5 Ways to Have A Zero Waste Kitchen

by Kath Johnson last updated -

How many times have you heard your mother admonish you, “waste not, want not?” It’s not a way to get you to eat your vegetables, but rather a way to save the planet for future generations. Do you understand what we mean? Read ahead!

Ways To Have A Zero Waste Kitchen

It’s actually easy to eliminate the need for a garbage can if you follow these five ways to have a zero-waste kitchen. Let’s take a look!

Reuse Shopping Bags and Containers

Most people keep those cloth shopping bags in their trunk. The trick is remembering to take them with you when you go inside the grocery store. Now that cities like San Francisco and Washington D.C. are either taxing or banning plastic bags as per the Earthday Organization, more shoppers remember to bring their own. Why stop there? You can buy most of your food in bulk these days (pasta, flour, sugar, dried fruit, candy, etc…) so bring your own glass jars or Tupperware and fill them. A mason jar has no shelf life, and you can use them over and over again. (Most clerks are willing to weigh the jars for you at the checkout lane.) Shop at farmer’s markets and local co-ops where you can pick up unwrapped produce. Many dairy farms will refill your milk bottles. [1]

Two people walking on the street carrying plastic shopping bags

Plastic shopping bags Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Buy Only What You Need

According to a report published by CNBC, Americans throw away 35 million tons of food each year. That statistic becomes even more astounding when you consider that 37 million Americans relied on food banks last year. Even if lettuce is on sale, you’re not saving money when you end up throwing it away. Create a menu each week and estimate the number of perishables you’ll be using. [2] [3]

Grow Your Own Produce

A vegetable garden gives you the luxury of having fresh vegetables at your fingertips. Even if you live in a colder climate, you can plant lettuce, kale, broccoli, and carrots and then only pick what you need. Tomato plants bloom for several months and are easy to plant in your kitchen during the winter season. An herb garden in the kitchen will add a touch of greenery and save you money in the long run.

Different types of lettuce

Lettuce can be added to stew, soup and other healthy recipes. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Don’t throw out those vegetable scraps. Whatever you can’t use in stir fry dishes and stews will make great fertilizer for your garden. Compost isn’t waste, but a way to return uneaten food to the earth. It absorbs carbon in the air and adds vital nutrients to your garden and lawn. You can use recycled wood and build a compost bin or simply create a compost pile in the corner of your yard.

Dispense With the Disposables

How many paper towels do you go through each day? Most of us rip one (or two or three) off the roll, wipe our hands and fill up the trash can. Cotton dish towels will dry your hands just as well, and won’t end up in the landfill. Same goes for plastic wrap, wax paper, and aluminum foil. A reusable cheesecloth will cover your leftovers and keep in freshness.

3 different types of compost on a lawn

Composting recycles various organic materials otherwise regarded as waste products & produces a soil conditioner. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Kick the canned goods down the road! Americans threw away more than 36 billion aluminum cans last year. About 65 percent were recycled, leaving the rest in landfills. You can avoid canned good altogether by cooking and storing your own fruits, vegetables, and sauces in mason jars. (Notice we avoid using the term “canning.)

This is only the beginning. Reusable terry cloth sponges, baking soda, and vinegar work just as well as packaged goods when it comes to cleaning your countertops and floors. If you start with these five ways to have a zero-waste kitchen, you’ll be well on your way to cleaning up the environment. There is still one thing you may have to throw out: your garbage can!

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About the Author

Kath Johnson is an avid gardener, outdoor explorer, and writer for LawnStarter. When she’s not tending to her organic vegetable garden, she can be found exploring nature by bike or boat.

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