most of us already have what it takes to get started...what we could often use is...less. that's a relief, really. no need to wait for more money to buy a list of things. all that is necessary is a little time to go through the cupboards, the determination to let a few things go, and using some things differently. having a place for each item and space for it to breathe really helps me feel more at ease in my kitchen.
there are a lot of things that we do not have in our kitchen...and probably a few that others would not find necessary. i try to use what i have...and find multiple uses for those items.
here's what we do have (in the food related department):
dishes: 8 medium sized plates, 7 large plates, 8 bowls, lots of jars for drinking glasses, 7 mugs, 4 enamel bowls, creamer
silverware: one set
cooking: large pot, small pot (+ lids), skillet, cookie sheet, cutting board, large dish, medium dish, small dish (+ lids), mixing bowl, colander, cooling rack
utensils: ladle, spatula, 2 wooden spoons, measuring spoons, measuring cup, funnel, thermometer, small spatula, grater/zester, can opener, tea strainer, knife
linens: tea towels, potholders, washcloths
appliances: blender, microwave, toaster, kettle, coffee press (no need for filters), hand-cranked coffee grinder
various jars for bulk, small cooler
2 tea tins of recipe cards (maybe i could get this down to one tin)
when starting to move toward zero-waste, jars are the thing to collect. as spaghetti sauce, jam, or apple sauce gets eaten, wash out the jar, take it to the store and fill it with bulk oatmeal, flour, honey or beans. i like to use jarred concentrate bullion. the jars it comes in are perfect for spices, and i'm collecting them slowly. bonne-mama jam jars make great drinking glasses or jars in which to freeze your own jam or tomato sauce. use what you have already. grow your collection slowly and switch to bulk + homemade as new ingredients are needed. skip the middle aisles + frozen section at the store and build your meals around what is fresh and in season. bring a few extra tote bags you've got laying around to carry the groceries home. soon there will be no more (or at least a lot less) packaging waste.
if we have left overs, i put them in an appropriately sized jar for an individual portable lunch...or in one of my glass dishes + lid...or in my mixing bowl (or smaller bowl) + plate on top...or on a plate + bowl on top. i haven't come across anything that this did not work for. leafy greens can be washed and wrapped in the towel they were set to dry on...and then placed in the fridge, they keep longer. no more saran wrap, aluminum foil, ziploc bags, plastic containers, or even bee's wax wraps necessary.
we don't use napkins. we eat right in the kitchen, so the sink is right there if we need it. if you like, cloth napkins can be made out of extra tea towels, a cut up table cloth, or spare fabric.
when friends come over, we use our dishes as usual and wash them afterward. no need for paper plates, disposable napkins or plastic cups.
notice any past their prime dishtowels? these can be cut in half (+ hemmed, if you like) and are the start to the rag collection. soon worn out t-shirts will join their ranks. when these are too holey to use, they can be composted (not true of microfiber). no more paper towels.
we're well on our way to zero-waste...and it didn't cost a thing! :)