It’s becoming more and more apparent that garbage is a growing issue, and only grows more with every item we throw in the bin.  In an effort to reduce waste, many are choosing to live a zero waste lifestyle, which involves households throwing away as little as is physically possible. Now, we’ve all seen videos of people presenting their year’s worth of garbage contained in an itty bitty Mason jar, and that’s fantastic; but for the average human being, producing such a tiny amount of waste just isn’t feasible. Making small changes in your home, however, can lead to a world of difference!

Your kitchen is most likely the largest contributor to your household waste; this also means that your kitchen is where you can start to make the most positive change! Check out the tips below to get you started on the long and winding path to zero waste.

Invest in some good Tupperware.

Plastic is convenient – that is, until you realize where it all ends up. Use up your last few plastic Ziploc bags and say goodbye to them forever! If you don’t have some already, invest in good Tupperware. Glass containers are microwave safe and will typically last you the longest (unless, of course, you have a family like mine who make it a habit of dropping things). Looking to save money? Containers like pickle jars, large yogurt containers, and of course, the infamous Mason jar are all great options for keeping your food fresh without contributing to a landfill. As you’ll only have to buy your Tupperware once, you’ll be amazed at the money you’ll save when you aren’t wasting it on Ziploc bags, saran wrap, tin foil, and other kinds of plastic. If you’re looking to just cover a bowl or other container, swap saran wrap/tin foil for Abeego (https://canada.abeego.com/), the reusable beeswax food wrap. You can cover whatever you want with this clever food wrap; after you’re done, simply wash and reuse!

Skip the plastic cutlery at your next party and use your household forks and knives.

Too many guests for your regular set? It’s easy to find cheap sets of cutlery in thrift shops, dollar stores, and at places like Value Village. While disposable cutlery seems convenient, cutlery is almost always an easy cleaning job; if you happen to have a dishwasher, it’s quick and easy to toss it all in and let it do the cleaning for you!

Say no to plastic straws.

These plastic tubes, along with other small plastics often find their way to the ocean where they are ingested by marine life. If you like to use straws at home, try out non-plastic alternatives like metal or compostable straws, or try to stop using them altogether.

Ditch the paper towels.

There’s no disputing that paper towels are convenient, but they also happen to be expensive in the long run. Dish rags, towels, even old t-shirts are all great for cleaning up after dinner, and, most importantly, they’re reusable. The same goes for using cloth as opposed to paper napkins.

Bring reusable bags with you to the grocery store.

Sometimes I even reuse plastic bags from previous grocery trips – they’re easy to toss in your purse/backpack and take up less room than your average reusable bag (though reusable bags are much sturdier and can hold more). You can also take it a step further – either skip the plastic produce bags altogether (i.e. for fruits or vegetables with a rind) or bring your own reusable produce bags like the ones linked here https://www.amazon.ca/Planet-Reusable-Mesh-Produce-Bags/dp/B013H3DN9Q/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1526344124&sr=8-4&keywords=reusable+produce+bag. Some grocery stores also sell reusable produce bags, so keep an eye out the next time you’re shopping!

Buy in bulk.

While Mississauga doesn’t have many options for zero waste grocery shopping, your local Bulk Barn is a great spot to load up on items like pasta, cereal, baking ingredients, spices, snacks, pet food, and even cleaning products. Bring your own containers and have nothing to throw away afterwards!

Never buy another plastic water bottle again.

While water bottles are recyclable, a startling amount of these plastic containers find their way to a landfill. Mississauga’s tap water is a great alternative, but if you’re still thirsting for some filtered water, try using a Brita in your kitchen! You only need to change the filter every 2-3 months, so there’s much less garbage to throw away. Most importantly, invest in a good reusable water bottle for when you’re out and about. Many establishments are happy to fill up your water bottle – just look for the blue W sticker in the window of your favourite stores and have your container filled for free! Check out who’s supporting this awesome initiative here http://www.bluew.org/.

At the end of the day, it’s nearly impossible to have a completely zero waste kitchen, so there’s no need to stress too much about throwing some things away. Even following just a couple tips from this article is a great way to become a more conscious consumer as you learn to reduce your waste!