How to Achieve a Zero-Waste Kitchen in a Rental

From reusable water bottles to in-home compost bins, it's easy to find ways to pursue zero-waste alternatives in your kitchen. You don't need to have your own house, either! It's possible to exist sustainably wherever you live — as long as you can be a little creative!

Here are a few ideas on how to create a zero-waste kitchen in a rental.

1. Buy sustainable cleaning supplies


A green household should always have reusable and biodegradable supplies on hand. When you use traditional kitchen items like sponges and gloves, they eventually make their way to a landfill alongside other plastics — and contribute to the up to 12.7 million metric tons that plague our oceans every year. The same goes for dishwasher pods and additional tools that you use to clean.

Start to phase out your current kitchen supplies with new reusable options. Fortunately, in today's market, there are sustainable swaps for every kitchen supply you can imagine. You should opt for rags to clean up messes, as well as sustainable sponges. You can also try cloth napkins as an alternative to paper. Think about refillable containers that you can use for soaps and cleaners, then make your own solutions to fully avoid purchasing pre-bottled products.

2. Compost leftover food


You should never throw away food scraps! Almost all fruit and vegetables can break down quickly — which makes them perfect for your future compost bin. A compost pile can spruce up an outdoor garden almost instantaneously, acting as a natural fertilizer. Even your morning routine can contribute to zero-waste living, as coffee grounds contain vitamins and nutrients that improve soil over time.

You can compost numerous items, including:

  • Non-animal food scraps
  • Tea leaves and bags
  • Dust and dryer lint
  • Dry pet food
  • Herbs and spices
  • Grains like bread and oats
  • Newspaper and cardboard
  • Clothes and linens of natural fibers

Some objects may take longer to decompose than others, so it's important to do a little research before you start. You don't need a backyard to compost. There are many apartment-friendly compost bins to consider.

You could also ask a friend or neighbor who has an outdoor space if they'd like to start a compost pile with you. You may even want to use this opportunity to start a small indoor herb garden, which will help you create a sustainable cycle of composting and apartment growing.

3. Use scraps again


Of course, composting isn't the only way to cut back on food waste. You may be surprised by what you can do with leftovers. You may not be able to repurpose certain prepared foods, but it's best to do as much as possible.

How do you use food scraps creatively? It's a lot easier than you think. For example, leftover bones from chickens and other meat work perfectly as a base for bone broth. You can even try lemon juice and rinds as a natural way to clean your home. A delicious banana bread loaf can come from several overripe bananas.

4. Recycle when needed


You won't have much waste to deal with as you pursue a zero-free lifestyle. That said, it's still possible that you'll come across the occasional tin can or glass bottle. That's when you should recycle. This method has existed for decades, so there's plenty of information online covering what renters can and can't recycle these days. These materials often include Styrofoam and wire hangers and can vary by region.

You'll have to think creatively if your apartment doesn't recycle. Is there a way to bring your recyclables to a friend's house? Could you use your work's recycling bin? You could also load up your items in the car and drive to your community's recycling center.

5. Try reusable containers


If you don't already own reusable food containers and bags, it's time to stock up your kitchen. Materials like aluminum foil can help cover large dishes, but it's best to avoid them for all leftovers. Plus, you'll find that it's much easier to take food with you to work when you use reusable containers. A few plastic containers and mason jars work well for most storage needs.

Look for special containers like bento boxes if you'd like to use them on the go. You could also explore plastic wrap alternatives to keep your food fresh, like setting a plate on top of a bowl or using a cloth bowl cover similar to a shower cap. It's also essential to choose reusable water bottles and coffee mugs over single-use options.

Zero-waste kitchens are easier than you think

With these tips, you can work toward a zero-waste lifestyle no matter where you live! There are many easy ways to get started — and it's impossible to make mistakes. Take your time to explore the options that suit you best.

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