Once upon a time in the 1950s, plastic was all the rage and cling film was described as “magic”. Kitchens were given a complete overhaul — households across the US and Western Europe swapped their zero-waste kitchen products for new, shiny plastic alternatives.
Little did they know that their new products would end up polluting the planet over half a century later. After all, we’ve only managed to recycle 9% of all plastic produced since the 1950s.
Now we know better, we need to do the reverse! Let’s take a look at five of the most wasteful kitchen items and the zero-waste kitchen solutions you need to know about.
1. Cling film
Unfortunately, the most magical thing about cling film is that it never completely breaks down. It just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic. No councils in the UK collect it for recycling, partly because it can clog up recycling machinery.
Instead, cover bowls with plates and reuse Tupperware and jars for food storage. If those options don’t suffice, reach for aluminium foil — it’s easy to recycle and you can even reuse the same piece after giving it a rinse! Beeswax wraps are also an excellent alternative to cling film — use them to wrap vegetables, sandwiches, fruit and more. Thanks to beeswax wraps, we haven’t touched cling film in years!
Shop here: Beeswax wraps
2. Tea bags
Tea-lovers, brace yourselves — most tea bags contain plastic. It’s what binds the bag together. Tea bags from brands such as PG Tips, Twinings, and Yorkshire Tea contain plastic and aren’t suitable for compost or food waste collection. All is not lost. Tea Pigs is one brand that sells plastic-free tea bags, which can be found in most supermarkets. Or, consider switching to tea leaves.
Shop here: Plastic-free tea
3. Kitchen sponges
Most kitchen sponges are made from plastic. As you wash your dishes, they shed tiny plastic fibres, which go down your drain and end up in natural waterways. Let’s go back to the good old days and embrace natural materials! Organic cotton, hessian, jute, luffa, and even coir (found in coconuts) are great options for zero-waste kitchen sponges. Even better, many natural sponges are washable, and last far longer than plastic sponges. When they eventually deteriorate, you can compost them!
4. Kitchen roll
It isn’t made from plastic, but kitchen roll is another item that made its way onto shopping lists in the 1950s. Shoppers didn’t realise at the time that they were trading sustainability for convenience, as the majority of kitchen roll is made from virgin trees. How about using old tea towels to mop up spills instead? Or, treat yourself to a set of zero-waste kitchen cloths. Introducing cloth napkins to the kitchen table is another way to save on kitchen roll. Not only will you spare trees, you’ll save plastic wrap and money in the long run!
Shop here: Reusable kitchen cloths
5. Cleaning spray
We’ve all got a cupboard under the sink that’s brimming with plastic cleaning sprays. However, you don’t have to keep adding to it. Use your empty plastic spray bottles to house your own DIY cleaning sprays! Make surface cleaner by mixing equal parts white vinegar and water. If DIYs aren’t your thing, you can buy refill pods for spray bottles, or surface cleaner in the form of a paste that comes in a tin. Mangle & Wringer’s cleaning paste lasts for months and months, and smells of rosemary and eucalyptus!
We hope we’ve provided you with some zero-waste kitchen inspiration! Our great-grandparents would be proud. Discover more eco-friendly alternatives to your everyday products with our zero-waste subscription box, from deodorant to skincare and much more.