can into a big compost keeper. Use your tiny compost keeper as a trash can (on the market, the sizes for these seem to be reversed).

This is one tip that I really want to implement soon! While I do not think I am quite "there" yet enough to not have my big (actually only medium size) trash can, I really want to work on producing less waste so that we could eventually use a bathroom size trashcan in the kitchen. I need to also start using the same size as my trash can as my compost bin to encourage me to use it more often (I will admit I am a slacker in that area at times). My plan for now is to have the two trash cans next to each other (with space in between so as to not confuse the kid!) under the sink so I do not have an excuse not to use the compost bin. While I do compost, I will admit that a lot of my trash can waste is scraps that could be composted.

8- Reinvent your leftovers before they go bad. Go thru your recipe binder/box and only keep the recipes that can be achieved with zero waste in mind.

Oh how I love leftovers!

9- Invest in a pressure cooker (halves the cooking time).

I do have a pressure cooker and have used it in the past. But this is one kitchen gadget that does not really fit in with the Weston A. Price line of thinking when it comes to food because it cooks food too quickly. And though I do not follow it 100%, I do like to follow many of the basic guidelines. 

10- YOU CAN ALSO... Reuse single-side printed paper for grocery shopping and errands list, use your lettuce cleaning water to water plants, open your oven after baking in the winter (cool your oven, warm your house)...

Reusing paper is self explanatory and something I try to do. I do not have house plants - I kill them - but that is a great suggestion. I also love baking in the winter because it helps to heat the house. On that note, I also try to combine my oven usage in the summer so I am not heating the house so much!

Those are all the suggestions for the kitchen. Other than maybe the grocery shopping tips, there is nothing too radical! These are all tips that we can try to implement in some small way in our daily lives!


  1. I love these tips & wish I could/would use more around here. Have you looked into using a sink or whole house filter in place of the brita? We're fans of the aquasana brand (only sink & shower for now) as they are pretty good at their job, only need to be replaced every 6 months, & they auto-ship.

  2. I would love to get a sink or house filter but for now the price is the only thing holding me back. :(

  3. These are great tips, Mari. I think you and I are on the same page with lots of these, and I agree wholeheartedly with your theory that even if you can't do it all you can do something! :)
    Do you freeze tomatoes? It's an awesome way to handle a surplus when you don't have the time, or energy, to deal with peeling, canning, etc. :)

  4. You can freeze tomatoes? Tell me more! I am growing (well, attempting to grow) tomatoes this year so I hopefully not have to buy anymore cans this year (or pay for them haha) and it would be great to freeze some.



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