The kitchen is often the space that consumes the most single-use items in the house, while maintaining the minimum sustainable practices. However, in the age of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle‘ consumers, several organizations have understood the importance of making mindful choices, while being more environmentally sustainable to help you develop an eco-friendly kitchen.
Introducing eco-friendly practices in your kitchen, the heart of the home, is not only beneficial for the environment but also for everyone who consumes anything prepared in the kitchen. While the process of going sustainable may seem intimidating, there is no need to overhaul your kitchen to replace everything with sustainable alternatives. Instead, gently phase out products and/or practices to create a practical and sustainable culinary environment.
Here are some of the best tried and true swaps that we recommend, for an eco-friendly kitchen:
1. Swap Out Paper Towels/ Napkins For Reusable Cloths
One of the simplest ways to incorporate eco-friendly kitchen products into your home is to swap out single-use napkins and rolls of paper towels. Save a tree, and introduce reusable cloths in your kitchen instead.
Using reusable kitchen cloths made from bird’s eye cotton allows for a soft and absorbent cleaning supply that can easily be machine washed between uses, and swapped out for different materials in the meantime. The cloth can be used to clean up messes of all kinds and of any intensity!
An alternative is the purchase of Swedish dishcloths. Swedish dishcloths were originally made in 1949 from natural biodegradable cellulose or a combination of wood pulp and renewable cotton. These towels come in several different colors and patterns to fit in with any eco-friendly kitchen. They can cut down paper towel consumption up to 80%.
Multi-use tea towels can also be helpful, as they minimize the number of items you need to clean the kitchen and can be used for dry messes, hands, and dishes. But make sure you disinfect or wash them at 60°C (140°F) after each use. Linen napkins are also a flexible alternative to use but are a little harder to wash stains out of.
2. Get Rid of Single-Use Plastic Wraps And Opt For Multi-Use Eco-Friendly Wraps, Instead
The convenience of storing leftover food to eat at a later time is unparalleled. The most convenient way to do this requires plastic wrap or cling film, to minimize oxygen exposure and extend freshness while stored in the fridge. Plastic wrap often contains a number of undesirable chemicals that leave traces on food while also contributing to the carbon footprint of single-use plastics.
Our favorite sustainable way of packing lunches is wrapping them in organic beeswax wraps. Beeswax wraps are often made of cotton scraps coated in a blend of beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin that allows for it to be molded around the food and retain its shape. The wrap can comfortably be reused for up to a year, before being discarded.
For vegans or vegetarians looking to avoid animal-based products, using a vegan wrap made with candelilla and non-GMO soy wax instead of beeswax could be helpful. The wraps come in a wide variety of sizes to fit comfortably, even around open bowls to create an airtight fit.
Bowl covers are also available in reusable and washing machine-safe fabric with an elasticated edge for a snug fit that also offers protection. They are easy to wipe down and can be handy to add a little color and fun into a normally boring process.
For individuals looking for a more sturdy alternative to wraps, buy reusable stretchy lids to store your food in bowls or containers. The wraps are made from tempered glass and silicone, allowing for easy use, durability, and the ability to stack the containers. There are a number of similar options on the market, including simple silicon options in smaller shapes to fit around halved onions, lemons, avocados, and just about any fruit/ vegetable option you can think of.
If you’re considering safe microwave options, do not fret. A little research will offer retailers that sell silicone microwave-safe bowl covers allowing you to not only preserve your food but heat it at your convenience, without introducing new dishes to be washed.
3. Replace Ziploc Bags With Silicon Storage Bags Or Glass Jars
What is easier than storing food in those single-use plastic bags with a Ziploc or snaplock at the top? The honest answer – there are a lot of options! Silicon is a multi-use material that has quickly become popular in the kitchen. Storage bags got the silicon makeover to produce an eco-friendly kitchen product everyone should own.
Silicon storage bags are available in a wide variety of sizes and colors and are often self-sealing. They can be used for storage in freezers, heated in a microwave, and in some cases, even used with a sous-vide machine.
Reusable food bags can also come made from FDA-grade PEVA material. These bags are airtight, can stand up on their own, are leakproof, and zipper topped. The bags come close to the classic Ziploc bag without the escalating price tag needed to replace the bag, after every use.
For families or individuals who are accustomed to using Ziploc bags to store consumables inside their homes, switching to canning jars may be a better alternative. The jars not only look elegant but come with their lids attached to the mouth of the pot; this helps to prevent the dreaded mismatched or lost tops. The jars can also be used to refrigerate food, for use in the freezer, and for storage of bulk goods. Suppose you have a store that sells everyday essentials out of the packaging. In that case, these jars can be taken into the store and filled with your favorite kitchen necessities, without worrying about the carbon footprint.
Other alternatives to Ziploc bags for storage in the eco-friendly kitchen include mason jars and glass containers.
4. Ditch The Plastic Produce Bags And Opt For Eco-Friendly Alternatives
Tempted to give in to the convenience of the single-use produce bags, that are available in a roll by your vegetables and fruits? Stop right there! Here are some eco-friendly kitchen alternatives that help minimize contact with chemicals from plastic while maintaining the functionality of these bags:
- Linen Bread Bags – Its a great alternative to smashing bread into your already full shopping bag. Use linen bread bags to carry rice, pulses like lentils and are great for storing items in bulk.
- Reusable Vegetable Preservation Bags – Often made of cotton, these bags can be wet and used to store fresh produce in the crisper compartment of the fridge. The moisture keeps the greens fresh longer, as opposed to plastic storage bags that cause wilt greens within a moment’s notice.
- Cotton Net Bags – These breathable thatched bags are great for offering both ventilation and storage for all your fruits and vegetables. Store your lemons and lettuce in peace with these all-natural bags.
Individuals looking to live more sustainably can invest in several other eco-friendly kitchen products. These include: avoiding single-use plastic cups, using a steel water bottle, purchasing sustainable dish soap, introducing a composting bin, and using organic all-purpose cleaner formulas.
Be patient with yourself as you stack up the changes. Do your research to figure out the best products available quickly and easily. This will help you understand why you are making the change and offer a consistent product supply. In turn, you’re more likely to maintain the transformation long-term in your eco-friendly kitchen. Better for both you and the environment!