How to make your kitchen eco-friendly & low waste while being functional
By: Arpita Banerjee
The kitchen is one of the material dense places of our home and a lot of waste tends to generate in the kitchen so, I want to introduce you to simple shifts you can make to feel less overwhelmed but utterly satisfied.
Sustainably Conscious is a place where you will get low waste, energy saving, affordable Eco-friendly solutions for your home, let’s start with the kitchen here, take one step at a time by choosing a list of things that can transform your normal kitchen into sustainably functional one with practice and patience.
1. Ditch your usual paper towels to cloth towels for cleaning and other usages, if the need be use towels made of recycled paper or bamboo fibers- In India as of now, the per capita consumption of tissue paper is on the lower side, it is at 123 grams as compared to other countries. It is because Indians majorly use cloth napkins in the kitchen, water instead of toilet paper, and hand towel instead of paper towel rolls.
In other countries, it is much more. In India, there is a rise in demand for paper towel and toilet paper, therefore it’s important to make the consequences clear and not to step forward in that direction rather start implementing what’s native to us and let others follow.
2. Replace all your plastic shrink wraps with beeswax wraps, silicone covers, muslin cloth or simply use an airtight container- Plastic shrink wraps are polluting as well as not good for handling food. It’s a thin film plastic made up of synthetic chemicals, non-recyclable in nature and contributes to the major plastic pollution crisis.
The best switch for these would be beeswax wrap that can be washed and used multiple times, alternatively using silicone caps will help to cover different size bowls as they are adjustable, washable therefore serve as a sustainable option in the long run.
3. Opt for eco-friendly dish wash liquid, powder, or soaps- Ditch cleaners and dish wash liquids packed with a list of harmful chemicals that are polluting our waterways by household and industrial sources as well causing respiratory diseases, skin diseases, etc., because of its composition and its one of the causes for foaming of Yamuna river, many such rivers are getting severely polluted rather switch to natural cleaners which uses vegetable or fruit extract and safe to use naturally occurring chemicals which does the job efficiently and doesn’t harm our body and environment in any which way.
4. Ditch those yellow sponge and green scrubs- that are made up of polyester and polyurethane respectively making it non-recyclable, non-biodegradable. These are made using chemical dyes that not only depend on oil-based industries but also clog waterways, pollute soils being discarded in the landfills. Switch to natural scrubs made out of coconut coir, vegetable remains bamboo or dead natural sea sponge.
5. Add a compost bin in your kitchen- Throwing away kitchen waste such as vegetable and fruit peels, and another organic waste is a huge contributor of greenhouse gas methane while left to rot in huge quantities in landfills. Composting can divert a huge amount of waste from landfills while turning it into organic fertilizer for your vegetable and flower garden.
This compost will be rich in necessary macro & micronutrients which will make up healthy and nutritious soil for your garden. So, many kinds of composting equipment are available in the Indian market suitable for independent house owners, apartments with large or small balcony etc.
6. If you are fan of tea concoction– add a tea leaf infuser to your kitchen essentials. Buy loose tea leaf i.e., without tea bags (as it is known to leach microplastics in your tea and those bags are again non-recyclable or biodegradable) which piles up with everyday use or choose buy in bulk thereby using less packaging.
And if you are a coffee lover- you can opt for a French press if you use single-use coffee filters/pods every day for making your coffee runs sustainable. You can also use a French press for preparing tea concoction (green tea, chamomile tea, hibiscus tea, etc.,)
7. Keep reusable bags handy– Be it a cotton tote bag, jute bag, heavy bottom bag, along with several produce bags. Keep all of these in a specific place in your kitchen and make it a point to carry these bags for grocery shopping or going to farmers’ markets. For those who keep forgetting their bags, keep some spare bags in your car, or in the storage box of your two-wheeler or in your cycle’s basket if you prefer to ride one.
Actively encourage the vendor to not give off plastic bags casually and have a conversation about its problem.
8. Cooking utensils and tableware- by now you must have acknowledged the problem with plastic in our life. Now let’s talk about harmful kitchenware. Non-stick cookware’s, utensils with Teflon coating are the worst among all, you should never cook on utensils with scratched coating. Repurpose it or upcycle it in whichever way you like, alternatively you can sell it off to metal collectors.
Most Indian homes use aluminum utensils, though it is not all bad or good, using different metals for cooking prevents excess intake of any one type of metal thus prevent excess accumulation. The best cooking utensil is clay pats and pons as well as cast iron skillets, pans, etc. after that comes ceramic cookware’s and then comes stainless steel and aluminum with steel coating.
9. Replace your plastic containers with glass jars, stainless steel canisters, ceramic containers, wooden or bamboo jars- that being said don’t ditch all your plastic jars or Tupperware’s just now, use what you have and phase out slowly which replacing them with the above-mentioned options. Keep in mind to not use plastic containers to microwave or store food when it’s hot. Plastic is the worst product to carry or store food as it leaches harmful chemicals and its prolonged use can have a detrimental effect on our health.
10. Don’t store water in plastic containers– use a steel or other metal can for storing water or use clay pots (traditional or modern ones). These don’t alter the composition of water in a bad way and help in keeping it in pure form for consumption.
As always go for local stores first, the recommendation is for ideas about what kind of things I am talking about and if you do like any of them, go for it.
These swaps will help divert half of the waste off landfill right from our home, to get better with recycling and reuse have a connection with kabaddi walas in your neighborhood and ask them what materials are accepted for recycle and they will certainly tell you what they know which will in turn act as a guideline for which kind of plastics you can still bring in if the alternative is not easily available or affordable.
(Check out Arpita’s blog here)
I am Arpita Banerjee an Indian sustainability blogger, creator of sustainablyconsciouslife, on my blog I talk about living a simple, conscious and low waste life & advocate for environmental justice. I make digestible content around sustainable fashion, travel and lifestyle and advice people how to train your mind to start on this journey.Know More