Reducing your environmental impact is never a destination; it’s an ongoing journey. Especially with changing your lifestyle to be more zero-waste, you’ll find there’s always something you hadn’t thought about that can use improvement.

Making your household more zero-waste is a great way to put your lifestyle in line with your values, but where to start? The kitchen is one of the biggest waste-producing culprits. These five sources of waste in your kitchen are the perfect place to get your green on.

Food Waste

No discussion about going zero-waste, especially in the kitchen, is complete without addressing food waste. Sadly, we throw out a massive amount of food — nearly 40% — and it creates harmful greenhouses gases during decomposition.

Reducing your food waste can be tackled from many angles, from buying less in bulk and being more selective with your shopping to beginning a composting practice to give decomposable items back to the earth in a healthy way. Reducing food waste also means taking a hard look at how you store your food. This guide to food storage might surprise you (we guarantee you’re incorrectly storing your eggs).


The non-reusable items that make up so much of our grocery shopping and kitchen wares are one of the significant sources of waste to address. Start with getting some great reusable shopping bags, and you’ll already be cutting down the amount of plastic bags we inevitably seeing aimlessly floating down roads.

The next level of using reusables in your kitchen is shopping from bulk stores and bringing your own container. Instead of filling those flimsy one-use-only plastic bags with your grain staples at Whole Foods, get a mason jar or any old reusable container you can use to cut out that plastic middleman. Check out this reusable 7-pack of muslin bags for your produce.

Cleaning Tools

Kitchen cleaning tools are my pet peeve. These are super easy to replace with reusable and compostable items that will be way better quality, more aesthetically pleasing, and a better investment overall. Instead of continually tossing out sponges when they get nasty, try something like this fully compostable scrubber.

Paper Towels

Another source of waste in our kitchens that can be a little more challenging to curb is our paper towel habit. I say habit because that’s really all it is, most of us are used to using paper towels to do any mild cleaning when a reusable fabric towel would suffice. Another option is a cool zero-waste invention that’s basically a regular paper towel roll replaced with washable fabric sheets. It just takes a little adjusting to train yourself only to use paper towels when the mess is something you wouldn’t or couldn’t wash out.


Part of the charm of going zero-waste is realizing how many things you can make for yourself without ever having to buy an outside product that likely has questionable, unnecessary added ingredients and comes in a plastic bottle—things like counter cleaners, soaps, and even bleach.