10 Little Ways to Create Less Waste in the Kitchen

updated Jun 8, 2019
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It’s Earth Day — or Earth Month, as we prefer! — so naturally, we’re turning our focus to the kitchen. And specifically ways we can create less waste and be more efficient and thoughtful with our output. Between packaging and food scraps, some degree of kitchen waste feels inevitable. For most, there’s no way to eliminate it entirely, but there are a lot of small and easy ways to limit the amount of waste coming out of our kitchens. There’s no time like the present to take a small step to do just that. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

1. Take your own bags to the grocery store.

Get in the habit of grabbing a few totes before heading out the door — or, better yet, leave some reusable grocery bags stashed in your car. And depending on where you live, it might even save you some money if your store charges for plastic or paper bags.

2. Buy in bulk to minimize packaging.

Take advantage of the bulk bins for things like nuts, seeds, dried beans and legumes, rice, grains, and snacks. Some stores even sell spices, olive oil, and baking staples like flour and sugar in bulk bins. Shopping from the bulk bins minimizes packaging waste, and you can also take it a step further by bringing your own bags.

3. Buy only what you need.

This might seem obvious, but it can be tempting to toss extra items in the grocery cart. Buying just what you need not only prevents food waste, but it will also save you money — it’s a win-win.

(Image credit: Bee’s Wrap)

4. Invest in reusable containers and wrap.

Stocking up on things like a good set of meal prep containers, Stasher bags, and reusable produce bags is a worthwhile investment for your kitchen. The same goes for wax bee’s wrap, which can be used the same way you’d use plastic wrap or aluminum foil. You’ll spend some money upfront, but it hugely reduces the amount of plastic bags, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil you’d otherwise go through over time.

5. Upcycle used glass jars.

Instead of tossing them in the recycling bin, give used glass jars from things like jam, sauce, or nut butter new life (after a good cleaning, of course). Upcycle them into storage containers for bulk bin items, homemade nut milk, or even a pot for fresh herbs.

6. Never let food scraps go to waste.

Whether it’s potato or apple peels, fruit that’s past its prime, wilted herbs, or stale tortillas, don’t go straight to the trash or compost with food scraps. It doesn’t always seem like it, but they’ve still got some life left in them — you just have to get creative.

7. Stash bags in the freezer for vegetable peels, meat bones, and Parmesan rinds.

These are three things you’ll almost always find in my freezer. This also falls under the category of not letting foods scraps go to waste, but deserves its own mention. Keep the three stored separately, and use them for stock and broth, and the Parmesan rinds for sauces and soups, for extra flavor.

8. Switch to cloth napkins over paper.

If you’re currently using paper napkins or paper towels consider a switch to cloth napkins. Not only does it limit what’s going in the trash bin every day, but cloth napkins have a way of instantly dressing up lunch and dinner.

(Image credit: FotoDuets/Getty Images)

9. Invest in microfiber cloths for cleaning to limit paper towel use.

I never realized just how many paper towels I went through until I started using microfiber cloths for cleaning up the kitchen (and other areas of the house).

10. Switch to stainless steel straws over plastic.

If your morning routine includes an iced coffee or smoothie on the go, consider ditching the plastic (or paper!) straw for a reusable stainless steel straw. A lot of shops are ditching the plastic, so why not get on board too?

Your turn! What’s your favorite way to limit the amount of waste in your kitchen?