Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials and Alternatives

Finding the best zero waste kitchen essentials is a great place to start when looking into a low waste lifestyle. Not only can you focus on what disposable products you own and find swaps, but you can start reducing food waste by storing it better to last longer.

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Being in the kitchen is one of my favourite things, and I absolutely love to cook and bake on my days off. Trying to find reusable alternatives for my ever growing baking habit has taken a little while to achieve, but overall it means I’ve been spending a lot less money on things like foil, baking parchment, or cupcake cases.

I’ve made a few different categories in the kitchen to make it easier to find things, but of course some things could be used for multiple categories too.

Low waste kitchen essentials

These are a few things that I think anyone could benefit with when starting a zero waste kitchen.

  • Silicone spatulas – My number one essential is the spatula. Of course I also recommend wooden ones for general cooking, I really love silicone spatulas as they are perfect for getting out that last bit of cake batter or sauce.

    I think these are a great investment to get, although they usually don’t cost a lot, as they last really long and they help reduce food waste that would otherwise be scraped into the trash. I have a few different ones, including one I use for savoury and one for sweet things, as well as two smaller ones I can take travelling too.

    If you’re a keen cook, I would recommend getting at least two – preferably that look different – because that means that incase any flavours leach into the spatula, you won’t taint something else. The last thing you want is for your vanilla cake to take like the curry paste you made the day before!
  • Apron – A close second for my essentials is most definitely the apron. While it may seem like an obvious or even a pointless thing to get, getting an apron to use while cooking means that you actually prolong the life of your clothes.

    Having an apron is one of my favourite things, because even though I wouldn’t exactly say I’m a messy cook, there has been times where sauce has splattered on my clothes or even nut butter oil soaking into my sweater. Using my apron means that I’m less likely to get food onto my much loved clothes, so they won’t get stained and last longer!
  • Measuring jugs and scales – Now while this one may sound a little strange to anyone who lives outside the UK (because we don’t use cups!), but having a measuring jug and a scale is one of my most used things in the kitchen.

    Having a jug and scale is not only good for baking, but for everyday cooking too. I really love having them as they make recipes more accurate (especially if you have a digital scale), and so reduce on food waste.
  • Tablespoon and teaspoon set – Of course, if you’re an aspiring baker, then having a good sturdy set of measuring spoons is a must. I much prefer having metal ones over plastic, as this means they won’t get tainted by flavours or spices, and will overall last longer! Try to find a set that suits you and the kind of jars you use – I have a set of rectangular ones as these can fit in lots of small narrow jars.
  • Reusable containers – Now this one may sound a little obvious, but having a good set of reusable containers is a must. Although it’s hard to find some without plastic that have a good seal, having a set that you can reuse over and over again means you’re reducing not only single use waste, but food waste too.

    If you’d like something other than a jar or tub, Stasher silicone bags are a really good storage solution for sauces and soups, or even just for taking snacks in.

    Of course with this, don’t feel like you have to go out of your way to get brand new tubs if you already own some! The best thing to do is reuse whatever stuff you already own before buying new – this could mean reusing old takeaway tubs or even plain glass jars for storage! Consider what you could use things for before throwing them out.

Zero waste baking

Of course not everyone is a baker, but if you or anyone you know loves to make sweet treats, then these could be some great ideas for your kitchen.

  • Silicone baking mats – These are fantastic, not only to use for baking treats but for baking veggies or anything else you throw in the oven! Having reusable baking mats means that you cut down on a lot of single use waste from either baking parchment or aluminium foil, and you save money in the long run too!
  • Silicone cupcake cases – I absolutely love having my silicone cupcake cases, and I’ve had the same set for as long as I can remember (probably at least 7 years now). As with the baking mats, having reusable cake cakes means that you cut down a lot on single use items. Paper cupcake cases can of course go in your compost or food waste bin, but they won’t break down properly in landfill.
  • Reusable tin and muffin liners – Similar to the cupcake cases, having reusable tin and muffin liners is great to have if you’re an avid baker. Having muffin liners if great for making things like single serve pies or tarts that you would usually make inside a muffin tin, and the tin liners are great for making brownies, tray bakes, or loaves like banana bread too.

    Not only do these cut out the waste of paper muffin cases and parchment paper for loaves, but it also means you don’t have to grease the tins too.
  • Bakeware – Having a good bakeware selection is great for making things like casseroles, pasta bakes, bread, or even pies and crumbles. Of course you don’t need to get specific dishes for sweet or savoury bakes if you don’t want to, but I would suggest trying to find dishes secondhand if you can, as this will reduce packing waste and stops them from going to landfill too!

If you’re looking to reduce your food waste at home, make sure you check out my post which has loads of tips!

Plastic free cleaning

Making sure the kitchen is clean before and after cooking is essentials, but it’s also a good idea to make sure that what you use isn’t costing the planet either.

  • Natural sponges/scrubbers – Although it may not be obvious, but many sponges are made of plastic, which break apart when used and release micro plastics into the water. There are plenty of swaps now which are made of natural materials such as cellulose or coconut bristles, as well as steel scrubbers too.

    Getting a natural scrubber means that once it has come to the end of its life, you can simply compost it or put it into your food waste bin, and that way it can break down naturally without going to landfill.
  • Dishwasher tablets – If you have a dishwasher, a good idea is to try and find some tablets that are plastic free, this way they won’t leach out micro plastics into the water with each wash. You can save around 17 gallons of water using a dishwasher compared to hand washing, so it’s a great idea to look into!

    You can find a few different brands that make dishwasher tablets or powders that are plastic free, such as Smol, Homethings, Miniml, and Fill.
  • Washing up liquid/bars – If you prefer to wash your dishes by hand or you can’t have a dishwasher, there are still low waste solutions for hand washing too.

    You can get plenty of different brands that make refillable dishwashing liquid, such as Fill and Miniml. You can also get solid bars of dish soap if that’s more your style, such as No Tox Life, and Ecoliving.
  • Natural cloths – As well as natural sponges, it’s good to have some natural clothes to use around the house too. Of course you could always use old scraps of fabric or worn out socks, but if you don’t have anything you can reuse, then Swedish Cloths are a great alternative. Being made of a mix of cellulose and cotton, these are really durable and can be used over and over again, before being composted at the end of their lives.

Miscellaneous low waste kitchen swaps

These are just a few extra things I love in the kitchen that don’t necessarily fit into the other categories, but are still great at keeping the kitchen low waste.

  • Tote bags – Although not specially a kitchen item, having reusable tote bags is a great way to reduce the consumption of plastic bags throughout the house. However, you do have to use a cotton tote bag around 131 times to receive the environmental benefits, so try and make sure you only own enough that you actually need, so you get the full use of them.
  • Tea strainer – If you’re a big tea drinker, trying to find a reusable tea strainer and drinking loose leaf tea is a great idea. Many tea bags are coated in plastic to make them last longer and so they don’t break apart in your mug, which ultimately means that they release micro plastics when used. There are loads of different strainers to look out for, so try and find one that suits you!
  • Wax wraps – These may not be for everyone – I personally don’t own any, but if you tend to use a lot of cling wrap or foil to cover your food, either on the counter or in the fridge, then wax wraps can be a really good alternative. They can be used hundreds of times (as long as you don’t use on anything warm!), they are usually made with cotton and either bees wax or soy wax.
  • Tin lids/covers – If you go through a lot of tins in your household, I really recommend reusable tin lids. These are really great for stopping your food from drying out but also from it coming out if tipped over. You don’t have to necessarily buy these new, as I’ve found that lids from coffee tubs like Nescafe tend to be the perfect size to fit!

Of course these are just some of my suggestions for making your kitchen more low waste, but hopefully it helps and gave you some ideas! Do you have any recommendations?

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