Practicing sustainability when it comes to fashion has been at the forefront of our minds since discovering how much waste comes from the industry. But what about the other aspects of our life? We can make changes in our everyday life in an effort to be more sustainable. To some, that might start with your closet. To others, it may start with your kitchen.
The EPA estimates that 41 million tons of food waste is generated annually with 6.3 percent composted rather than ending up in a landfill or incinerator. That doesn’t even include the rest of the potential waste that can come from your kitchen. Beyond food scraps, there’s cleaning supplies, dishware, and plenty of other single-use products that have become a part of our daily routines that could be substituted for more environmentally conscious alternatives.
Buy and shop zero waste
Our food comes in, quite frankly, a lot of plastic. Before we even get to food scraps, we go through so much waste getting to the products. Try to avoid using single-use plastic or paper bags when you’re shopping, opting to bring your own shopping bag to carry your load. Tote along some produce wraps or cloth to keep your apples, avocados, whatever your heart desires safe and separate without utilizing a small plastic bag.
Check out your area for zero waste shops. These will allow you to bring your own container (gather your mason jars!) and fill it up with your desired amount of product without having to buy pre-packaged groceries that come wrapped in plastic and packaging that will just be thrown out.
Compost what you can
Eliminating as much waste in our kitchens helps divert garbage from ending up in our landfills and composting helps benefit our earth by putting the materials back into the soil. All it takes is research on what is and isn’t compostable to make this simple change in your life. A general rule of thumb is that if it came from the ground, you can likely compost it. Have any leftover veggie scraps, eggshells, nuts, coffee grounds, or grains? Toss them into a reusable container and store in your freezer to reduce the smell until it’s time to bring them to your local composting center. Avoid composting things that contain animal fat or dairy products.
Phase-out single-use products
Reducing the number of single-use products you utilize, aside from any health-related necessities, can help dramatically decrease the amount of waste that accumulates during our normal daily routines. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, if current consumption and waste management habits continue, there will be 12 billion tons of plastic litter in landfills and our environment by 2050.
Use washable towels rather than relying on paper towels to dry or clean up any messes. Steer away from food delivery cutlery and opt for using your own silverware while investing in bamboo chopsticks for your home-cooked or ordered-in meals as well as glass or metal straws instead of plastic. Invest in a glass water bottle, like this one from nécessité, for your hydration needs and glass containers to keep your leftovers fresh without relying on flimsy plastic storage.
Use dishwashing bars
Much like bars of soap or shampoo bars, switch to a dishwashing bar for your daily chores. It’ll keep your dishes clean without using liquid soap in large, plastic containers. Use them alone or with plastic-free cleaning tools to break through dirt and grime on your dishes without the environmental impact of a typical bottle of dishwashing liquid.
Switch to compostable sponges and silicone scrubbers
Finding compostable sponges (not to be confused with biodegradable, which aren’t as effective or environmentally conscious) will keep your dishwashing routine under control without having to dispose of its plastic alternative every time it gets worn out. Look for any vegetable-based sponges that don’t contain any chemicals for a safe compostable option. Pair your compostable sponge with a silicone scrubbing brush or glove to scrub and wash all of your dishes without tossing sponges left and right.