The Low Waste Kitchen
Let's start with a list of sustainable materials so we know what to look for!
Bamboo is a fast-growing grass that self-regenerates and requires zeros fertilizer! Isn't that awesome? Bamboo is a super plant, requiring little water and no pesticides.
Cork is also another super plant. The cork tree does not need to be cut down to obtain the cork. Once the cork has been harvested it begins to regenerate itself. In fact, harvested cork trees absorb 3-5 more CO2 and helps offset 10 million tons of carbon each year.
Stoneware is incredibly resistant and isn't affected by temperature change or water. It is also toxin-free, fireproof and low-maintenance.
Did you know enamel is made by fusing powdered glass? No? Me either... Enamel is 100% natural, making it 100% recyclable! Bonus: It's also scratch-resistant!
Stainless steel is also 100% recyclable and can be remade into various products without reduction is quality!
Copper can also be recycled continuously while maintaining its integrity.
Iron is the fourth most common element in the Earth crust, making iron fully recyclable! When recycled and reused it eliminates the release of greenhouse gasses and can actually help decrease the production of carbon dioxide!
Glass from start to finish is fully sustainable and actually one of the most recyclable materials on the planet. It does not release any toxins when it is made or broken down and even when it is not recycled, it causes very minimal harm to the environment.
Cellulose is derived from plants and uses minimal energy to produce and is 100% biodegradable, leaving nothing behind!
Although silicon can not be easily broken down, unlike plastic it is extremely durable and non-toxic. Plastic eventually breakdowns into dangerous microplastic pieces that end up in our oceans and are nearly impossible to filter out.
Now onto the wish list!
Sponge Cloths are made of a pulp cellulose and cotton composition, making them 100% biodegradable! I like to use my Sponge Cloth to wipe down my countertops in place of paper towels but they can also be used to wash dishes. They are delicate enough to be used on your fine glassware but durable enough to tackle pots and pans. Sponge Cloths can last 6-12 months depending on use and can replace more than 17 rolls of paper towel!
Copper wire sponges are great for scrubbing stubborn, stuck-on food and unlike traditional sponges are recyclable! They are incredibly inexpensive and can be purchased package free. For my fellow Canadian shoppers, I purchased my 10 pack at HomeSense for $4.99!
When it comes to wet dishes and wet food, I get a little...squeamish. I don't know why, I can explain it but this Reddecker dish brush has made all the difference in my dishwashing routine. I was first introduced to this by Christen and I quickly added it to my sink-side essentials. The handle is made of Beech wood and is equipped with a convenient steel hook for easy storage.
If you prefer liquid soap our friends at The Bare Home have an amazingly scented collection! The bottle is glass (and super cute) making it reusable + recyclable! The Bare Home also supplies 3L refills that come conveniently packaged in a biodegradable box.
The soap block at first will take getting used to. Especially if you love suds. This one by Corktown Soaps was also introduced to me by Christen and I found that it still does lather quite a bit! Ps, we've included this in our Plastic Free July Giveaway so be sure to enter!
Our XL Sponge Cloth makes the perfect drying mat! I keep this under my dish rack to help soak up the runoff water. I also love to use our Large Sponge Cloth to wipe down my dining table in one easy swoop!
We've gotten many questions about this adorable dish rack! It can be found at Ikea. I use this to dry my Beeswax Wraps and Sponge Cloths when they are not in use. I currently don't have a dishwasher, so my countertop quickly fills up with drying dishes! I've found that this Bamboo Double Decker Dish Rack has helped free up a ton of space + is completely plastic-free!
Oven + Stove Top Essentials
I used to go through rolls and rolls of parchment paper until I was introduced to Silpat! Silpat is made of high-quality silicone and extremely durable and long-lasting (I've had mine for 8 years so far). They come in a variety of sizes and offer specific mats for pizzas and macaroons! I currently have three for baking and fourth for fondant rolling! Cake decorating tip: the fondant doesn't stick and lifting the mat allows you to easily cover a cake without tearing your fondant.
Pots and Pans
I know pots and pans can get pricy but I would recommend purchasing 3 quality staples to start. Although Teflon needs to be heated to over 500 degrees to become dangerous, over time it can start to peel off your pans and release toxic chemicals. I would say my 3 staples are an enamelled, cast iron Dutch Oven for soups, stews, sauces and breads. A Wok, for stir fry, shallow frying and steaming, and a stainless steel Sauce Pan for sauces, pasta and rice. When it comes to pans I really don't stick to any rules. I use my Wok to make Risotto and find that it works best (depending on the quantity). A quality pan will last you a lifetime which means less waste!
A kitchen staple through and through! These trivets have saved my countertops, tabletops and doubled as a coaster when needed! They can be washed and spot treated and also have a handy hook for easy storing.
In My Tool Kit
I swear by wooden spoons and spatulas! Not only are they super eco-friendly but they won't scratch your pans! Alternatively, if you prefer stainless steel, I would recommend this beautiful collection witch comes with a wooden handle. I have yet to purchase a knife set but am on the hunt for anything with a wooden handle.
I recently stopped by St Jacobs Antique Market and fell in love with everything enamel. Since then I have been on the hunt for enamel kitchen tools to add to my collection. I recently purchased these beautiful enamel measuring spoons from our friends at Wills and Prior and currently on the hunt for measuring cups!
I was recently gifted a beautiful wood cutting board which I will keep on display but for everyday use will stick to my bamboo cutting board. Bamboo grows so quickly and is incredibly durable.
For meat, I prefer to use a glass cutting board, this way I can be sure that it is squeaky clean after washing and can be thoroughly disinfected. Keep in mind this may dull out even the sharpest knife after a while, but it is one of the most sanitary options for cutting meat due to its low porosity.
This colander is what originally caught my eye at the antique market!! #adulting? I really would have loved the cobalt blue but it was slightly damaged so I ended up purchasing the light blue.
Drawer + Cabinet Organization
Finally, I have purchased these glass containers in hopes that I will be able to find everything I need in bulk! Although I've heard that Barilla has stopped producing pasta boxes with plastic windows!
Do you currently have a warped, plastic utensil organizer like I do? Unfortunately, this is a very old purchase and I have since found alternatives. These bamboo drawer organizers have been a huge help in the kitchen, bathroom and dresser drawers!
What I've learned is that if it is (sustainably) sourced from the Earth, it can most likely, with minimal environmental impact, be recycled.
Small changes make a huge difference in the long run. I hope to one day pass down these values, standards and purchasing habits to my children and work towards a greener world!
Would you be interested in a bathroom edition? Let us know below!