Fruit in a cloth bag — zero waste

Zero waste ideas for the kitchen

The kitchen is the true heart of the home and, as such, it produces the most amount of waste. This doesn’t have to be the case though, and with some small changes in how you do things, you can cut waste dramatically and move towards a zero waste kitchen setup over time.

There’s a lot to take in with such a large lifestyle change, so take it one step at a time and do only what you are comfortable with. Also, don’t rush out and replace everything in your kitchen with zero waste replacements — that would go against the idea of zero waste, which is to reuse things as long as possible until they are no longer up to the job. Then you might fix it, if you can, rather than buying a replacement!

The below is some food for thought for you and your kitchen.

Set up a compost bin

If you don’t already have a compost bin, now is the time to set one up. A compost bin is a must for every kitchen as you can feed it any food waste you produce, which in turn will create a nutrient-rich compost for your garden. You can then use this compost to grow your own fruit, vegetables and salad, or to give your flowers a boost.

Shop ‘zero waste’

Spices at a bulk buy store

If you have a ‘zero waste’ or bulk buy shop nearby, lucky you! You can go there to buy loose food, such as oats, nuts, pulses, pasta, rice and spices, which you can then store in reusable containers.

Keep jars once you’ve finished a product (such as jam or peanut butter) and you can then reuse them for this purpose. Cloth bags are also a useful thing to own when shopping in this way, as carrying glass jars around can be difficult.

If you live in Leeds, there are currently two zero waste shops in the city centre —The Jar Tree in Kirkgate Market and Ecotopia in the Central Arcade.

Ditch the kitchen roll

Kitchen paper is highly wasteful as you use it once and bin it — it can’t be recycled, so it heads straight to landfill. By simply swapping this out for washable cotton cloths, you’ll save so much paper waste. You could make your own by cutting up an old towel, or there are plenty on sale online if you’d like to buy some instead.

Wash the dishes differently

zero waste washing up tools

Instead of washing up using plastic sponges or a plastic dish brush — all of which aren’t recyclable — invest in a natural dish brush with a compostable, replaceable head, or an ‘unsponge’ made from cloth and a compostable filling. There’s a great range of extras available too, such as natural bottle brushes and scourers.

Move away from cling film

Admittedly, cling film is highly useful in the kitchen, but there is a reusable alternative on the market now called a food wrap, which is so much better for the environment. Made from cloth and wax, you wrap your food or crockery and mould the sheet using the heat of your hands. Once your food wrap eventually reaches the end of its life, it’s fully compostable.

Set up a lunch kit

If you currently use cling film or tin toil to store your sandwiches until lunchtime, invest in some reusable containers. If you already own some plastic ones, use those, but if not take a look at the stainless steel and bamboo options available.

Get sustainable with straws

Reusable, plastic-free straws - zero waste

If you love drinking with a straw, you have kids who love using a straw, or you need to use one for medical purposes, then this simple swap will save you money and help the environment. Instead of using disposable straws, buy yourself a couple of reusables — there are loads of types available, including stainless steel, glass and wheat straws. Don’t forget the straw cleaner, too!


Interested in all things zero waste? Take a look at our 8 Zero Waste Swaps for the Bathroom blog post.