If there’s one place to start making some change in our homes, it’s the kitchen. I think that’s the place where the most money, food, and resources are wasted. And yet it’s such a great place to hang out!! So let’s start working on it. Here are my 5 easy swaps for a sustainable kitchen!
The kitchen is my happy place and it is for everyone else too since that’s always where gathering happens no matter how big or small the house is! With cooking comes the inevitable situation of food storage and cleaning.
Since I have a precarious relationship with plastic wrap and that darn blade on the box, I have a number of reusable kitchen items I’ve been using for years which now, coincidentally, have made our efforts for an eco-friendlier, sustainable kitchen all the more pleasant.
Sustainable Kitchen Items
If you’ve ever thought about the trash in your home, you’ve probably realized that most of it comes from your kitchen. Where else do we have such large bins for refuse (aside from diapers for some of us)? Bringing packaged and take out food into your kitchen is a conundrum in and of itself. So let’s just focus on the single-use items you can replace.
Even if you aren’t super into the eco-friendly thing (hopefully I can convince you though), all of these reusable options actually save so much money and hassle (from needing to constantly replace them), you’ll love them just the same.
Reusable Silicone Lids
REPLACES: plastic wrap, foil, missing lids and covers
USES: to cover food in containers, to cover pots and pans on the stove, to cover bowls in the microwave, and to cover drinks
My mom discovered these reusable lids years ago (10 years now? more?) and swears by them. Not only are they a suction lid for putting items in the refrigerator, they also go on top of pots and pans on the stovetop, and in the oven (up to 420 degrees).
They come in sizes ranging from a drinking glass (great for keeping coffee warm a few extra minutes) to small and medium bowls, to 9×13 baking pans. They store fairly flat in a drawer in our house and are super easy to clean (they even go in the dishwasher).
You’ll see these silicone lids in the fridge, on the stovetop, and on the drying rack at any given time! These are my absolute must for any sustainable kitchen!
silicone baking mats
REPLACES: parchment paper, wax paper, foil
USES: to create nonstick surfaces on baking pans
Silpat baking mats (made of silicone) have been a mainstay for bakers for YEARS. They’ve been in my kitchen for about a decade. I got tired of buying parchment paper once lemon almond biscotti became a constant in my grad school days. So I learned about silpat mats – probably from David Lebovitz – and never looked back!
They come in different sizes (which I didn’t know until recently) and are a lifesaver for cleaning pans, baking cookies, and so much more.
I keep ours rolled in our drawer with all the other wraps, foils, and more. Needless to say my boxes of parchment and wax paper haven’t been used in years and I should probably find a new home for them!
reusable ziploc bags
REPLACES: ALL ziploc baggies (big and small)
USES: anything you’d use a bag for!!
I keep raving about our Stasher reusable bags. And to say that I don’t daily find reasons for more than the few I have would be an outright lie.
These silicone bags come in a range of sizes and colors. I use the half gallon bags to store homemade broth cubes in the freezer and the upright bag is currently holding a block of cheese in the fridge.
We also just got some snack-sized bags for C’s birthday. Since we aren’t doing much snacking on the go right now, I’ve been using one of them to hold random things like his nail file, a pacifier, and toothbrush. I’m planning to make one of them into a mini first aid kit to throw in whatever bag we have.
These bags are resealable, freezable, sous-vide (able), and washable in the dishwasher! They’re also great outside of the kitchen for keeping pens and pencils organized, your makeup in a quick place for traveling….basically anytime you’d use a single-use plastic baggie.
You can even have color coded bags for different needs or members of your family!
dish towels + napkins
Sadly the excitement for dish towels and ESPECIALLY fabric napkins isn’t high, but it should be. The abundant use of paper towels is crazy. I didn’t appreciate the overuse of paper towels until the recent surge in demand for paper goods. I think my husband and I use two rolls of paper towels each year. 2 ROLLS PER YEAR!
How do we use so few? Dish towels and napkins that are washed and reused. Whether you have fancy matching towels and napkins or it’s a hodgepodge – it doesn’t matter.
We do have a trash can under the sink that I use as a “hamper” for dirty towels and napkins. It gets dirty and then it’s thrown in there. When it’s full, I do a quick load to wash them and we’re restocked.
Most people seem to have dish towels, but for linens… You can certainly buy new (check out these solids and these patterns), but you might ask an older family member if they have any extra linens or try a second hand store.
Sustainable Kitchen Cleaning Products
This one sounds kind of funny, but we often forget about what we send down the drain and out with the trash. The ingredients in the cleaning products we use do matter since the water slowly makes its way back into waterways with animals and plants.
Many of us are worried about cleanliness, but don’t think plant-based items aren’t anti-bacterial or just as effective!
Items such as dish soap, hand soap, and dishwasher detergent/pods are great items to swap out and easily make your kitchen more sustainable! And remember if you buy in bulk (or even just refill size packs), you’re saving packaging and transport with every purchase!