The kitchen is a great place to start reducing plastic in your home. There are some quick and easy (but impactful) changes you can make.
What you can do
You don’t need to throw away all of your plastic kitchen items at once. Instead, phase out your plastic use in the kitchen as things wear out or run out.
When it comes time to replace or buy new kitchen items, opt for kitchenware, cookware, bakeware, and utensils made from wood, glass, metal, or ceramic. While we don’t believe buying new is best before an item has been used to the fullest, bear in mind that old or damaged plastic items can shed microplastics into the environment and even leach toxins into the food they come in contact with.
Choosing plastic-free alternatives for dishwashing is not only better for the environment but also better for your health.
- Choose a wooden dish brush, reusable washcloth, or sponge instead of plastic dish brushes and sponges.
- Buy dish soap in bars or refill old bottles of dish soap and dishwasher tablets or powder in stores where dispensaries are available.
It can be challenging to store and pack food without using plastic, but there are a lot of good alternatives:
- Use glass jars and other empty glass containers that you already have on hand.
- Keep leftovers in a bowl and place a plate over the top as a lid.
- Pack sandwiches in reusable sandwich bags or paper bags.
- Use reusable bottles or empty bottles that you already have on hand rather than buying drinks in disposable containers.
- Replace your plastic cling film with beeswax wraps. They can be purchased ready to use or follow instructions online to make your own.
- If you need to use resealable plastic storage bags, it’s a good idea to wash them and reuse them as many times as possible.
As soon as you begin sorting your household waste, recycling and composting properly, the amount of trash you’re left with drops drastically. The city of Reykjavík states that residents need not package their garbage in bags before placing it in the collection bins (although residents are responsible for keeping their bins reasonably clean). Depending on the needs of your household, there are a few options to choose from:
- Forgo the bag altogether and throw trash directly in the bin.
- Use paper bags or line the bottom of your trash can with newspaper and empty directly into the bin.
- Reuse bags that you already have on hand (e.g., the plastic packaging around toilet paper, the plastic pouch from cereal, leftover bags from shopping, etc.).
- Buy biodegradable trash can liners made from corn starch.
Increasingly, retailers are offering plastic-free options to consumers. Buying this way sends a strong message that you are a consumer that wants to move toward a more plastic-free world.
- Bring your own reusable bags when shopping, both produce bags and shopping bags.
- Seek out retailers that offer packaging-free and bulk food, and use your own containers from home to transport.
- Make your own! Much of the food we typically buy in plastic containers can be made at home. Check out these links to recipes for making some of these items at home.
- Almond Milk: Almonds are an item that can be purchased in your own container, and almond milk is an excellent alternative to cow’s milk. Making your own almond milk is simple!
- Yogurt (Vegan): Making your own vegan yogurt at home is not as hard as you think. And your own dairy yogurt is doable too!
- Granola Bars: Most of the ingredients for your own homemade granola bars can be bought using your own containers, and making them is as easy as 1-2-3.
- Mayonnaise: Homemade mayonnaise is easy to make from scratch and forms the basis for a large number of cold sauces.
- Reduce hundreds or even thousands of single-use plastic items by making easy and more informed changes in the kitchen.
- Reduce pressure on local recycling systems.
- Reduce unnecessary waste and save precious resources.
Have something to say? Engage with others in our Plastlaus september discussion groups on Facebook or send us a message by email.