Learn how to reduce plastic and paper waste in the kitchen.
Go Plastic Free While Shopping:
Reducing waste in your kitchen starts at the grocery store. Make sure to bring your own reusable bags instead of using single-use plastic ones. Remember that plastic bags cannot go in your at home, recycling bin, but can be recycled separately. Grocery stores usually have collection bins in the front of the store. While buying produce make sure to get items that are plastic free. There is no reason for items like bananas and oranges to be wrapped in plastic when they already have their own natural biodegradable package (Hunt). Try bringing your own reusable produce bag to reduce plastic waste. One common misconception is that green plastic bags are more Eco-friendly, but in reality this film plastic is more difficult to recycle than the white color plastic.
Ditch Plastic Water Bottles:
Plastic water bottles are extremely harmful to the planet as they are a major source of plastic pollution. They waste a tremendous amount of resources, including water and oil. The amount of oil used in a plastic water bottle is equivalent to the bottle being filled ¼ full (Printwand). Even though water bottles can easily be recycled 38 billion still end up in landfills each year. This plastic will never leave earth as it is not biodegradable. Instead, it becomes harmful micro plastic. Some solutions include drinking from the tap or using a water filter. For the containers, glasses and reusable water bottles are great alternatives to single-use bottles or plastic cups. Switching to this alternative will also save you a great deal of money as drinking bottled water everyday can cost up to $1,800 for an entire year per person (Printwand).
Using Plastic Free Wrap is All the Buzz:
Plastic wrap is not accepted in at-home recycling bins and it is very difficult to recycle. The film often gets caught in recycling equipment and it is usually contaminated from food waste. If it ends up in the oceans or waterways, it is often accidentally consumed by marine life. A great alternative to plastic wrap is beeswax food wraps they are made of cloth and then coated with beeswax. This allows it to be malleable, so the cloth sticks together without unraveling. Beeswax is mostly used for produce as it allows some airflow. There are also cloth food covers that work great if you want to cover a bowl or glass.
Get creative in the kitchen by up-cycling jars. When you buy products in glass jars simply wash them out and they are ready to be reused for storing food. Glass is also a substance that can be recycled infinitely so if you are done with a glass jar make sure to put it in the recycling bin. They can also be used in the freezer, but make sure to leave headspace as the item will expand as it freezes and you do not want the jar to break in the freezer.
Save Trees in the Kitchen:
Have rags handy for cleaning instead of using paper towels. They are easy to wash and replace. Silicone is also a great alternative in the kitchen as it can withstand temperatures –76 to 500 degrees F (Healthy Cookware). Silicone baking sheets work great as a replacement for parchment as they are reusable and easily washable. Silicone also has a lot of other unique applications such as reusable cupcake liners.
No More Single Use Coffee Pods
Single serving coffee appliances are popping up everywhere as they can provide a single cup of a drink in a variety of flavors. The problem is that these pods are extremely difficult or impossible to recycle. They are made of small plastic containers with an aluminum top. Because they are made up of two different materials and they are small it is difficult to sort the different items apart to recycle them. They are piling up in landfills and waste a tremendous amount of plastic. Currently about 41% of Americans own a single use coffee maker (Brown). New York Times found that 1 pound of single use pod coffee is about $50 that’s much more expensive than very high quality beans which are usually less than $20 per pound (Oliver Strand). If you do want a single cup of coffee look into pour over coffee. It is very flavorful and less wasteful.
The little sandwich baggies used for snacks and food storage really add up to be expensive and extremely wasteful. Currently an American family uses about 500 of these baggies per year (Bennet). They are a film plastic so they are not recyclable in at-home recycling bins, but can be recycled at film plastic collection sites. Using Tupperware for packing snacks or reusable cloth snack baggies are great alternatives. Using a reusable lunchbox also allows for insulation and a reduction in waste as sack lunches of either paper bags or plastic bags end up creating a terrible environmental impact.
Ayn-Monique Klahre, Ayn-Monique Klahre. “An Honest Look at the Pros & Cons of Bee's Wrap.” Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, LLC., 1 May 2019, www.thekitchn.com/the-pros-and-cons-to-bee-s-wrap-should-you-diy-your-own-beeswax-food-wraps-247056.
Bennet, Sophhia. “How to Recycle Ziploc Bags.” RecycleNation, 7 Oct. 2014, recyclenation.com/2014/10/recycle-ziploc-bags/.
Brown, Dalvin. “K-Cups and Coffee Capsules: Is Your Quick Java Fix Killing the Environment?” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 19 Mar. 2019, www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2019/03/13/heres-why-your-used-k-cups-coffee-pods-arent-usually-recycled/3067283002/.
Hunt, Tom. “Fruit and Veg Come in Their Own Natural Wrapping. Why Do We Smother Them in Plastic?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 28 June 2017, www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jun/28/fruit-vegetables-plastic-packaging-food-relationship-pollution.
RecycleNation. “How to Recycle Ziploc Bags.” RecycleNation, 7 Oct. 2014, recyclenation.com/2014/10/recycle-ziploc-bags/.
Sharyn. “Benefits of and Concerns about Using Silicone Bakeware.” Healthy Cookware, 13 Dec. 2018, healthy-cookware.com/the-benefits-and-concerns-of-using-silicone-bakeware/.
Strand, Oliver. “With Coffee, the Price of Individualism Can Be High.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 7 Feb. 2012, www.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/dining/single-serve-coffee-brewers-make-convenience-costly.html?_r=1&ref=business.
“Why You Need to Ditch Bottled Water This Earth Day.” Print Marketing Blog - Printwand™, Printwand, 12 Apr. 2018, www.printwand.com/blog/plastic-water-bottle-pollution-effects-facts.