A zero-waste cottage kitchen is a few simple swaps away

a woman sets up a zero-waste cottage kitchen Photo by Ulza/ Shutterstock

A zero-waste cottage kitchen can help avoid the pitstop at the dump on the way home. A car filled with trash bags doesn’t make for a pleasant trip—and it’s no picnic for the environment, either. According to research from the National Zero Waste Council, Canadians waste almost 2.2 million tons of edible food per year. Not only is this bad for our wallets, but it’s a big contributor to our greenhouse gas emissions. When you factor in the resources used to grow, produce and distribute that food, it’s equivalent to 2.1 million extra cars on the road. Not only that, but there are other items in the kitchen that get needlessly tossed, too. The good news is that there are steps we can take to reduce our individual food waste. Set up a zero-waste cottage kitchen with these tips.

Start composting

A rotating composter on a blank background
Photo by Lowe’s

Tossing food scraps into your trash may seem harmless, but when organic materials break down in a landfill, they create methane gas (25 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide). If you invest in a composter, you’ll be one step closer to a zero-waste cottage kitchen and you’ll create high-quality fertilizer for your plant life, too. You can compost everything from food scraps to coffee grounds (find a complete list of what can and can’t be composted here). This unique tumbling composter is resistant to UV rays and can finish composting in as little as two weeks. Buy at

Store strategically


five glass containers with plastic lids for zero-waste kitchen
Photo by Anchor

The first step to keeping food out of the trash in a zero-waste cottage kitchen is to keep it fresh longer. For produce and real estate, the motto is the same: location, location, location. Why? Some fruits and veggies, like apples, bananas, and peaches, produce ethylene, a gas that causes food to ripen faster. Others, like cauliflower and carrots, are ethylene-sensitive, meaning they ripen faster when they’re exposed to it and need to be kept separate. Tomatoes are firmly in the middle. So how does this relate to your fridge? Store apples, bananas, melons, and peaches solo. Pro tip: if you want to ripen an avocado faster, toss in a bag with one of the above. Also, most produce that requires refrigeration, like lettuce, usually keep for much longer sealed in an airtight container, like the glass set above. Buy at

Wrap it up

A cabbage, avocado and a bowl of lettuce on beeswax wrap for zero-waste kitchen
Photo by Abeego

We all need to cut back on single-use plastics, but plastic wrap saves leftovers and prevents food from spoiling, too. The solution? Invest in reusable alternatives, like this plastic-free beeswax wrap that clings to food just like its plastic predecessor. Not only that, but it actually mimics the function of a peel, allowing the food to “breathe” and stay fresher, longer. The best part is that it can be washed and reused for years. Buy it at 

Ditch the paper towels

A roll of reusable paper towels with a leaf pattern for zero-waste kitchen
Photo by GreenandHappyShop on Etsy

It’s estimated that a single roll of cloth paper towels can replace over 30,000 disposable ones. This reusable version gives you the same roll format, they conveniently snap together and they look good in your zero-waste kitchen to boot. And because they’re cute, they also can sub in for a cloth napkin, too. Buy it at

Bring your own packaging

three reusable produce bags for zero-waste kitchen
Photo by Oui

Bulk food stores and farmer’s markets are a zero-waste cottage kitchen’s best friend. Try stocking up on try staples—like nuts, grains, pasta, and cereal, at your local bulk food store. You can bring your own reusable bags and jars, too. When hitting up the local produce stand or the grocery store, bring reusable mesh produce bags for shopping, like these. Buy them at

Buy smart

a dish soap bar rests on a natural loofa for zero-waste dishwashing
Photo by rE:

For cleaning essentials like dish soap, opt for plastic-free options like this solid version. It’s also plant-based, biodegradable, and comes with a handy loofa that can replace a plastic brush or sponge. Buy it at

Banish plastic bottles 


a stainless steel water bottle
Photo by LifeStraw

Plastic water bottles are the antithesis of a zero-waste cottage kitchen, but staying hydrated in the summer months is integral. Since cottage water isn’t always optimal, opt for a reusable filtering water bottle, like this one. It enables you to drink from pretty much any body of water safely (yes, even the lake). Buy it on

Go #NoFilter 

a french press for zero-waste cottage kitchen
Photo by Bodum

Nothing is going to stand between you and that first sip of coffee. For a zero-waste kitchen, nix the takeaway cups, coffee filters, and pods and keep some coffee grounds at the cottage, along with a trusty French press. Since it doesn’t use a filter, you can toss the grounds straight in the composter. This copper and tempered glass version are as durable as it is chic. Buy it on 

Featured video