Before I began my journey towards a zero-waste lifestyle, I used a massive amount of single-use, disposable items in the kitchen–soap, a dishwashing brush, plastic bags, plastic wrap, and more–essentials found in nearly every household.
I have found that my favorite zero-waste kitchen essentials are beautiful, multi-purposeful, and budget-friendly. I love them because they combine old-school wisdom with new, fun innovations.
Thankfully, the kitchen is, by far, one of the easiest places to make significant waste-reducing changes because swaps are simple, and there are many options available on the market.
Remember: the goal is to work towards zero waste in small steps and not ditch all your disposable items in one go. (That would just be wasteful.) So instead, as you run out of something, swap for a reusable, compostable, or recyclable option–or just skip it altogether. By the way, all of these makes great holiday gifts.
Ready to start? Here are my favorite zero-waste kitchen essentials:
Instead of using paper towels, we use reusable cloth towels that are the same size as paper kitchen towels. I always keep a generous stack of them in a kitchen drawer, easily accessible by both us parents and our kids.
Beyond being zero waste, saving money, and saving trees, I love that cloth paper towels are heavy-duty and sturdy. I normally need only one towel for a big mess. I also use them for cleaning around the house, then just pop them into the laundry hamper.
I have about 30 cloth paper towels, so I hardly ever run out of them. I can reuse them repeatedly for dishes, windows, floors, pets, kids–I even bring them with me to the gym to wipe down the equipment or wipe off my face.
This concentrated dishwashing soap is seriously a cleaning powerhouse that cuts stubborn grime and grease on dishes, pots, and pans.
I also use this soap to clean my sinks both in the kitchen and bathrooms. Plus, it’s budget-friendly because it lasts a long time.
This product has completely changed my life because it’s the perfect food storage replacement for plastic and foil.
Beeswax wrap is a sheet made from 100% organic cotton fabric, natural beeswax, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and tree resin. It clings like plastic wrap so that you can wrap foods like cheese, half an avocado, or lemon–it can even cover a bowl. It’s great for wrapping food or snacks when out and about on an adventure.
Beeswax wrap is flexible, reusable, and convenient since it comes in several sizes to fit all kinds of foods and bowls. The best part about beeswax wrap is that it’s reusable. All you have to do is wash it with cold water, and it lasts about a year before you need to replace it.
After that, you can cut the wrap into strips and put it into the compost since it’s biodegradable. So, beeswax wrap saves money and the planet, and because it’s all natural and contains no chemicals, it’s also good for our health.
So many people ask me what I use instead of ziplock bags, and I get it. Ziplock bags are brilliant! (Minus the disposable plastic, of course.)
Luckily, now you can find silicone ziplock bags that work great, are much more durable than plastic, and can be reused many times, so they save both the planet and your wallet.
We like to use a hemp coffee filter that’s reusable and super durable.
Hemp is a sustainable material, and it’s super easy to clean. After each use, simply rinse it with hot water and hang it to be dried.
- Mason jars
There is no such thing as too many mason jars when you live a zero-waste lifestyle.
From freezing cooked beans or homemade tomato sauce in portion sizes to storing soups and stews, mason jars are great for so many things.
The best part about mason jars is that you rarely have to buy them brand new. Instead, ask around–people usually have mason jars with lids they will happily part with.
- Silicone baking mats
We bake a lot, so swapping disposable parchment paper for silicone baking mats that we can reuse has been a great way to help reduce waste.