8 Simple Zero-Waste Swaps In The Kitchen That Can Save You Money!

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

Did you ever wonder how you could take steps to eliminate single-use waste in your kitchen? Thankfully it’s easy to find simple zero-waste kitchen swaps. 

Following is a list of single-use items I no longer buy. Using reusable counterparts I’ve been able to reduce or even eliminate completely these disposable items and save money too. 

I'm working on eliminating single use waste with these simple zero-waste kitchen swaps. It's remarkably easy to do & can save money too. #TexasHomesteader

(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)

Setting An Eco example For Others To See

Recently while entertaining family members for supper, my sister saw me incorporating several zero-waste efforts as I prepared the meal. She exclaimed “Oh wow, I would have never thought to do that!”

It got me thinking, maybe I should share the various ways I’m able to reduce (or even eliminate) those single-use items in my kitchen. 

Now I know not all of these zero-waste swaps will be new to you. And depending upon the circumstances in your home, not all will even be feasible.

But I’ve learned that since we are all on different places in this simple-life path – there’s bound to be something for everyone in this list.

No More Paper Towels

I haven’t bought paper towels (with their disposable plastic encasements) in well over 10 years now.

Here’s what we use instead. Old clean, soft cotton t-shirts cut to size. 

Replace paper towels with t-shirt rags. I'm working on eliminating single use waste in my kitchen. It's remarkably easy to do, and it can save money too. What's not to love? #TexasHomesteader

      • Cut Old T-Shirt Into Paper Towel Sized Squares.

      • Cotton T-Shirt Material Doesn’t unravel Or Have To Be Hemmed.

      • Lightweight and Reusable. For YEARS!

      • No Paper Towel Purchases (Or The Plastic It’s Sold In)

Paper Napkins For Cloth Napkins

Speaking of paper, since we went paperless in our kitchen we’ve been using solely cloth napkins for several decades now.

REDUCING TRASH IN THE KITCHEN to make a huge impact in reducing the amount of landfill trash spilling from your home. It's EASY! #TexasHomesteader

      • Cloth Napkins Replace Disposable Paper Napkins.

      • Can Be Purchased Cheaply At Thrift Stores/Garage Sales.

      • No Extra Laundry – Can Be Washed With Regular Laundry.

      • Cloth Napkins Last For Years. Some of ours for 20 years and counting!

      • Can Make Cloth Napkins Yourself  (My  red/white gingham napkins from a $1 thrifted tablecloth.)

      • No More Buying And Throwing Away Disposable Napkins Over & Over Again.

When Visitors Need A Paper Napkin In A Paperless Kitchen

Occasionally a visitor asks wide-eyed “you don’t have ANY paper napkins??” LOL.

So I save that one or two wayward extra unused paper napkins that would have been thrown away when we occasionally stop for a quick burger.

Then I bring them home & tuck them into a container in my cabinets. 

Paper napkins in a paperless kitchen - how I acquire free napkins. #TexasHomesteader

That way when someone asks to wrap something in a paper napkin to take home with them for instance, I can offer one to them.

Eco-Friendly Choice: No More Paper Plates

Now don’t get me wrong, there are times that paper plates might make sense for you. No judgement here!

But our meals are always served on honest-to-goodness real plates, glasses and flatware. Even when we have a large family gathering I’m pulling out the real stuff.  

Using real dishes eliminates the waste of paper or foam plates, disposable utensils and cups. #TexasHomesteader

      • Real Dishes Make Simple Meals Feel More Fancy.

      • Basic White Dishes Go With Any Décor & Can Be Dressed Up Too.

      • Reusable Dinnerware More Sturdy Than Flimsy Disposable Paper/Styrofoam Plates. 

Ease In Cleaning Real Plates

 I realize every household has their own limitations with time, money, etc,. Not everyone has a dishwasher, and not everyone likes to do dishes. Believe me, I get it.

But we have a dishwasher and we put it to use. So cleaning those plates & dinnerware is as easy as scrape-load-push a button and walk away.

Substitutes For Aluminum Foil

I still have an older box of aluminum foil stored away in the kitchen cabinet for use when necessary. But it will last me several years because I very seldom use it.  

A vintage flat lid on top of a springform pan in a pressure cooker can save single-use foil use. #TexasHomesteader

Disposable Plastic Wrap Swaps

Occasionally I’ll store the rest of our leftover supper in the microwave safe glass bowl I’d served it in. But I don’t need plastic wrap to cover it.

There’s no telling how much single-use plastic wrap I’ve eliminated over the years. There are several zero-waste ways to cover food:

Beeswax wraps replace plastic wrap. I'm working on eliminating single use waste in my kitchen. It's remarkably easy to do, and it can save money too. What's not to love? #TexasHomesteader

Beeswax Wrap Note: Now wax melts with heat. So I’m careful not to wrap my beeswax wraps around anything that would require scrubbing with hot water (such as raw meats or greasy items.)

But for wrapping up a leftover bowl of corn or green beans, a block of cheese, handful of raw carrots, etc. it’s awesome!

Eliminate Plastic Water Bottles

Single-Use disposable water bottles are a large part of overall plastic waste. But RancherMan & I have heavily  *insulated tumblers that we use for hydration when out & about. 

We’ll fill it with ice and then add filtered water in the morning. Then we take it with us when we’re out running errands. 

Insulated tumbler filled with ice and filtered water eliminate disposable water bottles. I'm working on eliminating single use waste with these simple zero-waste kitchen swaps. It's remarkably easy to do & can save money too. #TexasHomesteader

Sometimes that tumbler of water sits in the hot car while we’re inside shopping. But there’s still ice in it when we get back to the car. Even in the Texas summer heat!

There’s no need for us to stop & buy cold water in a disposable plastic bottle. Saves money AND the environment.

Other Easy Zero-Waste Kitchen Swaps:

No Styrofoam Egg Cartons

I’ve always hated the Styrofoam egg cartons. But when people pass them on to me I’ll reuse them to sell our free range chicken’s eggs.

My family often saves cardboard egg cartons for me for reuse too. I use them to make Fire Starters for RancherMan. 

Homemade fire starters from cardboard egg cartons and wax. #TexasHomesteader

But when my chickens are laying, this wire basket in the fridge is really the only thing I need. 

Styrofoam egg cartons not needed with my own hens & this wire basket. #TexasHomesteader

Eliminating Items Purchased In Plastic Tubs – Yogurt

Making yogurt was the very first eco step I took when I started my simple-life journey. I hated all those disposable plastic tubs in which my beloved yogurt was sold.

I started making Homemade Stove-Top Yogurt every week or so since then (and it’s been decades). 

Homemade yogurt in reusable glass jars is easy. #TexasHomesteader

Then I discovered the even easier Instant Pot Yogurt method. Now it’s even easier to keep our fridge stocked with homemade yogurt. And there are no plastic tubs to throw away since I put them in single-serve reusable mason jars.

Don’t Expect Perfection

OK, you do your best but still need to use something disposable sometimes, right? There’s no need in beating yourself up over it.

But here’s the thing – oftentimes it’s easy eliminate the disposable plastic for a reusable glass counterpart. Or repurpose something for an entirely different (but equally convenient) substitution.

I’m hoping to inspire you to eliminate single use waste in your home with some of these zero-waste kitchen swaps. But baby steps are good too. What are your favorite was to reduce waste in your own kitchen?


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4 thoughts on “8 Simple Zero-Waste Swaps In The Kitchen That Can Save You Money!

  1. Rebecca Houchin

    We have also eliminated paper napkins and use very few paper towels. My problem is what to use to drain the grease off of foods such as bacon and sausage. I still us paper towels for this. I don’t want to put that grease into my washing machine if I use any kind of cloth. Suggestions?

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I use black/white newsprint newspaper, which I understand these days is printed with soy ink. We don’t subscribe to a newspaper but there’s always some sort of newspaper being left in our mailbox, those are saved. Some I use for my composter but when I need to drain greasy food I pull out a few sheets and use that instead of paper towels. ~TxH~

  2. Laurinda

    One of my biggest waste areas was sponges to wash my dishes (no dishwasher here) Once I picked up knitting though, I started making little thick cloths that mimic the small sponges i preferred! I have a lingerie bag to throw them in, & I wash them with my linens. Easy peasy!
    Then my husband copied a Pin that shows how to run a tube from the built-in dispenser right to the large jug. No giant jug on the counter, less work to refill.
    I have the viili culture, so I can make my yogurt on the counter top (in reused jelly jars, of course )
    I do still have paper towels, but they’re used for pet accidents

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I love that you’re making your own sponges Laurinda. I tried to teach myself to knit so I could do that, but, well, it did not go well! I may try to learn knitting again during the winter months – I’d love to be able to! And I love your idea about bypassing the dispenser to the large jug too, as well as your other zero-waste victories. Aren’t you clever?? ~TxH~


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