CREATING A PLASTIC-FREE HOUSEHOLD: KITCHEN & PANTRY EDITION 

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A plastic-free kitchen is essential for a sustainable, eco-friendly, and healthy life.  

Many of us stop thinking about our plastic waste once we have “thrown it away”. The sad truth is that plastic never really goes away. It is estimated that more than 60% of all plastic ever produced is still on our planet today. Plastic is made for eternity, and it is not biodegradable. It takes one plastic item hundreds to thousands of years to disintegrate into smaller and smaller pieces. Although you might have disposed of it responsibly, it can still sit in a landfill for centuries. It will often make its way into one of our waterways, as large plastic items or microplastic, through floods and bad weather events, causing harm to wildlife and our health. 

The reason is that plastic recycling does not work. Less than 10% of plastic is recycled; most plastic cannot be recycled with modern technology. So recycling is not an option to reduce the amount of plastic we have on our planet. The only long-term solution is to quit using single-use plastic and plastic packaging altogether.  

We can do this by switching to reusable items or using truly recyclable materials like cardboard, glass, and aluminum.  

Reducing your waste is easy, and everyone in your household can help. Try to involve all family members while auditing the plastic in your home.  

BE AWARE OF THE PLASTICS YOU CURRENTLY HAVE 

Walk into your kitchen and open the drawers, cabinets, and fridge. What disposable plastic items do you see? Are there bottles, cups, plates, bags, or snack wrappers? Count all disposable plastic items in your kitchen and record your findings in the table below. 

USE PLASTIC ALTERNATIVES:  

DINING 

Napkins and Paper Towels 

Instead of single-use paper napkins and towels wrapped in plastic packaging, try cloth napkins and towels that can be washed, rinsed, and used repeatedly.  

Mason Jars 

In addition to making great storage for loose ingredients and an alternative to plastic storage containers, mason jars can also be used as an on-the-go swap for single-use plastic cups. 

Plastic Dinnerware Alternatives 

Opt for eco-friendly disposable plates, such as compostable paper plates, when you need dinnerware that is more friendly for outdoor use or a larger gathering. If you have plastic cutlery, there is no need to throw it out. Instead, continue to hand wash, rinse, and repeat. If you purchase other disposable dinnerware, opt for the most sustainable option, and reuse it as much as possible throughout its lifespan. 

STORAGE AND ORGANIZATION 

Reusable Food Storage Bags 

Reuse plastic bags if you already have them. Click here to learn how to take care of plastic bags you already have correctly. Additionally, you can replace plastic food storage bags by opting for glass containers. Not only are glass jars better for your health because they do not contain harmful chemicals, but you can also collect and reuse glass jars from pasta sauce, pickles and co. Purchasing glass jars and containers can save you money by not having to buy disposable plastic bags frequently.  

Container Lids 

Use self-made wax wraps instead of plastic wrap to cover your food. This is a better option for stacking heavier food items than wax wrap. Also, you can use plates as a lid. If you have leftovers in a bowl, toss the container you used or served it in, and cover it with a plate in the refrigerator.  

FOOD SHOPPING  

Avoid Plastic Bags 

Bring reusable bags to the grocery store to avoid single-use plastic bags. Some states have already banned plastic bags, and many companies encourage customers to bring their own. Also, skip the plastic produce bags the next time you run errands. Use reusable bags made from cloth or natural materials, whether tote bags or even just your backpack.  

Buy Food in Bulk 

If you are able, purchase food and other products from bulk bins. The great thing about bulk stores is the lack of plastic packaging that otherwise wraps the same food found elsewhere.  

CLEANING 

Slop Rags 

Keep a supply of t-shirts and old rags as an alternative to paper towels or other disposable cleaning products in plastic packaging.  

Window Cleaner 

Use a rag to clean your windows with vinegar and water and dry with crumpled newspaper. This method works better than old-school window cleaners. Bonus, you will not inhale dangerous chemicals while you clean.  

Bulk Dish Soap  

You reduce your plastic footprint significantly by buying bulk dish soap rather than small plastic dish soap bottles.  

Homemade Dish Soap 

By making your own dish soap, you can avoid dish soap that comes in plastic packaging. Click here to find the recipe for homemade dish soap.  

Kitchen Sponges 

When plastic sponges begin to fall apart, little bits of them go down the drain. You can buy cellulose sponges that break down and are compostable or use a natural bristle brush to clean dishes.  

PANTRY

Walk into your pantry and search for plastic. We guarantee you can find some: there are plastic bags, bottles, caps, wrappers, boxes, wrap, and practically plastic everything surrounding your food.  

Here is a list of items to help make your food storage plastic-free and your pantry a little greener.  

Cloth Napkins and Paper Towels 

Instead of single-use paper napkins and towels that come wrapped in plastic packaging, try cloth napkins and towels that can be washed, rinsed, and used repeatedly.  

Silicone Sandwich Bags 

Pay attention to how much plastic you are putting in your lunchbox. There’s probably plastic wrap, plastic containers, plastic bags, and not to mention all of the plastics your food products came in. 

Give resealable silicone lunch bags a try! They are easy to keep cool with reusable ice packs, better for the environment, and sturdy.  

Mason Jars 

In addition to making great storage for loose ingredients and an alternative to plastic storage containers, mason jars can also be used as a go-to swap for single-use plastic cups.  

They are perfect for storing food, pasta, and grains. They prevent plastic from leaking into your foods and can help in your pantry or your fridge.  

Beeswax Wraps 

Instead of using plastic wrap, use beeswax wrap. It is sustainably produced, reusable, and designed to wrap around foods and dishware.  

Just use it, wash it with biodegradable soap and cold water, and reuse it.  

Reusable Bags 

Bring reusable bags to the grocery store to avoid single-use plastic bags. Some states in the U.S. and even whole countries have already banned plastic bags, and many companies are encouraging customers to bring their own. So, skip the plastic shopping and produce bags the next time you run errands. 

Grocery Stores 

Look for products packed in glass, cardboard, or aluminum at your favorite grocery store. Also, look into bulk stores and visit your local farmer’s market, butchers, and dairy farm. Here you can pick up fresh eggs and meats and bring your reusable containers to avoid plastic packaging.  

PLEDGE 2050  

The time is now to quit plastic. Take the pledge and learn how we can reduce our plastic footprint together at https://pledge2050.org/