Saturday, December 9, 2023

The 9 Must-Have Kitchen Essentials for a Waste-Free Home


From reusable paper towels to recycled plastic cutting boards, rid your home of waste with these innovative, sustainable kitchen products.

The kitchen is undeniably the heart of the home. But, from food scraps to dirty paper towels and used dish sponges, kitchens are also where some of the most household waste is generated.

If you’re like us, the thought of sending anything to a landfill breaks your heart. It’s understandable — collectively, our waste-making habit is a big problem for the planet.

Fortunately, when it comes to the kitchen, there are sustainable and zero-waste alternatives to virtually every product. And they’re often a bona fide upgrade to the originals, too, made from higher quality materials and with designs that match your style and your ethos.

Shop locally and support sustainable farmers

One of the best ways to reduce your kitchen’s carbon footprint is to opt for locally-grown produce when you grocery shop. This way, you’ll be supporting local farmers while reducing the amount of energy required to transport food from faraway locations. Look for true organic products to make sure you’re only buying items that have been produced without damaging the environment.

Generating less kitchen waste

If you’re looking to eliminate waste in the kitchen, one of the easiest places to start is with your fridge. Aside from ensuring you have an energy-efficient refrigerator, you can better organize your fridge to be active in keeping your food waste down. n the U.S., the average person wastes about one pound of food each day, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. 

sustainable kitchen products
Courtesy Roam in Color on Unsplash

Instead of throwing away your food scraps, try composting them with the likes of this sustainably-made bamboo compost bin, which can be easily stored on your kitchen countertop. You can then use the fertilizer to nourish your houseplants or home garden. You can also use your food scraps to make DIY beauty products like a coffee ground or fruit face scrub. 

Another area of your kitchen that you can target is plastic. Swap out your produce bags, bulky plastic storage containers, and clunky soap bottles for longer-lasting products that don’t take up as much storage space. Less is more, after all, right? Sustainable marketplace Public Goods offers a number of biodegradable kitchen alternatives to single-use plastic, including reusable silicone storage bags and bowl covers.

And before you throw out any old kitchen items, think of ways that you can reuse or repurpose them instead. For example, Mason jars make great storage containers for pantry staples like rice, beans, and grains. Plastic containers can be used to store leftovers in the fridge or freezer. And old fabric scraps can become dish towels and reusable grocery bags! With a bit of creativity, you can find new uses for just about anything in your kitchen.

Choose eco-friendly cleaning products

Switching to natural ingredients like vinegar and baking soda is another easy way to ditch harsh chemicals while still keeping your kitchen clean and sanitary. You can also make your own cleaning solutions with a few simple ingredients or opt for eco-friendly products that are specifically designed to be safer for the environment.

Sustainable swaps for an eco-friendly kitchen

By replacing regularly used items like plastic storage bags and containers, you’ll quickly make a dent in your kitchen excess. And for more easy swaps, check out these sustainable kitchen essentials, from recycled plastic cutting boards to reusable paper towels.

1. Zero-waste cleaning kit

Clean your dishes sustainably with plastic-free cleaning products from the zero-waste home goods brand EcoRoots. 

The Zero Waste Cleaning Kit includes the Vegan Dish Block — a fragrance-free dish soap — a bamboo soap dish, and a wooden cleaning brush. The latter features a handle made of sustainable German beech wood and a detachable brush made of sisal, which comes from the leaves of a flowering plant native to Mexico.

Reusable dish cloths

2. Reusable paper towels

Maybe you moved to reusable hand towels and napkins years ago. But doesn’t it seem like there’s still always a roll of paper towels lingering in the kitchen? Call it a security blanket of sorts, especially for parents cleaning up the random ick. Helpful, indeed. But it’s not exactly sustainable.

These 100 percent organic, reusable cloths are oh-so-in and make a great alternative to paper. They’re also super absorbent. Plus, the set also comes with matching hand towels.

3. Recycled plastic cutting board

It’s time to say goodbye to your kitchen’s plastic waste-generating cutting boards. That’s right, your cutting boards just got a major upgrade. Meet: the reBoard by Material Kitchen. Available in six colorful options, including light blue, coral, and green, the BPA-free cutting boards are made out of kitchen plastic scraps and renewable sugarcane. 

4. Sparkling water maker

Even if you make every effort to place your cans and bottles into recycling bins, there’s no guarantee they’re going to get properly recycled. So the best option? Stop using them altogether.

The Aarke offers a sleek alternative to aluminum cans and plastic bottle waste. It’s easy to use, and comes with a safe, nontoxic bottle to make and store your carbonated water in. And while that’s a plastic bottle (PET), it’s not meant as a one-time use. It’ll last years, keeping plastic, glass, or cans out of landfills.

sustainable kitchen products

5. Reusable coffee filter

If you are a coffee addict you have probably gone through your fair share of coffee makers. It seems like no matter how high-end the electric coffee makers are, without fail they die after a few years. Who wants to keep sending electronics (and plastic) to the landfill year after year?

Enter: the glass pour-over. Not only are they more sustainably made, with glass and stainless steel versus plastic, but they can also last for decades with proper care. It also looks so much cuter on kitchen counters, too.

Need some fair-trade coffee to go with your new pour-over? Check out our favorite sustainable coffee brands.

6. Cotton mesh produce bag

These are life-changing. One pack will last you years. It also helps keep your tumbling onions, pears, and carrots a bit more organized. Wash them and store them with your grocery totes so you always remember to take them with you.

silicone storage lids

7. Silicone Food Savers 

Sick of putting half of an onion in an oversized container that takes up an enormous amount of room in your fridge? These food savers allow for easy preservation and storage for your half-eaten produce.

silicone stasher bag

8. Silicone Bags

Plastic baggies are another thing we use once and toss immediately. Well, those days are over now that silicone food savers are a thing. These Stasher bags are eco-friendly, reusable, and easy to wash. Keep your veggies and fruit fresh in style. 

linen bread bag

9. Linen Bread Bag

Buying fresh and crusty loaves of bread is one of the best things in the whole world, right? Buy and store it sustainably with this chic linen bread bag you can wash and reuse. It helps keep your bread fresher, too.

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