If I’m being completely honest, when I started living away from home the last thing on my mind was having a sustainable kitchen. My thought process was less “let me see how I can invest in life long pieces that are as harmless as possible to the planet and the people that made them” and more “holy shit I have to buy literally everything a person needs to survive! Give me all of the cheap plastic please and thank you!” Ikea, B&Ms and Pound Land truly were my saviours. They meant that I was able to stock up on the tonnes of kitchen stapels without having to remortgage a house I didn’t own and without having to worry that anything got broken when my flatmates came in from a night out.
However, as you might have seen over on my Instagram this weekend that I’ve recently moved into my own little space with my boyfriend. Yep, that’s right my friends, we have a whole fridge to ourselves. We have amounts of storage that Student Beth could only dream of! And that also means that I’ve finally been able to take the plunge and invest in some of the Zero-Waste Kitchen essentials that I’ve converted on many a pinning session.
Starting my zero-waste kitchen will definitely be a journey. Since a lot of sustainable things are more expensive than their less ethical alternatives, it’s going to be a case of slowly but surely accumulating what I want. I’ve already bought a few things and I’ve certainly got a few things on a wishlist waiting for me.
So, in the hopes that this will inspire you to make some simple swaps in your kitchen, or to give you an idea of where to start in making it less wasteful, I thought I’d share those things I already own and those things I want to own in transitioning to zero waste.
Let’s start with the one everyone has already thought of, shall we? Stainless steel straws!
As every person on Twitter has already told you, disposable straws can be detrimental to marine life, as well as not being recyclable. So, getting one that’s reusable is pretty much “level one” of becoming an eco -warrior. I decided to get these oil slick effect ones because I thought they would look pretty in my kitchen (read: they would look pretty in Instagram pictures of my kicthen). They also come with a cleaning brush to make sure that everything stays bacteria free.
As someone who practically runs on tea, not buying tea bags is one major way that I’ve started cutting down my unnecessary waste. Where possible I use loose leaves bought in bulk and then popped in a tea strainer.
As another tea bag alternative, this pot infuser is great for whenever you need to make a brew for more than one person. I was lucky enough to get gifted one similar to this for Christmas last year.
4. Compost Bin
Now that I’m living back in Kent (aka “The Garden of England”) and not in a flat in London, composting has become a lot more of an option for me. I always hated chucking food waste in my general rubbish, so I made sure that I had a compost bin as soon as we moved into our new place.
Clingfilm and tinfoil are some of those kicthen essentials that most of us probably don’t even think about whilst we use them. It’s just so convenient, dammit! You don’t have to wash it and you can just chuck your sandwiches in your bag without having to worry about any extra weight. I get it.
However, a great alternative is this wax wrap which, when warmed up slightly from the heat of your hands, sticks to itself. When you’re finished with it, simply rinse it off and hang it to dry. I bought this set that comes with three different sizes of the wrap to get me started.
I’ve recently started drinking more coffee, so I thought that I would invest in a cafetière before I got into the habit of using the instant stuff. The packaging for ground coffee is relatively minimal and lasts me a hell of a long time. It’s also a bonus that this stainless steel cafetière isn’t made from any plastic at all.
Not Pictured: Jars. And a lot of them. Any time I buy products that come in jars I wash them out and keep them to store loose produce that I buy in bulk. If you have a bulk shop near you, you can take these sorts of jars in to reduce your plastic use.
Cleaning is often an extremely wasteful activity. Since we’re worried about bacteria, we quite regularaly throw away things like sponges which harbour bacteria. These natural brushes are a great, more hygienic alternative for washing pots and pans and veggies. They’re also completely biodegradable and look very aesthetically pleasing.
I’m slowly trying to cut out plastic completely in my food shops. Instead of buying juice from a supermarket (the cartons they come in can’t be recycled more often than not), I would one day like to be able to buy oranges and juice them myself. Not only does fresh juice just taste better, but I’ll be able to get loose, packaging free oranges at my local farm shop. This juicer is almost completely glass, which makes it even better.
Granted, this probably won’t be something that I need until next summer now, but I’ll definitely be investing at some point. Bags of ice and conventional ice cube trays usually use plastic, so this stainless steel one is a great alternative. It also has an “easy release handle” which means it won’t be a struggle to get your ice cubes out, despite the inflexible material.
For the time being, I have plenty of plastic Tupperware pots that are serving me just fine. However, when I can’t use those anymore I’m hoping to buy these stainless steel boxes. Not only are they great for carrying lunches, but for storing food in the fridge as well.
As I said earlier, sponges are thrown away relatively frequently in most houses since they can harbour bacteria. These “unsponges” can be thrown into the wash instead and reused, which I think is absolutely genius!
12. Bread bag
At some point soon I’m hoping to buy all of my bread from a local bakery. Ideally I would like to avoid using thin plastic bags in favour of a reusable one like this. It’s nice and roomy so that it can fit different types of loaves and it has a plastic liner that can be cleaned easily.
Whilst my coffee making ritual is already pretty low waste, buying beans in bulk and grinding them myself would make it even better! This certainly isn’t an “essential” for me right now, but something to aim for in the future.