Finding reusable kitchen items that work for a family
Zero waste is an intriguing idea, but it often seems like an ideal that is impossible to reach. I have tried…many times. I have read blogs like Zero Waste Home, and I have embraced recycling and upcycling anything and everything. However, I have failed at being completely zero waste. I am part of a family. We buy things, and we generate trash. We try to be better every day.
One of the easiest ways for me to work towards a zero-waste home was to focus my efforts on replacing kitchen disposables with reusable kitchen items. Paper and plastic disposable products cost money and they litter the earth. They also fit into my “excess” category which did not fit into my minimalist lifestyle journey. Reducing our kitchen disposables consumption with reusable kitchen items was the easiest way to start moving to a minimalist and zero-waste home.
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Why reduce your use of kitchen disposables?
1 – Kitchen disposable products create more waste.
Our landfills and oceans are filling up with trash by astronomical amounts every day. Even though many paper products are compostable, they are sitting inside non-compostable plastic garbage bags. If you have a moral driven cause to move towards a zero-waste lifestyle, then this is a great reason to reduce your disposable consumption and move towards more reusable items in the kitchen.
2 – Kitchen product disposables costs money.
My number one driving force to research and implement a zero-waste lifestyle was to save money. Why buy a single use item when you can buy something that can be used over and over again? Sure, some of these items cost more money on the front end, but the amount of money you save in the long run far outweighs the initial cost.
3 – Kitchen disposable products are an unnecessary luxury.
When I decided to pursue a simpler life and find more joy, I decided to declutter my home and searched for ways to buy less. Part of buying less was using items in multiple ways and reducing the number of items we bring into our home. One thing I learned is kitchen disposables are really a luxury. You do not need a paper plate when you have real plates available. Sure, they save you time, but they cost you money and are usually unnecessary. You also don’t need to use plastic wrap over a bowl if you have a container with a lid.
Want to reduce your kitchen disposable consumption? Check out these reusable kitchen items:
Find a reusable kitchen paper towel choice
Do you buy a paper towel mega-pack every time you go to Costco? Those suckers are expensive, and it is an expense I cannot afford to make over and over again. I’ve met people who use paper towels for many of their kitchen and cleaning tasks, including using them to clean their kitchen counters every night. I’ve also met people who use paper towels in their bathrooms for drying their hands after using the restroom. That’s a lot of paper towels!
I still buy paper towels. I haven’t found anything better that works for gross clean-up tasks, like vomit and puppy accidents. I once cut paper towels out of our lives completely, but then we got a puppy. I learned quickly you sometimes need a paper towel on hand. I do buy the select-a-size paper towels so I can pick the size I need for the job.
Instead of using paper towels, use cleaning cloths, dishcloths or dish towels.
Use dishcloths and cleaning rags to reduce paper product consumption
You can still be clean and not use paper towels. Invest in some nice dishcloths that make you happy and can get the cleaning job done. Use them to clean your counters every night. If the idea of reusing them the next day grosses you out, just throw them into the laundry with your next load of clothes.
For your cleaning tasks, use the same cleaning washcloths each time. That way they don’t get mixed in with your kitchen dishcloths. I like to recycle old dishcloths into cleaning rags. Just don’t fall victim to saving every old dishcloth into a cleaning rag. At some point, you only need so many cleaning rags, and you don’t want a cluttered linen closet.
Use dish towels
Paper towels only do so much drying anyway, so use a dish towel as a paper towel alternative. Create a cleaning towel and a dish towel inventory. Again, only keep the necessary number of towels so as to not create a cluttered linen closet.
Stop using paper plates for regular day usage
Stop using paper plates for regular, everyday usage. They are wasteful, and they cost money. Instead, do your best to use the plates you have on hand already. Washing, even if by hand, only takes a quick minute. You can greatly reduce your trash output when you stop using paper plates.
Invest in or make reusable napkins
Reusable napkins are so easy and one of the easiest paper product alternatives you can embrace. My kiddos literally fight and bicker over the reusable napkins in our home because they are such fun designs. I switched to reusable napkins once I realized how often I was buying the paper ones and how little they were getting used at every meal. I also found myself often wetting a washcloth, as they did a better job getting my little ones’ mouths and hands clean.
If you are crafty and like to sew, you can make reusable napkins for your home. (You do not have to be a master seamstress for this project! You just need to sew four straight lines. For real y’all, this is super easy.) My favorite fabrics are the cute little fat quarters you can buy at Joann’s or the already cut fat quarter coordinating packs on Amazon. If you are too busy or cannot sew, then buy some reusable napkins that make you and your family happy.
I like to have about 16 napkins on hand for our family of four. That gets us through a few days of use without having to wash them all every day. We also often reuse the napkins for multiple meals throughout the day. I cannot tell you how many times my kids have a napkin and never use it. So, when this happens, we leave the napkins at our place settings and use them again with dinner. When done, throw them in with your regular laundry.
A reusable alternative to plastic wrap
Instead of using plastic wrap, invest in some reusable bowl covers. You can find reusable fabric bowl covers on Amazon, Etsy, or you can even make them. They work just as well as disposable plastic wrap. Just throw them in the wash after each use.
Reusable food storage bags
Another reusable kitchen item alternative we use almost daily are silicone food storage bags to replace our plastic Ziploc bags. I’ve tried a few brands, and this is my favorite brand! They have cute designs for your kids too. They just came out with a half-gallon size that is awesome! My kids also love these food-safe fabric food storage bags. I wash both types of bags in the dishwasher wrong side out.
Beeswax Cloth Wraps
Another reusable kitchen alternative is Beeswax cloth wraps. They can be used to wrap sandwiches, veggies to go, or anything else you can think to put in it. Beeswax cloth easily replaces plastic wrap and food storage bags.
I don’t know if water bottles constitute a kitchen item, but I could not live without my reusable water bottle. Buying water bottles can be so expensive, not to mention the amount of waste they create. Invest in a water bottle you love. I bought a 24 ounce Nalgene bottle. I hate the straws, and I want a protected mouthpiece. It is a personal choice but find one you enjoy. Use it regularly when on the go. (True story, I actually shopped for a purse that fit my Nalgene bottle perfectly.)
Reusable kitchen items are the new cool
OK, maybe reusable kitchen items are not the new cool. In fact, I often get made fun of for my choices. However, embrace your simple living. You are saving the earth and you are saving a butt-load of money over the long-haul by kicking disposable kitchen items to the curb.
What things have you done to reduce your disposable kitchen item waste? What are some reusable kitchen items you cannot live without? Let us know in the comments!