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12 Zero-Waste Essentials for Your Modern Kitchen

 

While it’s important to take steps to avoid food wastage, food is far from the only waste your kitchen can produce. Look back on every time you crumpled up some cling wrap, tossed a wad of paper napkins into the trash, or threw out a plastic bag. Now, try to imagine how much waste that has built up to after a full year. Not a small amount, is it?

Fortunately, it’s not too late to make the necessary changes if you really want to achieve a zero-waste kitchen. Just take note of the 12 zero-waste essentials listed below!

 

12 Essentials to Complete Your Zero-Waste Kitchen

 

1. Cloth Napkins

Did you know that the average American uses up 2,200 paper napkins a year? Cloth napkins might seem more expensive at first, but they’ll help you cut costs in the long run. You just have to wash them when they get soiled, and they’re good to go. Aim for cloth napkins that don’t come in plastic packaging!

TIP: Go for dark-colored napkins and patterns. The colors and prints draw attention away from the stains that your napkins will eventually accumulate.

2. Dish Brushes

Disposable commercial sponges come in plastic packaging, accumulate bacteria, and gradually become discolored and smelly. Instead of buying sponge after sponge, switch to bristled brushes to scrub your dishes clean.

It helps to find wooden brushes that you can compost once they’re past their usable life span. Some brushes, like this one from the Package Free Shop, have replaceable and compostable heads.

3. Glass Spray Bottles

DIY cleaning solutions will be right at home inside a glass spray bottle. Some zero-waste homeowners keep two bottles around, one for homemade cleaner and the other for tap water.

4. Mason Jars

They’re functional, they’re portable, and they’re a charming sight on modern kitchen shelves. No wonder mason jars are so popular among zero-waste homeowners. Some people fill them with juices and smoothies while others use them for soups and oatmeal on the go.

Looking for some variety or a bit of European charm? Weck jars are Europe’s answer to the mason jar, and they’re just as stylish and practical.

5. Stainless Steel Funnels

Funnels make it much easier to transfer food from bulk containers to jars or small tubs without any messes. After all, a zero-waste lifestyle ought to be a zero-spill lifestyle as well. As a bonus, stainless steel funnels won’t crack or break like their plastic counterparts.

6. Beeswax Wrap

Did you know that traditional cling wrap can leach Bisphenol-A and other toxic chemicals onto your food? Reusable beeswax wrap is far safer and better for the environment. Just remember to wash it with biodegradable soap in cold water so that the wax doesn’t melt off.

Some brands such as Bee’s Wrap offer different sizes for all your zero-waste kitchen wrapping needs. It even supplies specialty beeswax wraps for bread and cheese!

7. Organic Cotton Coffee Filters

Say goodbye to plastic-wrapped disposable coffee filters! Reusable filters made of organic cotton are surprisingly easy to wash, and they’re perfectly compostable.

To start you off, a pack of CoffeeSocks can replace 500 disposable filters. There are varieties for hot brew and cold brew, as well as commercial-sized filters for shops!

8. Reusable Cloth Bags

Cloth bags are as versatile as they are varied. Use them to store food in pantries, pack for picnics, or opt out of plastic bags when doing groceries. They also come in a wide range of eye-catching prints and designs.

9. Eco-Friendly Sandwich Bags

There will come a time when you need to throw together a sandwich and eat it on the go. If you used to stock your kitchen with plastic sandwich bags, switch them out for pouches made of quick-drying cloth or silicon. These can be washed and reused, even if you’ve gotten mayonnaise all over the inside!

You can also opt for disposable bags made of unwaxed paper, which can be recycled or composted. Lunchskins’ paper sandwich bags stand out for being sealable and featuring simple but colorful designs.

10. Bandanas and Rags

Bandanas and rags are a great zero-waste swap for traditional paper towels. Use them to dry your hands, wipe up messes, or wrap up food without having to deal with a disposable wad of soiled paper afterwards.

11. Sustainable Kitchenware

Buying zero-waste kitchenware made from wood or bamboo can be more than a stylistic choice. These materials are far better for the environment than plastic, especially when the source material is harvested responsibly. You might also be surprised at how flexible wood and bamboo can be. Bambu’s selection of kitchen essentials ranges from spatulas to tongs to cutting boards and condiment cups.

12. Reusable Coffee Cups

You want to take your morning coffee with you, but you don’t want it to leak onto the inside of your bag. Reusable coffee cups are the answer you’re looking for. The best ones combine style, durability, insulation, and resistance to leaks.

The benefits of reusable coffee cups extend beyond the kitchen, too! As an eco-friendly plus, some coffee shops offer discounts to customers who have their drinks poured into their reusable cups.

A sustainable set of zero-waste essentials is the perfect finishing touch for a modern kitchen. Remember these 12 essentials, and you’ll be on your way to a kitchen that is both stylish and sustainable.

Visit our blog regularly for more posts about zero-waste kitchens and sustainable living.

Make Your Kitchen Eco-Friendly with These 7 Reusable Food Storage Containers

For a truly sustainable lifestyle, you need an eco-friendly kitchen complete with green appliances, homemade cleaners, and reusable food containers. By “reusable containers,” we don’t mean traditional plastic products that may taint your snacks with toxic chemicals! You’ll want to find durable containers made of sustainable food-grade material. To help you out, here are 7 eco-friendly and reusable food storage containers for your kitchen.

 

7 Reusable Food Storage Containers for an Eco-Friendly Kitchen

 

1. Mason Jars

Mason Jars

Eco-friendly and affordable, mason jars are a great reusable option for food storage. It helps that they’re incredibly versatile. Place condiments and herbs in small jars, carry salads to work in medium jars, and keep grain or flour in large jars. These containers can even store soups, smoothies, and desserts, all while making your food look stunning.

2. Stainless Steel Containers

Stainless Steel Containers

Stainless steel containers might not be ultra-cheap, but they’re more than worth the price. These food storage containers are lightweight, durable, and plastic-free. They won’t react with acidic food or transfer smells from pungent dishes. Some of them come in stackable sets for saving space in your refrigerator or bringing packed lunch to work. These reusable containers can also survive a bad fall, coming away with a simple dent or scuff.

3. Glass Tubs

Glass Tubs

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For dishes and larger portions that won’t fit very well in a mason jar, glass tubs are the way to go. Aside from being eco-friendly, they’re reusable for years on end as long as you don’t drop them. They can be stacked in your fridge, too. Find glass tubs with snap-on lids for added convenience.

Worried about plastic covers negating the eco-friendliness of your reusable glass tubs? You can easily find products with BPA-free lids.

4. Recycled Plastic

Recycled Plastic

If you don’t mind having some plastic around, you can go for polypropylene, or no. 5 plastic. Buy eco-friendly products made of recycled polypropylene, and you can help keep a bit more plastic out of landfills. Look for reusable, BPA-free storage containers from brands such as Preserve.

5. Silicone Food Bags

Eco-friendly Silicone Food Bags

Another type of BPA-free food container, these eco-friendly bags are made of food-grade silicone and can be used over and over again. They don’t stain even after holding pasta or tomato sauce. Reusable silicone food bags will also survive freezers, microwaves, and dishwashers!

6. Beeswax Wrap

Eco-friendly Beeswax Wrap

Say goodbye to traditional cling wrap! Beeswax wrap is reusable, eco-friendly, and just self-adhesive enough to avoid tangling up like cling wrap. You can mould it around glass bowls with the help of your hands’ warmth. To reuse beeswax cloth, simply hand-wash it with cold water and biodegradable soap, and then let it air dry.

Beeswax wrap may wear out after a year of use. Good thing it’s organic and completely compostable!

NOTE: Since you’ll only be cold-washing your beeswax wrap, it isn’t suitable for raw meat. You also can’t use it with pineapples, which contain enzymes that break down wax and resin.

7. Burlap Sacks

Eco-friendly Burlap Sacks

Some fruits and vegetables fare better in room temperature storage. Instead of putting them in flimsy single-use plastic bags, place produce in eco-friendly burlap sacks. These provide a dark and dry environment to keep root crops in top condition. The sight of burlap sacks can also add playful country charm to your kitchen. Plus, since they’re made of plant fibers, you can simply compost the sacks when they’re no longer usable.

Ready to commit to a more sustainable lifestyle? Switch to these 7 reusable food storage containers to complete your eco-friendly kitchen.

Liked this post? Visit our blog for more articles on sustainable living and home improvement.

7 Steps to an Eco-Friendly Kitchen

Eco-friendly living will continue to be a hot trend in 2019, with more and more homeowners realizing how the details of their lifestyle can affect the environment in the long run. If you want to keep up with the times, you ought to update your home with sustainable choices, from your living room to your kitchen. To get you started, here are 7 steps you can take for an eco-friendly kitchen.

7 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Kitchen

1. Choose Your Appliances Wisely

Look for energy-efficient appliances. These use just enough energy to do their job and can help you save 10-50% of the normal power consumption of their regular versions. Some of them even run on renewable energy, such as solar power. One indicator of an eco-friendly appliance is the Energy Star label, which is placed on products that the Environmental Protection Agency certifies as energy-efficient.

In addition, you might want to unplug your appliances when they’re not in use. Leave them plugged in and they’ll still use up power.

2. Cook Smart

If you tend to prepare meals without much thought, you’re probably using more energy in your kitchen than you actually need. This can increase your carbon footprint without you realizing it. Here are some points to keep in mind when you’re in the kitchen:

  • Use just enough water. The more water you use, the more energy you’ll need to heat it up or get it to boiling point. Plus, excess water is wasted water.
  • Use lids when you cook. This traps heat and speeds up your cooking.
  • Try using the microwave instead of the oven when you can. This way, you can use 80% less energy to reheat the same food item.
  • Cut down on meat and dairy. It takes up a surprising amount of resources to raise a cow. Forests are sometimes even converted into pastures just to raise livestock. The more meat and dairy you consume, the bigger your carbon footprint.

3. Upgrade Cookware and Utensils

Switch out your plastic cookware for modern equivalents made of eco-friendly materials such as porcelain, glass, or wood. It’s a good thing there are several brands selling sustainable kitchen products nowadays! These include Rustic Wall Co., which produces kitchen utensils made of logging scraps, or Bambeco, which reuses its leftover materials and plants a tree for every purchase.

4. Cook With Organic Greens

Try to cook with herbs and vegetables that are fresh and free of pesticides. There are two ways to do this: buy from local green grocers or farmers’ markets, or grow your own produce.

Locally sourced greens don’t consume as much fuel just to be transported, which is a big eco-friendly plus. Be sure of whom you’re buying from, though. A large commercial farm that douses its crops with pesticides could fall under “local” if it’s just across your street. Opt for produce from small, organic farms.

You can also try your hand at growing your own herbs and vegetables. Many common vegetables are perfect for budding gardeners. These include tomatoes, cabbage, and spring onions. The additional backyard foliage will help keep the air at home fresh, too.

5. Cut Down on Food Waste

If your kitchen is truly eco-friendly, it will ideally produce minimal food waste. The following tips should keep you from throwing out too much food:

  • Shop smart. When you’re at the groceries, be realistic and buy only what you need.
  • Don’t over-serve. When scooping food onto your plate, don’t pile it up in heaps. Instead, get smaller portions and go back for seconds if needed.
  • Save your leftovers. If you’re feeling creative, you can use leftovers to whip up a fantastic meal. Just label them to keep track of how long they’ve been in your fridge.
  • Note down the food you toss out. That way you’ll know what you don’t use and take steps to avoid repeated kitchen wastage, whether that means buying smaller sizes of the same product or cutting that item out of your menu entirely.

6. Use Your Fridge Right

Your fridge uses up energy to keep food cold. If you’re aiming to have an eco-friendly kitchen, you’ll want to reduce the work your fridge has to do. Position your fridge in a cool area of your kitchen, and let food cool before putting it in the fridge.

Make sure that your fridge is still efficient, too. Defrost it regularly to keep your fridge and freezer running efficiently. Also, check if the seals around the door need to be changed. A quick test: close the door on a dollar bill. If the bill easily slides out, that means that the seals are also loose enough to let cold air seep out. Replace the seals as needed.

7. Use Green Cleaning Products

Some kitchen cleaning products have chemicals which can harm your family as well as the environment. Switch to eco-friendly alternatives with natural formulas. Homemade cleaning ingredients won’t give off strong odors, yet they can often be just as effective as store-bought cleaning products.

With these 7 steps, you’ll be on your way to an eco-friendly kitchen with a smaller carbon footprint. This sustainable lifestyle choice isn’t just a great way to welcome the new year, but it’ll help keep your home cleaner and fresher for you and your family.

For more tips on sustainable living and interior design, visit our blog regularly.

Quick Guide to Kitchen Under Cabinet Lighting

Quick Guide to Kitchen Under Cabinet Lighting

Under Cabinet Lighting is the most suitable choice for your kitchen countertops. Not only does it illuminate the backsplash on your wall, but it is also ideal for food preparation and cooking. A lot of lighting designers are talking about under cabinet lighting as it creates “layers of light” for your kitchen.

However, there a lot of available options in the market. How will you know which style of under cabinet lighting is perfect for your kitchen?

We hope this Quick Guide to Kitchen Under Cabinet Lighting helps.

Types of Under Cabinet Lighting Fixtures

1. Puck Lights

Puck lights are by far the most popular type of under cabinet lights. They are circular lights that deliver focused lighting to the space below it. Aside from serving as a good task lighting, it can also be used for accent lighting by orienting it toward the backsplash to get an ambient glow.

Puck lights are easy to install and affordable, hence they are user and budget friendly.

On the other hand, the space that is lighted by puck lights is limited to the space they are pointed at. Thus you have to buy several units and install them with regular spacing to achieve best results.

2. Light Strips

Light strips are available in several lengths and can be customized according to your cabinet length and shape. Compared to puck lights, they deliver lighting more evenly. And compared to rope and tape lights [below] they emit more luminous light.

You can buy this in LED or fluorescent options. LED being longer lasting and energy efficient, while fluorescent has less initial cost.

3. Tape Lights

Tape lights are the most space-saving under cabinet light, because its thin strips are flexible and can fit into corners and tight spaces. It is made of LED lights fixed in a strip of flexible peel-and-stick adhesive tape. It delivers functional light to aid your kitchen task while staying low-key and inconspicuous. But note that tape lights are not a good stand alone under cabinet lighting. It only works well when matched with more functional lights.

However, it can be complicated to install this fixture if you want to hide the wirings. It is best to hire a professional if you want to properly install tape lights.

4. Rope Lights

Rope lights are a type of linear lighting fixture alongside tape and light strips. It is made of LED lights strung inside a tube, thus it is a bit thicker than tape lights. The two, however, shares almost the same advantages. It is also a space saver and is more affordable.

Like tape light, it doesn’t give off much light. So, it is best matched with good task lighting. It is also less flexible than other linear lighting.

 

Things to Consider when Buying Under Cabinet Lighting

Now that you know the type of under cabinet lights you need, here are the details that you have to consider when you buy one.

Amount of Light

Under cabinet lights are only an addition to a kitchen that is already well lit. Overhead lighting should primarily deliver the most amount of light. However, if you want to add more illumination you can choose task lights like puck lights as they deliver a bit more light than other under cabinet lights.

Color Temperature

Aside from the amount of light, you should also be concerned with the color temperature. Different kitchen designs, including the color theme and materials used, call for a particular color temperature. Hence, you should be particular with this.

Kitchens with wooden cabinets and tones are best lit with lights in the warmer spectrum.

Modern kitchens, on the other hand, with glass or steel fixtures and cabinets call for cooler lights.

Bulb Type

LED (Light Emitting Diode) –  is the most energy efficient choice is LED. It doesn’t emit as much heat as other bulb types and it lasts up to 50,000 hours. It costs more than halogen and xenon lights, but the cost pales in comparison to the amount of light and energy efficiency of this bulb.

Xenon – is the best choice if you want warm lights, as it gives off the warm glow comparable to that of incandescent lights but with less heat and longer life hours. It can last up to 8,000 hours compared to 2,000 hours lifespan of incandescent bulbs. While it emits less heat than incandescent, it has a higher heat emission level than LED and Halogen bulbs.

Halogen – is much like the incandescent bulb, but it emits brighter illumination and it lasts longer. It can last up to 4,000 hours. Compared to LED, it is less expensive, but it emits more heat. Accurate fitting and proper placement is important, as it can burn very hot.

Fluorescent – emits cooler light than halogen and xenon lights. Along with LED, it is also energy efficient and emits functional, bright illumination. On the other hand, its initial cost is hefty, and it must be properly handled because it contains mercury vapor that can risk your health.

Power Source

Here are three main power source options you have for your under cabinet lights:

Battery-powered is easy to install and convenient but can be unreliable especially when you drain the battery charge. You may need to replace the batteries too often when you’re busy at the kitchen

Plug-in requires an accessible outlet, and as such the wirings can be too obvious. If you use many kitchen appliances, this may not be your best option. On a lighter note, it only requires simple installation.

Hard-wired lighting fixtures are directly connected to the power source. It is a good permanent solution for a seamless under cabinet lighting fixtures. However, its installation is the hardest, requiring professional service.

With all these important information under your belt, you can now plan the remodeling you want for your kitchen. Not confident enough? Call a professional interior designer.

Do you find this article helpful? For more interior design guides and tips, stay tuned in our blog.

5 Kitchens That Combine Form & Function

Modern Loft Kitchen in Chicago1. Sometimes I walk into an initial consult, and am overcome with the potential of the space. This Chicago West Loop condo, with its concrete ceilings and rich wood floors, falls into that category. It was oozing with potential . The concrete combined with wood, stone, and glass creates an interesting layered look. Metal and glass modern light fixtures are the perfect finishing detail for this space.

Slab front espresso cabinetry along with pale quartz counter tops creates striking, high contrast look. A combination of different sizes of stone and glass were used to construct an interesting and masculine backsplash.

 

 

North Chicago Kitchen2. Sleek glass tile is the focal point in this loft-style kitchen. The stacked tile design adds to the modern aesthetic of the kitchen and keeps the design very clean. The tile was laid above the cabinets to add height and drama to the space. Perforated metal pendant lighting illuminated by Edison light bulbs adds a unique flair to this home. Here’s a designer tip for you: Be bold with your lighting selections. Light fixtures are a great place to express your personality.

 

 

 

Contemporary Chicago Kitchen Design3. The goal of this kitchen remodel was to create a modern kitchen that felt crisp, clean, fresh, and airy. Recycled glass mosaic tile creates a dramatic impact on the back splash. Two different tones of the same tile were used to create a graphic stripe pattern. You can’t see it here, but the reflective glass tile shimmers in the natural sunlight.

 

 

 

 

 

Wicker Park Chicago Kitchen4. This kitchen is a combination of traditional and modern elements. The cabinetry, granite, and hardware are very contemporary, but with the infusion of a custom rustic kitchen table, fabric dining chairs and cornice boards, the space becomes cozy. The cornice boards were created in an unexpected bohemian patterned fabric with orange accents to add interest and pattern to the room. The hammered metal pendants hanging at varying height, are copper on the inside and produce a warm glow.

The focal point is a custom double pedestal base table. This table was created to fit the space perfectly and fulfill all of the family’s needs. With a bench on one side for the kids, and more formal dining chairs on the opposing side, the kitchen has found the perfect balance between formal and casual.

 

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5. The purpose of a kitchen is to create meals that bring people together. This kitchen does a great job of incorporating a dining area with the kitchen. We all know that getttogethers often end with people congregating in the kitchen. By having the eating space face the preparation area, the cook can intimately interact with the people who get to enjoy their creations.

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