Cutting Waste in the Kitchen

There are many ways to lower the waste your home accumulates. Follow these 11 tips for cutting waste in the kitchen and help protect our Earth.

There are so many ways you can try to cut waste in the kitchen, besides just watching how much food you waste. Have you taken a look at how much is thrown in the garbage can in your kitchen daily? I know some people who have to take out their garbage every night. Every night! That means 7 bags of garbage per week!

We aren’t perfect and are working on cutting down the waste in our kitchen on a daily basis. But as of now, we typically have only 1-2 garbage bags per week for our entire home. This includes the trash from the office, bathrooms, kitchen, bedrooms, cat litter, everything! And we are still working on ways to cut that down even more.

Most household waste comes from the kitchen, from what I have noticed. Think about it, how many things do you throw away when you are preparing a meal?

And if you have children, you can still strive for cutting waste in the kitchen. If you teach them young, they don’t know anything different.

Originally Published On: September 14, 2017

Last Updated On: April 20, 2020

Cutting Waste in the Kitchen

Recycle

  • Many things get thrown in the trash that can be recycled, such as glass, paper towel rolls, cereal boxes, etc.
  • Check with your local recycle collection on what can be recycled in your area and how to properly separate.
  • Items with foods on it, such as pizza boxes, can not usually be recycled.

Smaller portions

  • If you eat smaller portions, you are likely to have less wasted food.
  • Eating smaller portions is also good for your body.

Food storage

Single-Use Items and Shopping

Don’t “shop” for trash

  • Stop buying plastic cups, paper plates, paper towels, plastic silverware, etc.
  • You are spending money on something that will be used once and thrown away.
  • These usually have packaging that is thrown in the trash and then the product is thrown away.

No plastic straws

  • When eating out, ask the waiter/waitress not to bring you a straw.
  • Invest in a set of stainless steel straws that you can keep with you.

Avoid single-serving packages

  • Similar to shopping for trash, you are spending money on something that will be discarded.
  • Single-serving items include juice boxes, individual yogurt cups, single-serve coffee cups, etc.

Buy in bulk

  • Buy in bulk, but only if you will use it all before it goes bad.
  • Buying in bulk means less packaging that has to be discarded.
  • Make sure it isn’t individually packaged within the bulk packaging, because that doesn’t help.

Reusable grocery bags

  • You can buy all kinds of reusable grocery bags, and get them at almost any grocery store.
  • There are even options for reusable produce bags instead of the plastic ones at the store.
  • I just learned the other day that we can recycle all the plastic bags from the grocery store. I usually use my cloth bags, but when I forget, I at least know I can throw these bags in the recycle bin which is better than nothing.

Leftover containers

  • When you go out to eat, bring your own leftover containers.
  • Styrofoam does not break down and can be bulky.

Kitchen Garden

Compost

  • There are so many things that can go in a compost bin rather than the trash.
  • Get rid of food scraps that you can’t regrow in a garden by adding to a compost bin.
  • Compost makes great fertilizer for your yard and/or garden.

Start a garden

  • Start a garden to grow your own food so you can harvest only what you will eat.
  • Use kitchen scraps in your garden to grow new food from old food.
  • Use the compost you are accumulating to help fertilize the garden.

Shop This Post

When working in the kitchen, it helps to make sure you have the correct equipment. The following items are hand-selected for this post and are all items I have personally used and/or recommend.

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View Comments (54)

  • Don't shop for trash! That's definitely one I needed to be reminded about today. I know I could cut down on the number of paper towels we go through in a day.

  • Your tips are very practical. Buy items that have may use multiple time. seems to be key. You're a connoisseur of thrift

    • Thanks! It's taken a while to get to this place, it's not easy! But any little bit we can do will help our environment.

  • So important, and we work hard on these everyday. If we all did a little, it would be a huge difference!

  • This article means so much to me. Waste is a scary, scary thing and it grows every second! Convenience in packaging is NOT good for the environment at all. We do most of the things that you recommend except for a compost or garden... maybe in the spring!

    • I agree, it's scary how easy it is to create so much waste. We've been working really hard on these lately.

  • These are really great tips to involve in everyone's daily life. It will definitely save the environment and the money spent on a daily basis too.

    • It's amazing how much it saves. There's a small investment up front, such as buying the reusable bags, but it saves so much in the end!

    • We are slowly working on it. I need to find a system to make it easy to get it from the kitchen outside to the bin.

  • These are really helpful tips. We should try to reduce waste any which ways and you've presented an amazing checklist. The buy in bulk option is a hit for me - things bought in bulk usually ends in bin - better not to buy in bulk. Thanks for sharing.

    • Glad I could help! These are things that we have slowly been working on as well, you have to start somewhere!

  • This post is right on! I think everyone should read it and then notice how much trash is generated. We do our best but obviously there's always room for improvement. Also I have to say that the grocery stores don't do a good enough job with their packaging. There are things we absolutely have to buy but why wrap everything in plastic? This topic always gets me worked up. Great post again!

    • You're so right, there's always room for improvement. The grocery stores could be better, but it also comes from the manufacturer's as well. I've been trying to make as many improvements as we can, but without a bulk purchase store close by, there's only so much we can do.

  • We have recycle bins for plastic, paper, bio, can etc. Recycling is always good especially for the environment. In my house we shop only on the weekly base.

    • Luckily we can just throw all of the recycle in one bin at our house. My boys are already good at asking if things can be recycled before throwing them away.

    • Thank you! I'm glad to know that some of these are things you are already doing. It may seem small, but it all makes a difference!

  • I am embarrassed by the amount of waste that comes out of my kitchen! I do some of the things on the list, but I am going to start doing more!

  • I love your tips... I’ve been trying hard this year to have a greener kitchen and also to cut out as much food packaging as possible to make our trash footprint less.

  • I hate wasting so these tips are much appreciated. They also sound easy to implement!

    April

    • So true. When you aren't buying things over and over, it helps save money as well as the environment!

  • I love these tips you shared! I try to be as environmentally conscious as possible and definitely want to cut back on waste!

    • Thank you! I'm glad it was able to inspire you to think more about the different ways to cut down on waste.

    • Yes, it helps save the environment by creating less trash and helps to save money since you aren't buying stuff just to throw it out!

  • Amazing ideas!!! I waste so so much in the kitchen and most of this waste can be avoided to be fully honest.

    • I think a lot of people don't even realize how much they waste until you really start to think about it.

  • We have been really focused on this and especially making smaller portions! I love all these ideas and tips.

  • I only live by myself and I usually buy for two meals during the week and eat those for a span of 5 days (I get free lunch at work). I also clean on the pantry every year. I want to be more minimal this year.

    • That's awesome that you get lunch at work! My boys always ate lunch at school and I am missing that now that they have been home for a couple of months. Doing an annual pantry cleaning is great!

  • Great post Stephanie! Never really thought about reducing waste to be honest. This article has provided me a great way to start. Thanks

    • There are a lot of little things you can do to get started. And each little thing can still make an impact!

  • I had to laugh at your comment about the jars. I save all jars with screw lids. We get mayo in large jars with a screw lid, and now I have a plethora in my cupboard full of nuts, seeds etc. My husband calls it the apothecary cupboard lol.

    • Hah, I have so many jars too. I had to rearrange my cabinets recently because I was running out of space where I store the empty ones!

  • YES!!! Love this as we are a family of as little waste as possible especially food waste. The storage jars we have and are very useful for sure x

    • We have been trying to cut ours down as much as possible, too! I love having all different sizes of storage jars and containers.

  • I love the idea of cutting waste in the kitchen. I feel like, especially with kids, we waste soooo much!

    • It definitely is easy to do. Kids change so many things. We've been working on teaching them how to reduce, too, so that helps.

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