So much of our lives contain plastic. I’m not talking Mean Girls here. I mean single-use plastic that accounts for over 200 pounds of waste produced per person, per year in the United States. The kitchen space is the largest culprit with food packaging, containers, cutlery, and dishes being some of the items producing the most plastic waste. Most of these items aren’t reused or recycled and much of it ends up in the marine environment.
There are solutions though. You can incrementally rid your kitchen of single-use plastics, and eventually replace plastics entirely. Here are some tips.
Ditch the plastic bags
Invest in a few cloth or mesh bags for your vegetables. Along with your shopping totes, choose fresh vegetables from the produce bins rather than the individually packaged veggies in the aisles. You can find some of these reusable bags at ChicoBag or ECOBAGS. These bags should be made of natural fibers rather than synthetic materials but recycled, reusable plastics make for hardy items.
Give up the bottled water
Make it a habit to carry stainless steel or reusable glass water bottles like the Yeti bottles. They are easy to clean and stylish too! Aside from being naturally BPA-free, metal or glass is infinitely reusable, rids your kitchen of unnecessary plastic and saves you money on the bottled stuff that pollutes the planet.
Switch to silicone or silicone-coated steel/wood
Plastic utensils might be a great idea for those who can’t stand the sound of scraping pots (I hate it) but these need to be replaced quite regularly and cannot be recycled. Instead, you could go for silicone. If you’re going for style, wood and silicone are beautiful and silicone-coated steel will last you forever.
Replace the containers
Sorry, Mom. I know you’ve had the Tupperware for decades, but it has to go. This is a bit more difficult, but it can be done one by one. Although glass may be expensive, it is a worthwhile investment to replace each container with a glass one, especially when they go on sale. You can even get them in bulk at warehouse sales. Check out this article for places to shop!
Reusable lunch items
The ideal is to prepare lunch before going to work in glass with steel cutlery, carrying them to work in a lunch bag instead of a packet. While this is a great idea, it’s not always possible. So carry a glass container and steel cutlery for when you do get that quick bite on the run between meetings. Say no to the plastics at restaurants, give back the plastic straw, and even take your own cup to Starbucks (they’ll even give you a discount too).
Eliminate single-use plastics
Single-use plastics enrobe almost everything we bring into the kitchen, from pasta to lentils. The solution doesn’t have to be making your own pasta (though it’s tastier). There are stores scattered all over the U.S. that allow you to bring your own containers and bulk buy by weight. Other plastic-free stores like Alameda Natural Grocery (California), Erewhon Market (California), and Central Market (Texas) let you bring your own containers when grocery shopping. Live in another state? Check out this guide to help you find places to shop. You can also wrap your food in reusable storage wraps instead of cling film, or make your own.
Going plastic-free might be a long-term investment but it’s a worthwhile one, especially if you’re aiming for a green kitchen, the heart of any home.