by Texas Homesteader ~
As much as I hate it, plastic is EVERYWHERE! Replacing plastic with an eco-friendly option doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Come see 7 easy ways I’ve been able to reduce plastic in our kitchen, mostly for FREE!
I’ve been on a quest for many years to reduce as much plastic from our home as I can. But it’s almost impossible to completely eliminate – plastic is EVERYWHERE!
So I’ve decided when it comes into our home, I’ll USE it in its entirety instead of buying more plastic.
But luckily there are ways I’ve been able to significantly reduce the amount of plastic that I use in my kitchen. It’s often cheaper too since many times I’m using things I already have on hand to do it.
Refuse To Buy Plastic
Of course the first and most important thing is refusing items that come in plastic whenever you can.
When possible I go to the bulk fruit bins to buy my fruit instead of a bag of apples. And It goes without saying that plastic dishes and cutlery aren’t allowed in my kitchen.
But there are many other ways to remove plastic from the kitchen.
Replacing Plastic Food Storage For FREE
I’ve written before about storing food in glass jars in the fridge. This eliminates the need for plastic food containers. I often use repurposed glass jars to replace those old stained plastic food storage containers I used to have.
Plus glass makes it easy to see the food they contain. So leftovers are eaten promptly and not wasted.
In many cases it makes it possible to store, heat & eat in the same container! Here’s a snapshot of my refrigerator:
Say “NO” To Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags
I’ve refused paper AND plastic shopping bags from retail establishments for years. Well before it was the vogue environmentally-friendly thing to do I was saying “No thanks” to bringing home more plastic.
Fabric Bags: It’s very easy for me to remember my fabric bags when I go to the store since they’re always in the trunk of my car. Plus they’re so much easier to carry than those flimsy plastic bags since the fabric bag’s straps are long enough to go over my shoulder.
Woven Basket: And I recently acquired a handmade basket that replaces plastic shopping bags for those quick stops too.
Plus the basket holds my soon-to-be-purchases for me while I’m shopping.
I’m constantly talking about the Reaction To My Basket while shopping. Everyone I meet loves it. And so do I!
By using this cute basket (and the canvas bags for larger purchases) I haven’t had to bring home disposable plastic shopping bags for years!
Learn To Make It Yourself
I’ve written before how this plastic-free journey started for me with my morning yogurt.
I’d been frustrated that I couldn’t even recycle those plastic tubs my yogurt was sold in because our city didn’t accept that kind of plastic.
So I decided to learn to make my own homemade yogurt and found out it was deceptively easy. Since I make my yogurt in single-serve and reusable 1/2-pint canning jars there’s no plastic necessary!
It’s not just yogurt I’ve learned to make. I’ve also made vinegar out of pineapple scraps (it’s delicious). Plus I strive to preserve much of our garden produce by canning or dehydrating. All that garden goodness is stored in glass jars in my pantry.
Plastic-Free Compostable Scrub Sponge
Here’s one of my favorite eco-friendly kitchen swaps. Luffa Scrub Sponges I grow in my garden!
That’s right, I grow my own luffa in the garden each year. Then I bring in the mature luffa and peel them. Sometimes I’ll leave them cylindrical but most of the time I’ll cut away the core and make a kitchen scrub sponge.
When it’s done hard duty in the kitchen and it’s time to replace it, I simply toss the old one in the compost bucket and bring out a fresh one. How’s THAT for easy, cheap and eco friendly??
Think Outside The Box For Trash-Bag Needs
I haven’t bought actual trash bags for over a decade. No, really! Since our trash output is so miniscule, our kitchen waste basket is tiny. So there’s always something I can use for a liner.
For instance, I may carefully open the family pack of toilet paper (which is shrink wrapped in a large piece of plastic) to preserve the bag.
Then I use that bag to line our trash bin.
Or maybe I’ll shake out an empty family-sized cereal bag & use that instead. See what I mean? Easy!
There’s always something I can use to line the wastebasket without buying actual trash bags. It’s a double score since it often comes free with something I’ve purchased.
And that plastic wrapping is intended to be immediately thrown away. Might as well put it to another use first!
If You’ve Got Plastic – Use It Up!
But still those plastic shopping bags often make their way into our home through visitors bringing things and leaving them behind. Sometimes I use them in our tiny kitchen wastebasket since that’s the only size we require.
But I don’t want to accumulate them. So if they begin to accumulate I’ll smooth those bags out, stack them neatly and send them to our local food pantry, who can repurpose them for their clients.
Plastic Food Wrap
What about plastic wrap? I haven’t bought the cling-wrap stuff in years.
As a beekeeper I’m always looking for ways to use products of the hive. I’ve made beeswax wraps by melting beeswax from our hive onto a cute patterned lightweight cotton-blend cloth.
NOTE: I sometimes sell natural beeswax wraps on my Online Store Here, along with other handmade items. Feel free to check it out!
But as I mentioned above, plastic still occasionally finds its way into our home. So when it does I’m also able to put it to a second use as well.
For instance, although I try to keep RancherMan supplied in the homemade bread he loves, there are times when things are just too busy to make bread. So occasionally we’ll buy a loaf of sandwich bread.
But when we have to purchase bread and the bag is emptied, I’ll shake out any crumbs and fold it neatly and tuck it into a box where I store them.
When I need a plastic food bag to separate serving-sizes after I’ve used the Cook-Once, Eat-Twice method of cooking, these repurposed bags help separate the servings.
I then add a description on a piece of paper and slide it into a previously-used zippered freezer bag along with these separate bagged servings.
Then I place the whole thing in the freezer. Food doesn’t get stored in our freezer long so I’ve never had a problem with freezer burn.
Covering Food In The Refrigerator
But what about thawing food? I’ve found a way around plastic for that too.
When looking through the freezer recently I spied a bag labeled “Grilled Pork Steaks”. I thought that would be delicious to enjoy for tomorrow’s supper. So I pulled two serving sizes from the bag and placed the frozen steak portions on a plate.
I topped them with an inverted bowl, the way I’d seen my grandmother do a thousand times when I was a child. Into the fridge it goes to thaw overnight and throughout the day tomorrow.
When It’s time to eat all that needs to be done is to heat the steaks, whip up a couple of veggie sides such as a Roasted Vegetable Medley a and maybe some Buttered Rice with Sage & Garlic and dinner is served in a flash!
These are a few ways I’ve dodged adding plastic to my kitchen. They’re simple to do and for the most part absolutely free. That makes our budget as well as my crunchy-green heart happy!
I don’t know if I’ll ever be totally plastic free. But at least when it does come into our home I’m able to use it fully before disposing of it.
However, I’m still striving every day to become more & more plastic free. What are your favorite tips for going plastic-free in your kitchen?
Posts About Reducing Plastic
- Reducing Plastic Is Easy
- I Love Mother Nature So I Recycle LESS!
- 7 Ways To Reduce Plastic In The Kitchen
- Ditch The Plastic! Using Glass In The Refrigerator
- Natural Air Freshener In Reusable Glass Jar
- Reducing Plastic In Personal Hygiene: Deodorant
- No More Plastic Razors – How To Use A Safety Razor
- Where Exactly Is ‘Away’?
- Replacing Plastic Wrap With Beeswax Wraps
- Eliminate Plastic Produce Bags
- Growing Your Own Plastic-Free Scrub Sponge
Zero-Waste Health & Beauty
- Zero-Waste Shaving Using A Safety Razor
- Low-Waste Snap Toothbrushes
- Homemade Minty Mouthwash
- Quick & Easy Homemade Deodorant
- MYO Light & Sheer Face Powder
- 3-Ingredient Beeswax Lip Balm
- Homemade Vanilla-Scented Shampoo Bar Soap
- 3-Ingredient DRY SHAMPOO Mix
- Homemade Hairspray
- MYO Naturally-Scented Hair Conditioner
- Morning Motivation Mint Soap
- Homemade Soap: Lavender/Rosemary
- Soap Grows On TREES! Soapberry Shampoo
- How A Bidet Can Be An Eco Win
- Favorite Zero-Waste Health & Beauty Swaps
Reducing Household Waste
- Repurposing Empty Coffee Containers
- Denim Repurposed Into Fun Crafts
- 5 Zero-Waste Products We Love
- Easily Reduce Or Eliminate Junkmail
- Making Your Own Pourable Sugar Jar
- Paper Napkins In A Paperless Kitchen
- Repurposing A Parmesan Cheese Lid
- Zero-Waste Shaving
- Natural Cleaning – Homemade Laundry Detergent
…and Many More
All Eco-Friendly Posts
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I have lots of cloth bags. They were very “in Vogue” in the eighties and nineties up here in Washington State. Then I went to Georgia and I’d go into the stores with them and be followed by security so I slowed down using them, and by the time I got to Texas it was hit-or-miss whether I had them when I went to the store. Then my son told me about the law that was passed up here in Tacoma before I moved back. Sooo I dug them out again (some of which are over 20 years old) but they’re the good old fashion canvas kind. I do have some that are the cheap $0.99 ones which don’t last too long and especially after you wash them. I had planned on making bags for everyone at Christmas time but my sewing machine is still in storage although I do have a large selection of nice heavy fabric that I found at the second hand stores (the first of which was down there at my sister’s closet down there). After getting it home I couldn’t think of what to do with it until my son told me about the new law up here. Sorry about the rambling, I miss all you guys, though.
Homemade cloth bags would be an awesome gift Nancy. Maybe next year? I got around feeling uncomfortable carrying around my cloth bags in several ways: First, I have a heavy plastic sleeve I’ve had for about a decade – seems like it was from an old umbrella package or something. Anyway, I roll my cloth bag & place it in that & keep it tucked beneath the seat of the car. It keeps my bag clean while it’s in the car and I just tuck it under my arm when I’m walking around the store. But NOW I have my favorite handmade basket & it’s so wide open that I don’t worry about it at all, I just carry it around using it to hold my purchases until I go to the checkout counter. But when I’m doing heavier shopping I still take a bag of several bags & place them in my cart (which obviously I’d need because I’ll be buying more than I can carry this time). Using those methods I’ve not felt like the shop owners had to keep an eye on me. Glad things are going well for you Nancy! ~TxH~
I absolutely agree with your post and the replies. One thing I have found since reducing plastic is that not everything needs a lid. I think I got caught up in the ‘plastic food storage craze’- if a container came with a lid, then you used it. Sometimes it’s not necessary AND it creates extra dishes.
Also, I broke down and bought some silicone quart size bags. They can lay flat in the freezer, be dropped into boiling water to cook the contents or used in the microwave. So far they have worked beautifully and haven’t stained or leaked.
Thanks for this. Several things you mentioned are new to me and several others we already do. Always looking to add to my list. Your take on covering food in the fridge is similar to mine. I have several large mixing bowls that are perfect for use, but didn’t come with a lid/cover. I found that I could lay a salad plate or a dinner plate (depending on the size of the bowl) on top of the bowl for a cover that is almost air-tight. Works great when I want to chill cookie dough.
These are all such great ideas! I never thought to use toilet paper shrink wrap plastic as a trash can liner, but I will never see it as trash itself again! You are right about using mason jars for storage in the fridge and freezer…labels are rarely needed because you can SEE what’s in the jar! Thanks for all your ideas. Happy Thanksgiving!