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12 Tips to Reduce Plastic Waste in Your Kitchen

Updated: Mar 20


Plastic-free kitchen accessories
Photo: Photos by Kali

In today's world, where sustainability and environmental consciousness are at the forefront of our minds, there's no better place to start making a difference than right in your own kitchen. Plastic pollution has become a global crisis, and much of it lies within our very own homes. In fact, the average American family of four uses 748.8 pounds of plastic waste a year [1].That’s 14.4 pounds in one week just in plastic!


If you are a parent with little ones at home, you likely have very little free time to research the harmful impacts that plastic has on our lives, so I’ll get right to the point. Plastic is a man-made material known as a petrochemical. Petrochemicals are made from petroleum [2] (AKA crude oil) and natural gas, which are then refined using a variety of chemical processes. To create plastic, refineries must burn petroleum and other gasses that cause polluting emissions like carbon dioxide. Because plastic is not a natural element, it will break down into microplastics that never biodegrade and will continue to pollute the earth through air and water. I know – it sounds awful, right? But fear not, for there is a multitude of creative and practical ways to curb the plastic invasion in your kitchen. In this blog, we will uncover 12 ways that can help you make a significant dent in your plastic waste while still enjoying the convenience and functionality you crave.


12 Tips to Reduce Plastic Waste

1. Choose alternative packaging. Look for foods packaged in glass, paper, or reusable containers instead. This is what was used before plastic, so I know we can make it can work again.


2. Shop your local farmers markets. The biggest benefits here are cost savings and farm-fresh produce. This is also a great opportunity to speak with expert farmers to get tips on the best way to store (or grow) your produce.


3. Buy more fresh fruit and vegetables. This may seem like a no-brainer, but many of us don’t get the nutrients we need from fruits and vegetables simply because they are not in our refrigerators cut up and ready to eat. Fruits and veggies are a great snack to have on-hand for those “I’m hungry” moments right before dinner time.


4. Buy from bulk bins. My favorites for kids are dried fruit, granola, trail mix, mixed nuts, and yogurt-covered pretzels. Don’t forget to bring a produce bag so you don’t have to buy one there!


5. Cook at home. This reduces the need for processed foods that typically come in plastic packaging. With grocery prices surging, this will almost always be the more affordable (and healthier) option for your family.


6. Utilize the deli & bakery. This fresh-food option significantly cuts back on plastic and, in some cases, is cheaper too. If you are up for it, many stores will allow you to bring in your own container, just ask ahead of time to be sure.


7. Store food with Bee’s Wrap. If you haven’t tried this product, it is my favorite replacement for plastic wrap when storing food. It is reusable and can last up to a year if properly cared for and can be composted once it reaches the end of it's useful life.


8. Plastic-free sandwich and snack bags. When you have kids, leaving the house without 2-3 snacks is not an option. Having kids with full stomachs is our best chance at getting through an errand without any tears. But snacks without single-use wrappers aren't always an option at our stores. This is why I was so excited when Bee’s Wrap launched a snack bags, a huge win in my book. They come in two packs – snack size and sandwich size – making it easy to pack any snack or lunch item. I prefer these over silicone bags options as silicone ones are made from synthetic materials. If you already have silicone products, don't worry, these are still a much better option than single-use plastic bags.


9. Choose reusable grocery bags. Swapping single-use plastic bags for reusable ones is easy to do as many clothing retailers offer reusable bags, so hang on to them. This is a great place to start if you have never tried cutting out plastic before. I like to keep reusable bags in my car trunk, or I will likely forget as I am running out the door with 7 things in my hand already. If you do forget them, ask for paper bags, although this option isn’t always available. Avoiding bags is an even better option – you can check out and just put everything directly back in the cart. In this case, I find it helpful to keep a large bin in the trunk to move your groceries into for the ride back home. This makes unloading a breeze with less trips back and forth from the car.


10. Try reusable produce bags. Plastic produce bags were one of the first things I cut out – firstly, because they are such a pain to open, and secondly, I found individually bagging items in plastic to be a complete waste. Instead, opt for a reusable produce bag. At first, I placed my produce products directly on the shopping cart, but keeping them in a reusable bag can protect them from picking up any bacteria that may live on the cart or checkout counter. Getting an organic cotton bag is a great solution to avoid contamination and plastic waste alike. These bags also work great for storing food in your fridge.


11. Invest in reusable travel utensils. You can easily avoid using disposable plastic utensils by carrying a reusable travel kit in your bag. I recommend keeping this kit in your bag or car so you have them handy whenever you need them (I use these way more than I ever thought). Utensils from home are also a great option, but I prefer these as they are very light weight and convenient.


12. Choose a reusable water bottle. Plastic cups and bottles are the easiest item to cut out if you have 1 or 2 reusable options on hand and ready for the day. I do recommend a double insulated stainless-steel option as these will keep drinks colder for longer. Pairs perfectly with an eco-friendly bottle brush for cleaning.


Each of these 12 tips offer a unique and effective approach to reducing plastic waste in your kitchen. Whether it's switching to reusable containers, choosing sustainable kitchen tools, or adopting new eco-friendly practices, the cumulative impact of these changes is far-reaching. By taking these actions, you're not just reducing the plastic footprint of your household; you're setting an example for a more sustainable way of life. But the journey doesn't end here. It's important to remember that transitioning to a low-plastic kitchen is a continuous process, and the commitment to sustainability is ongoing. So, let's embark on this journey together, embracing these strategies and exploring even more ways to reduce our plastic consumption. By doing so, we can all play a vital role in preserving our environment for generations to come.

Visit PLASTIC DETOX to find loads of plastic alternatives to help you along your low waste journey.

 

References


[1] Michiel Roscam Abbing. (2019). Plastic Soup: An Atlas of Ocean Pollution. Island Press.

[2] Petrochemicals. (2011). Handbook of Industrial Hydrocarbon Processes, Ch 12. Pg. 429–466. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-7506-8632-7.10012-X

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