Ah, the kitchen — the heart of the home. In this active space, people come together for sustenance, conversation, and celebration. The kitchen is an essential part of your morning and evening routines, as well as a welcoming space to work, read, or chat with friends. As such, it is important to consider the value of what is stored there — and what isn't. You don't have to be a minimalist to reap the benefits of downsizing, and relieving your kichen of unnecessary items is the perfect project to breathe new life into your home. Need some help figuring out what to say goodbye to?
A diverse collection of spices is imperative in any good kitchen, but stuffing a deep cupboard full of mismatched shakers is problematic. While spices don't "spoil" the way milk does, they do lose aroma and flavor when they remain forgotten for months or years. Opt for a customizable rack instead; that way, you can label, refill, and easily access your seasonings at any time.
A knife block looks nice on a kitchen counter, but most people only use about three of them: the chef’s knife, paring knife, and serrated knife. If you are willing to part with the others, you can free up an impressive amount of counter space and utilize a magnetic wall strip, instead.
Nothing says "I love Tupperware" quite like Grandma’s kitchen. While it's sweet we have an appreciation for this seemingly immortal plasticware and our Grandmas, you’ve probably realized that a toppling tower of storage containers isn’t an effective use of space in your home. Declutter your containers by only keeping enough to hold one week’s worth of leftovers. Recycle, donate, or toss the rest. Plastic-free containers (glass, bamboo) are the most sustainable choice and resist odors and stains as well.
It is difficult to part with more expensive items like large appliances. However, it stings less if you already have something with a similar function. For example, are you using a Keurig every day, but storing a coffee pot in the cupboard? Do you use a pop-up toaster in the morning and a toaster oven for small snacks? Maybe it's possible to let go of near-duplicates, knowing you will still be able to make the same foods and drinks.
Although it may seem like a smart purchase, nonstick cookware often isn't built to last. Over time, the Teflon coating flakes away (especially if you use metal utensils to stir or scrape). While generally safe, the coating can release harmful chemicals if scratched or heated above 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Not ideal. Dangers aside, chefs overwhelmingly agree that cooking with stainless steel yields better results and is a more durable alternative to nonstick pots and pans.
Do you have a designated "miscellaneous appliances" cupboard somewhere that evokes the same horror you feel at the climax of a Stephen King novel? If so, it’s time to clear the cobwebs and ditch the weird appliances you’ve only used twice. This might include fondue kits, snow-cone makers, electric carving knives, pasta makers, or the nostalgic easy-bake oven. Release them from the greasy dust of their dark cabinet and donate them to someone who will, well, probably put them in their own miscellaneous drawer.
Sealable single-use plastic bags are a staple in most American kitchens. However, the sustainable alternatives available today render Ziploc bags largely useless. Glass containers, reusable beeswax wraps, and a range of silicone storage bags are much better for the environment if used for long periods of time. They save you money, too!
These are the nifty gadgets you find on endcaps at the supermarket but are now laying lifeless in your junk drawer. Say what you will about a tool's cleverness, but if you aren’t using it at least once a month, it probably doesn’t deserve a space in your kitchen. RIP avocado pit removers, apple slicers, yolk separators, and corn cob holders. Your services are no longer needed.
Unfortunately, with kitchen sponges, it’s not a matter of if but when they will get really, really gross. Synthetic sponges are great at what they do, but they tend to absorb and trap bacteria quickly. No amount of soapy rinsing or sunbaking can keep them from becoming stinky or even moldy, and who wants to waste all that water trying? Instead, rely on a durable brush or silicone scrubber you can commit to for long periods of time.
The process of downsizing plate ware and cutlery is usually met with the most rigid opposition. "What if I need to host a soccer team, or my extended family comes to town for my daughter’s graduation?" If you are regularly hosting large groups, it isn’t smart to donate all your plates and bowls. However, most people only entertain groups larger than their family a few times a year. Does this really warrant having ten extra table settings? Alternatives might be to use recycled, biodegradable plates for casual occasions and borrow a friend’s plates for a classier aesthetic. Alternatively, you can pick up vintage dishware sets from the thrift store for about what you'd pay for nicer disposables — just donate it back when you're done.
Bonus: less dinnerware also encourages less pile-up in the kitchen sink.
Even small changes have enormous payoffs when you let go of things you don't need. Enjoy easy-to-clean spaces, live more sustainably, and set a good example for the people around you.