The kitchen is a great place to cut unnecessary waste and have a more eco-friendly, non toxic home. From DIY cleaners, to home cooked meals, and ditching the plastic and paper dinnerware, every small change can make a huge difference in your ecological footprint and for the health of your family.
1. Cloth Napkins
Did you know that everyday over 3000 tons of paper towels are thrown away in the US alone. That is a lot of waste. I grew up using paper towels and plastic cups and didn’t think twice about it. I remember the first time I actually bought paper towels and thought, “Wow, these are actually pretty expensive.” Imagine how much you might spend over the course of a year on things you end up just throwing away. Replacing your paper towels with cloth napkins is an easy fix to drastically cutting down the waste in the kitchen, not to mention saving you some cash.
Here is the potential life-cycle of a paper towel:
- Chop down trees
- Transport logs to the saw mill
- Harvest scrap lumber from logs cut into rough boards
- Transport scrap lumber to the paper mill
- Run scrap lumber through the chipper
- Add a bunch of water and chemicals to the wood chips to make wood pulp
- Run the pulp across a bunch of screens to form paper towels
- Bundle the long sheets into rolls of paper towels
- Shrink wrap the rolls of paper towels in plastic
- Transport the paper towels to the warehouse
- Transport the paper towels to the store
- Drive to the store to buy paper towels
- Unwrap the plastic and throw it out or into the recycling bin because you aren’t sure if it can be recycled (it can)
- Use the paper towel once
- Toss the soiled paper towel into the garbage
- Lug your garbage to the curb on garbage day
For a mom who is already doing cloth diaper laundry regularly, I just add them to a little hamper I have under the sink, and call it a day. Plus, cloth napkins are a whole lot cuter than paper towels anyways.
What I use instead:
2. Ditch the plastic
Yes plastic baggies and Saran wrap make packing lunches and preserving convenient but do you really want these items touching your food. Check this out :
“Unfortunately, most [plastic wraps] are now made with low-density polyethylene (LDPE) or polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC). (The exceptions are wraps used in catering and professional kitchens.) LDPE and PVDC don’t adhere as well as plastic wraps made with PVC, but more worrying is the fact that LDPE may contain diethylhexyl adipate (DEHA), another potential endocrine disruptor that has been linked to breast cancer in women and low sperm counts in men.” — Dr. Weil
Pretty scary right? So not only do you choose a healthier and safer option but you also reduce your kitchen waste dramatically.
What I use instead:
I posted the other day on my IG account my raving review on Beeswax wrap. They are reusable and efficient. If you eat avocados or any produce for that matter, nothing beats this wrap. Wrap cheese, half a lemon, a crusty loaf of bread, and fruits and vegetables. They are made with organic cotton, beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin, making them washable, reusable and compostable. #zerowastewin
As far as storage goes I either use bees wrap or glass containers. You would be surprised how many glass containers you already have. They are the pickle jars, marinara sauce, coconut oil, kombuchas, you name it. Next time instead of tossing that empty jar, wash it and see how you can use it for food or drink storage. If you need a glass container “reboot,” this is a great affordable option that is sturdy and BPA free.
3. Buy bulk coffee
I personally love a morning routine filled with the aromas of freshly ground coffee. Its a sensorial experience that’s richer and more satisfying than the plug and play Keurig. The visual experience of seeing the water and coffee interact in that bloom-like way. Though there is more effort and care, the joy of creating something (instead of letting a machine it for you) gets the day started on the right foot by providing a moment of focus, calm, and a job well done.
So what am I saying here?
Ditch the coffee pods.
Keurig alone sold nearly 10 billion packs of pods in 2014. To me that represents, yet another, symbol of the “helpless American.” These companies have seduced us into thinking we need pre-measured and pre-packaged foods specially designed for machines that will do it for us. This “convenience” has helped create our current waste crisis. Yes, some pods can be recycled. Aluminum and some plastic can be recycled; but that doesn’t mean it will.
Let me tell you this, you can measure out coffee grounds and boil some water; and… you might even enjoy it.