Easy zero-waste kitchen swaps

Clockwise from top: Cloth Bulk Product bag, Coco Donut Scrubber, Dish Washing Block, Teak/Agave Kitchen Brush, Coconut Bottle Brush, Coconut Cup & Dish Brush, Coconut Kitchen Brush, (under) Mesh Produce Bag, "Unpaper Towels", Beeswax Wraps, Linen Napkin, Bamboo Utensils, Flour Sack Dish Towel.


Do you get frustrated with how much waste you generate? I do. It really takes a conscious effort to be able to refuse plastic bags, disposable cups/plates/utensils/napkins. For the sake of convenience, food safety, and efficiency, we've gone a bit mad. Well, all the items in the picture above are everyday swaps you can make to replace disposables and plastics in your life with reusable and biodegradable ones.

1. Cloth napkins. These are my favorite! I use them for everything from replacing paper napkins to wipe my mouth to wrapping my food as I'm running out the door. I also use them to block spatter in the microwave, then as a pot holder for a hot bowl as I carry it to the table. I'll tell you more in a future post, but needless to say, a pack of cloth napkins that you can use over and over again by throwing it in the washer with the rest of your laundry is a great investment!

2. Travel utensils. Once you get used to bringing these guys with you, you'll feel so good about all the plastic that didn't go to the landfill after being used once. You can pick up a stainless steel set from Goodwill for a buck or two, but I like these bamboo ones because they're light so they don't add weight to my purse.

3.  Cloth and "unpaper" towels. When I was working in an office, I could easily go through ten paper towels a day -- one every time I used the restroom and at least one every time I washed a cup or a dish. Multiply that by the number of people in my office and that's why trash needed to be taken out daily! Hopefully you use cloth towels at home for these tasks, but try taking one to work. Also, I love using "unpaper" towels for spills. Now I just have to teach the kids to do the same.

4. Reusable bags at the grocery store. I think most of us are well-trained to bring reusable bags to bag our groceries because we don't want to pay extra for a bag, but the produce and bulk aisles don't charge for their thin plastic bags, so it might go unnoticed to us that we're actually using them. The cotton and mesh versions of these bags are lighter than carrying around mason jars and they'll save our marine pals from ingesting a plastic film that looks like a jellyfish.

5. Beeswax wraps. I don't know about you, but I hate the fact that there's pretty much no way for me to reuse a piece of aluminum foil or saran wrap. Beeswax wraps come in cute designs and will form to the shape of your avocado, stick to the plate, and cover your bowl. Just about the only activities I'd not recommend them for replacing foil is (1) protecting your brains from alien mind reading and (2) as a protective sheet in the oven.

6. Dish washing block. Why, oh why, does our society liquefy every cleanser?! Liquids cost more to ship and require a plastic container to hold it. The dish washing block is to liquid dish washing detergent as a bar of soap is to shower gel. It cleans well and the packaging can be composted...and it costs less to ship than an equivalent liquid.

7. Cleaning brushes. Brushes don't need to be made of plastic and nylon, yo! When it's time to replace your cleaning brushes, please opt for one that can become part of the earth again. Most of these have a metal core that holds the bristles in place, but if you pull the bristles out, the metal can be recycled and the bristles can rejoin the circle of life. How awesome is that!

It takes a little planning to have our swaps ready to go, but we'll get better at it and it will make a difference, especially if we do it together!

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