Zero Waste Kitchen Swaps For A More Sustainable Lifestyle

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If you are looking for zero waste kitchen tips then this post is for you. Having a no waste kitchen or even just a low waste kitchen is one of the best places to start if you have decided to try and live a more zero waste lifestyle. You just need to know the easiest zero waste swaps that work for you

But how do you go about making your kitchen zero waste? Here are a few easy zero waste kitchen ideas and zero waste kitchen swaps to help you live a more eco friendly and sustainable lifestyle.

*Ad-gifted – this is a collaborative post – I was gifted some of the zero waste kitchen essentials in this post for review, but all opinions are my own. This post has been updated, it was originally published in December 2019.

Zero Waste Kitchen Ideas



Before we focus on getting a waste free kitchen in your home, it is important to think about the basics of being zero waste.

  • Reduce how much you use – which means you end up with less food waste 
  • Reuse what you can – like plastic reusable food storage containers or glass jars to store food scraps and ingredients
  • Recycle where possible – or upcycle
  • Repair if it breaks and can be repaired
  • Rent and borrow items if you are only going to use them infrequently
  • Refuse to buy what you don’t need – or refuse to buy things wrapped in plastic wrap etc
  • Rot – if an item can be composted once finished with then this is much better for the environment.

And so all these easy kitchen swaps take these basics into account.

Should I Aim For A Plastic Free Kitchen?

To start, I will say that having a zero waste home kitchen is not something to be achieved in a day. And a totally plastic free kitchen may not suit your lifestyle and may not even be achievable for you. But you should not beat yourself up about this. 

When I started out on my journey to being more sustainable, I started with one small swap at a time, swapping sustainable kitchen products for the disposable or plastic packed counterpart. If it worked for me, I carried on and aded another. If it didn’t work, then I’d try a different swap. It is about progress rather than perfection. And the small steps you take are still making a difference.

So what are some of the best zero waste kitchen products and ideas I have found? 

1. Swap Kitchen Roll For Reusable Towels

The first of the zero waste kitchen products that has worked for me is unpaper towels or reusable kitchen roll.

We throw away so much paper each year in the form of paper towels. So one of the biggest and easiest kitchen swaps you can make is using reusable kitchen roll instead of paper towels.

See here for an easy tutorial on how you can make your own. Or buy some here.

You can use snaps to keep them in a roll if you prefer. But you could also just stack them in a box to use as needed. 

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2. Swap Plastic Washing Up Sponges For Unsponges

The next of my low waste kitchen swaps was moving from using plastic sponges to using a compostable alternative.

Plastic sponges are horrible bacteria breeding things. So why not make your own unsponges that can be made from fabric remnants and can be washed and reused time and time again? These zero waste dish sponges can even be composted once they have worn out.

Alternatively, You could make a towelling sponge from an upcycled old towel. Or buy ready made unsponges here.

How To Make Unsponges - Make your own kitchen sponges - a great alternative to plastic bacteria breeding sponges and scrubbers. A great zero waste kitchen swap. Upcycle old clothes, towels and bedding to make these padded scrubbing washing cloths that can be laundered with the rest of your wash. DIY unsponge tutorial with pictures. Pictorial guide to making these sustainable recycled kitchen swaps. Environmentally friendly #unsponges #kitchenswaps #upcycling #sustainable #zerowaste #environmentallyfriendly #kitchenunsponges #diyunsponge


3. Swap Your Shopping Bags For Reusable Ones – Even Your Produce Bags


The fact that a price tag has been put on shop bought bags has made a difference. But it is still easy to see people using plastic bags at the supermarket. Please do reuse! Or you could go one step further and make your own.

With this tutorial you could even make small mesh bags for getting your produce in at the supermarket. Reducing plastic waste even more.

Or just refuse to use small plastic bags when buying things like bananas.

4. Swap Clingfilm For Beeswax Wraps

I do use and reuse old tupperware boxes rather than use clingfilm these days. But another alternative is using beeswax wraps

See here on how to make your own, it is really simple.

And honestly, I do not agree that buying totally plastic-free kitchen storage is the way to be. Some critics would say that using plastic boxes is hardly being ‘plastic free’ – but to my mind if something comes in a plastic box that I can reuse and is food safe than this is just as good an option to me than throwing away any plastic boxes you already have. 

5. Swap Sandwich Bags For Sandwich Wraps

Again, you could reuse old plastic boxes for your lunch, but these sandwich wraps are a great alternative to the plastic sandwich wraps.Find out how to make your own with this tutorial.

How to Make your own reusable sandwich wraps - an alternative to plastic ziplock bags for packed lunches. A zero waste kitchen swap.. #DIY #tutorial with pictures. Pictorial guide to making these #sustainable #kitchenswaps. #Environmentallyfriendly #sandwichbags #zerowaste #zerowasteliving #zerowastelifestyle #sandwichwraps #sustainableliving


6. Swap Disposable Plastic Cups For Reusable Bamboo Or Stainless Steel Coffee Cups

If you get a coffee in a takeaway cup every day, it is amazing how quickly the waste mounts up. So now I take my reusable coffee cup with me. It’s the best way to have a more zero waste coffee!

Rabot 1745 Body Scrubs - a gift of beauty from Hotel Chocolate. With a twist, the scrubs are packaged in a reusable bamboo coffee cup. A great gift. Present ideas. Zero waste product. #Rabot1745 #bodyscrubs #hotelchocolat and #beautygift #selfcare #zerowaste #bamboocoffeecup

Mine actually came from Hotel Chocolat – and are the clever packaging from their shower scrubs! But this cup comes with some bamboo straws which are also really useful when out and about.

Again, don’t throw any plastic cups you already have, just replace with more sustainable plastic free utensils, bottles and cups when yours breaks or runs out.


7. Swap Plastic Straws For Bamboo or Metal Ones

I have actually just bought some metal straws for using out and about. Mine have a handy bag clip, and come in lots of colours. 

But bamboo straws are also a brilliant eco friendly idea. They come in several varieties and all are durable, handmade and sustainable solutions to using plastic straws.

Zero Waste Kitchen Swaps - reusable bamboo straws - here are some great ideas for some easy kitchen swaps that you can make on your journey to a more sustainable and ecofriendly lifestyle. Be frugal, save money and be eco friendly. Swap disposable plastic products for unsponges, beeswax wraps, reusables etc.

Why not make a straw case to house your reusable straw?


8. Swap Chemical Cleaners For Natural Ones

There are lots of recipes out there for zero waste cleaning products, more natural alternatives to chemical cleaners and dish soap. See this one for a natural floor cleaner.

And this is a great recipe for a natural surface cleanser.

I hate throwing disposable wipes away, so I make my own cleaning cloths. And also have made a reusable mop pad for my flash speed mop (Swiffer mop) 

But one of my favourite discoveries is that horse chestnuts can be used to make clothes washing liquid. Did you know this? See how you can make your own zero waste washing liquid from conkers!

Horse Chestnut Laundry Washing Soap - how to make this low cost, zero waste alternative to standard chemical washing liquids and powders. Autumn fall ideas. Ecologically sound ecofriendly kitchen swap #zerowaste #zerowasteliving #kitchenswap #ecofriendly #horsechestnuts #conkers #buckeyes #horsechestnutwashingsoap #ecowashing #ecofriendlyliving #soap #soapnuts


9. Swap Your Plastic Washing Up Brush For A Wooden One

Another good swap is to remember that once your old plastic dish brush wears out to replace it with a wooden, loofah or coir hair one that can be composted at the end of its life. I do intend to use my plastic one until it is totally worn out first though!

10. Swap Where You Shop To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Finally, if you can, shop local as much as you can. Not only does it put money back into the local economy and businesses (which is better for your town) , it lowers your carbon footprint. I am actually very lucky to have a thriving set of local businesses and a local farmers market right on my doorstep within walking distance. But it is so important to ‘use them or lose them’!

And most importantly, please do not get too overwhelmed with all these. It is very hard to be totally zero waste. I haven’t achieved it. But I do think that every little helps, so by trying to do something you are definitely making an impact.


Love these swaps? Why not try some easy zero waste bathroom swaps too?


Do you think that you could incorporate some of these zero waste kitchen swaps and plastic free kitchen products into your lifestyle? I would love to hear your stories. Comment below or find me on social media.

And please do pin this post for later.

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15 Replies to “Zero Waste Kitchen Swaps For A More Sustainable Lifestyle”

  1. Christy says:

    Great post! Some easily achievable swap suggestions for everyone here. I think it’s really important to just make small changes as everything counts and this list has something every home could manage. I need to get my sewing machine out and make some cleaning cloths out of my fabric leftovers. #KCACOLS

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Yes, small changes are so easy to make. Little by little helps.

    2. Ruth - Mummy and the Mexicans says:

      These are some really great tips here to try out. I generally don’t use clingfilm, I use Tupperware containers instead, and here where I live in Mexico they don’t give plastic bags in the supermarket and most shops anymore. Perhaps the biggest problem is all the packaging, which is hard to avoid if you need to buy that product. I think brands need to work on seriously reducing plastic packaging. Thanks for sharing this with #kcacols – hope you can join us again in the new year!

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you. Yes I do plan to make some more natural cleaners in 2020. Watch this space!

  2. victoria says:

    Awesome alternatives you have here.
    Keeping the environment free too.
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful Piece with us.

  3. Jaimie says:

    These are some really useful swap suggestion! I definitely think I’ll get some of those sandwich wraps. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Sandie says:

    Hello Jo, My silicone Slasher bags have become one of my favorite zero waste swaps. Coupled with beeswax wrap, they’re helping my family eliminate single-use plastic baggies, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap from our kitchen. Love all of your posts and tips!

  5. Kim Carberry says:

    What fantastic ideas and most are so simple to do. I use reusable bags and we love our metal straws now, they did take some getting used to. x


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