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Best Zero Waste Kitchen Swaps (to save you money!)

Best Zero Waste Kitchen Swaps (to save you money!)

money-saving-kitchen-swapsTime to talk about the kitchen. It’s either your favorite room in the house – or your least favorite. I have a love-hate relationship with this space. For one, my kitchen always needs to be cleaned. Crumbs somehow appear after I’ve finished an entire sanitation session – ugh! On the other hand, the kitchen is a place where I can be creative and eat.

While most of my creations are decent, they’re only really great about 25% of the time. I’m notorious for adding too much of everything – cheese, spice, herbs, you name it. According to my boyfriend, I “over flavor” everything. And I can’t deny it! There have been a times when the spicy kick was enough to make my eyes water.

But, I’m getting better! I just started to enjoy cooking a few years ago. There are so many great memories of my huge family sitting around the dinner table, passing dishes, and laughing at one another. I love love love family dinners!

Family dinners are the very first thing planned when I mention that I’m coming “home” (aka my parents’ house) for a visit.

But, there are a few things I don’t love about the kitchen. First, I make a huge mess. I try not to, but each night I end up with food flying everywhere, a sink full of dishes, and ingredients scattered among the countertops. The worst is the food and spices cemented onto my kitchen countertop.

Let me tell ya, turmeric and paprika stains take some good, old-fashion scrubbing power. And, chances are, I’ve spilled a bit of wine during the chaos. *Cue more scrubbing*

zero-waste-kitchenStill, I love the kitchen. So, it was the first room I started in when I took the green living bull by the horns. Months later, I’ve made a lot of swaps but I’m nowhere near finished! I still buy plastic packaging (can they sell Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in bulk?) and fill up my trash can every few weeks. Baby steps, ya know?

That’s what it’s all about. Going zero waste, or living more sustainably, isn’t about being perfect. Every mindful step deserves recognition. You tossed your banana peel in the compost? Round of applause! Seriously – it is that simple, and that wonderful.

Of course, I always have to mention the best part of this whole, green, crunchy journey. OK, maybe not the very best, because lending mother nature a helping hand is way up there. But, second best…you don’t have to spend any money to go green.

You will save money by making these zero waste kitchen swaps.

You will take the trash out less – cutting down on the amount you’re spending for garbage bags AND trash pick up.

You will buy more food in bulk – which a majority of the time is less expensive that packaged items.

You will never have to buy another roll of paper towels. ever. again. Or cling wrap.

You’re food storage containers will last longer.

You’ll stop breaking utensils. Just last week I broke a plastic spatula (ugh).

So, let’s elaborate a bit, shall we? Here’s the best kitchen swaps that will cut down on your waste and save you cash money!

For more green living tips, check out How to Reduce Plastic Use, Avoid Produce Waste, and Starting a Zero Waste Bathroom.


Replace paper towels with cloths

Stop buying paper towels. Seriously. Right now. Stop it. Replace your roll of paper towels with cloth towels or rags. You can even cut up old clothing.

A cloth rag can do everything that a paper towel can do, and then some. You can even reuse the rags multiple times if you hang them to dry. Once they are gross and dirty, plop ‘em in the laundry hamper and wash ‘em with your next load.

Cloth rags barely take up any room in my washer. And, I’ve put them all in a cute basket that sits on my counter. I use rags to wipe up the massive mess that I make each night while cooking and I’m never going back to paper towels.

Invest in reusable containers

Pick up some glass containers and you won’t have to buy another one for years. The glass storage containerss are durable and microwave safe. Perfect for leftovers! You no longer need to wrap your pizza slices in a plastic bag or aluminum foil.

I do have a few plastic containers that are on their last leg. Plastic storage containers are NOT microwave safe – chemical “plastiziers” (like BPA) can leak into your food (gross). And, my plastic containers break and crack all the time.

You should also keep all glass jars. Glass is always reusable. Just rinse ‘em out and fill them with whatever you need – coffee, rice, beans, etc. I fill my glass jars will bulk bin items each week and it saves me a bunch of moola!

And, reusable cling wrap? Hell yeah! Cling wrap is another one-time-use item that you’ll never have to buy again.

Stock your pantry with bulk foods

Bulk bin shopping has almost become a hobby of mine. Whenever I have an extra glass jar, I search for what new, bulk item I can fill it with. Bulk loose-leaf tea is next up. You can find bulk bins at Sprouts, Whole Foods, and some Kroger stores.

Research what stores have bulk sections in your town. Down the street from me there’s even have an entire store that is dedicated to selling only bulk items! Candy stores commonly have bulk items, too.


Stock up on grains, sweets, spices, and baking goods in the bulk sections. These are typically much less expensive than buying the packaged alternative.

If you can’t find a bulk section near you, just start buying large quantities. Last winter I bought a one-pound package of rice every week. Finally, I opted for the huge five-pound bag. It was less packaging, saved me money, and saved me from making extra trips to the grocery store!

Make homemade meals

Ultimate money saving tip! It obviously costs less to cook a meal at home than go out to eat. Treat yourself every once in a while, (date night, here I come!) but otherwise, try to eat at home more. Maybe you eat ONE extra meal at home this week *claps* – that’s all it takes. Little by little.

Most restaurants don’t have recycling/composting policies. When I was a bartender, I was disgusted at the amount of glass bottles that went straight into the trash can. And don’t even get me started on all the perfectly good food that was wasted. When you eat at home, you have complete control over your ingredients, leftovers, and waste.

Please let me know of any restaurants with zero waste or awesome environmental missions – I’m on the hunt!

Compost your food scraps

Alright, y’all, you know I had to add it in here. Composting is the very best, top notch, holy grail of green living. Organic (compostable) materials take up the majority of landfill space. What the f*$k!

Check out my Composting Guide (yes, even for an apartment) and let’s all adopt this super easy way to reduce food waste.


You can also swap your large plastic utensils and cutting board for bamboo products. Making these kitchen swaps may take some time. You definitely don’t have to do it all at once. One mindful step at a time.

Intrigued? Want to save more money? Check out my Zero Waste Lifestyle Guide and Eco Friendly Travel Tips to get started.

Sustainability is all about caring for the earth and caring for ourselves. Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back each time you make a sustainable choice.

Get green living tips and updates straight to your inbox by signing up for my email list. You’ll also get the first peek at my upcoming FREE SUSTAINABLE LIVING EBOOK.

Lastly, connect with me on social media and pin this article for later. I want to know which of these kitchen swaps you liked the most. Have you already “gone green” around your home? Which one of these swaps seems the most doable? Comment below!

4 thoughts on “Best Zero Waste Kitchen Swaps (to save you money!)”

  • Hi Olivia, enjoyed your article but as the owner of a bar/restaurant in the UK who has been recycling cans , glass , cardboard paper and food waste since we started in 1981, please don’t assume we are all bad in this industry.

    • Hi Janet, that’s awesome to hear that your restaurant is big on recycling! I love restaurants and stores that have a sustainability mission, and more seem to be popping up everyday (so cool).
      I definitely don’t assume that the entire industry is bad – just the few restaurants that I have been employed at don’t do a great job with recycling. I hope that together we can spread the word and make more businesses aware of their environmental impacts.

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