Your Zero Waste Kitchen: 10 Easy Tips For A Plastic-Free Pantry

Your Zero Waste Kitchen: 10 Easy Tips For A Plastic-Free Pantry

Explore easy ideas for a plastic-free pantry in our zero-waste kitchen guide. Discover the multiple benefits of having a well-stocked and low-waste kitchen. 

The kitchen is the heart of the home, where morning coffees are enjoyed, meals are shared, and celebrations are honored. Whatever this room means to you, there’s one thing we’re almost certain will be present: plastic. 

The average American generates 309lb of plastic each year and only 5% is recycled. This unwelcome dinner guest is hard to avoid, with plastic-packaged produce, food storage, and take-out containers everywhere. There is one place, however, where you can easily kick plastic out for good: your pantry! 

In this zero-waste kitchen guide, we’ll share some tips to create a Pinterest-worthy plastic-free pantry, no matter how big or small the space.



How Can I Make My Kitchen Zero Waste

There are many ways to reduce waste in your kitchen waste, starting from your grocery trip and finishing with how you deal with food scraps. 

First, consider where you produce the most waste: are you a big fan of plastic wrap, or constantly forgetting about the food in the refrigerator? Once you know where your waste is coming from, you can make a bigger impact by cutting it back. 

  • Meal plan in advance so you only buy what you need
  • Bring your own refillable containers and bags to the store 
  • Support local markets and refill stores where you can buy unpackaged goods
  • Buy in bulk so you reduce plastic packaging 
  • Create a plastic-free pantry with upcycled jars and containers
  • Bulk cook and freeze leftovers to avoid food waste and save time 
  • Use up leftovers in new recipes, broths, soups, and stews
  • Compost food scraps that can’t be used
  • Make DIY cleaning products (or opt for plastic and chemical-free options)
  • Swap aluminum or parchment paper for reusable baking mats
  • Use reusable cloths instead of plastic-packaged paper towels 
  • Meal prep to avoid the temptation to buy takeout 
  • Prepare snacks at home to avoid grabbing plastic-packaged options
  • Use a dish block and bamboo dish brushes instead of plastic bottles and brushes 
  • Label and date food so you know what to use up first 

Feeling inspired but not sure how to get started? Skip to our zero-waste kitchen essentials list.

But for now, we’ll focus on just one thing: creating a plastic-free pantry. Once you’ve got your food storage looking perfect, the rest will fall effortlessly (and enjoyably) into place. 

Let’s get it cooking, good looking!

10 Tips For a Plastic-Free Pantry 

a shelf filled with lots of different types of spices

1. Upcycle Old Jars

Save old mason jars, sauce bottles, and containers of all shapes and sizes. Rinse them out and remove the label, and you’ve got pretty glass jars to store your grains, beans, nuts, and pasta!

2. Buy in Bulk

Many stores allow you to bring your jars or cloth bags for bulk items. Even if they don’t, by buying more items at once you’re avoiding the need for multiple plastic bags and trips to the store. 

3. Keep a Treat Tin

Got a metal container that would make the perfect cookie jar or treat tin? Or a box that would be perfect for your tea or coffee? Add them to your pantry for a touch of nostalgia.

4. Shop at Farmers Markets

If it’s accessible for you, buy your fresh produce from farmers' markets where you can avoid plastic packaging. We don’t know about you, but we find them much more enjoyable than brightly lit supermarkets!

5. Keep Hold of Old Bottles

Whether it once continued fresh juice or red wine, we won’t judge! Just keep hold of the bottle and use it to store oils and sauces.

6. Make Your Own Snacks

Prepare homemade snacks like granola, trail mix, and cookies to avoid buying packaged goods. Store them in glass or metal containers for a wholesome addition to your pantry.

7. Opt for Paper or Fabric Produce Bags 

When purchasing bread, fruits, and vegetables, use paper or cloth bags instead of plastic ones if you can.

8. Adopt a Minimalist Approach

Embrace the first of the 3 (or 6) R’s of zero waste: reduce, reuse, recycle. Buy only what you need and keep your pantry clutter-free. Less waste, more space.

9. Use Beeswax Wraps 

Swap plastic wrap for beeswax wraps. They’re reusable, easy to clean, and perfect for wrapping leftovers.

10. Get Handy With Labels

Use reusable labels that you can write on ( decorate if you like) and wipe off, ensuring you can easily identify and organize your spices and produce without relying on plastic packaging. This not only reduces plastic waste but also adds a charming aesthetic to your shelves.

Why Create A Plastic-Free Pantry?

man in white dress shirt sitting beside woman in orange sweater

Creating a plastic-free pantry has so many benefits not only for the planet but also for your bank account, health, and overall well-being!

By reducing plastic pollution, you help protect wildlife by minimizing the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and oceans, promote a circular economy by using refillable containers, and decrease your carbon footprint by stocking up and cutting back on trips to the store. 

While the initial investment in reusable containers may be higher (remember, upcycling is always an option!) it saves money over time by eliminating the need to repeatedly buy single-use plastics. 

With all the ingredients there and ready to be used, you might find yourself more inspired to cook from scratch. According to this article, a week of buying meals might cost you $215 whilst a week of meal prep might cost you $119.41, saving you $95 a week! Not to mention that cooking from scratch is inevitably healthier as you know exactly what’s going into what you eat. 

A visually appealing, calm, and clutter-free pantry encourages more mindful consumption and eating habits, for a ‘you’ that embodies your values! 

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Repurpose old jars and containers for as much as possible. As for everything else, we have a plastic-free version for you: 

Remember: Progress Over Perfection!

When it comes to creating a zero-waste kitchen, we know plastic can be hard to avoid. 

You wake up and realize you’re out of OJ and rush out for a bottle.
Your friend brings around a packet of crisps for your movie night.
You plan a meal and can’t find a package-free option for the last ingredient…
plastic will find its way to creep back in! 

The most important thing is that you’ve set up your pantry to make it as easy as possible to avoid plastic when you can. If you’ve ended up with plastic waste, repurpose it or recycle it if you can, shed the guilt, and get back to making plastic-free choices. 

Enjoy creating a pantry you’re proud of, and leaves you inspired to stock up, refill, and cook from scratch. Perhaps the dinner parties will be on you this year? (or maybe you’ll be whipping up tasty treats just for you - you deserve it, after all!). 

Good luck from us - you’ve got this!

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