Do you want a more sustainable kitchen? In this article we’ll look at 15 green, sustainable kitchen swaps that even you or I can make.
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I have been trying to reduce my household waste, and starting in the kitchen with sustainable kitchen swaps is a great place to make a large dent in your trash.
The title of “Swaps…that EVEN YOU can make” isn’t intended to be offensive. It’s meant to show that they are easy, and yes you too can make them. They don’t require any significant investment of time or energy. They are just small changes that you can make to live a little “greener.”
Some of the swaps have a product associated with the swap, but buying a new item isn’t always necessary: reusing items you already have is definitely doable.
Table of Contents
- 1 List of 15 Green, Sustainable Kitchen Swaps to Aim toward Zero Waste
- 1.1 UnPaper Towel
- 1.2 Dish Detergent Swap
- 1.3 Cleaning Sponge Swap
- 1.4 Green Sustainable Mopping Alternatives
- 1.5 Say Goodbye to Single-use Plastic Cling Wrap
- 1.6 Refill your Spice Jars
- 1.7 Got milk?
- 1.8 Reusable Produce Bags
- 1.9 Mason Jar Mania
- 1.10 Restaurant Take out Refusals
- 1.11 Buy in Bulk
- 1.12 Look at what is NOT ALLOWED at your Recycling Facility and Reduce these items
- 1.13 Learn how to Bake
- 1.14 Food Waste Collection Bin
- 1.15 Cloth Napkins to wipe your hands and face
List of 15 Green, Sustainable Kitchen Swaps to Aim toward Zero Waste
If you go onto Amazon you will find lots of alternatives to traditional paper towel such as the re-usable washable bamboo towels below.
Its funny how on Pinterest there are pins that talk about “unpaper towel” and someone commented, “we used to call these rags.” And I totally agree with that.
Its just that many of us are brainwashed into thinking that if something spills onto the kitchen counter or onto the floor well we gotta grab the paper towel for that. Which is kind of silly when you think about it. Just don’t hang the “floor spill rag” back onto the oven handle: put it into the laundry pile or wash it by hand in the sink with a bit of soap right away.
Dish Detergent Swap
A plastic bottle of liquid dish soap has been a staple of kitchen countertops for over 60 years now. For most of us its just the way it is.
But with the movement to reduce plastic more eco-conscious consumers are turning to other alternatives.
For instance, I just recently learned that you can use bar soap to clean dishes. I bought a bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap and have it sitting on a soap dish on the lip of the kitchen sink. I rub my cleaning sponge across it, lather it up and then wash my dishes.
It seems to leave a slight residue on the dishes, but not an intolerable amount.
Other options include buying larger bottles of dish soap and then just refilling the bottle on the counter.
If you are lucky you may have stores in your area that sell detergent and cleaning products in bulk where you bring in your own bottles and then refill them directly from the store’s supply.
Cleaning Sponge Swap
We are still using up a bulk pack of cleaning sponges (from Costco I think) so I haven’t tried these alternatives yet, but I’ve read about natural sponges that are compostable once you are finished with them.
Are they sustainably sourced though? This I’m not sure about.
I do know that for my childhood and most of my adult years I used dish rags (square pieces of cloth) to wash the dishes. Then I’d hang dry them and use them a few times before washing them with other laundry.
Interestingly I can’t remember when I started using scrub sponges to wash dishes. Hmm…
Below are some dish rags made from organic cotton available on Amazon.
You may also like these 7 Zero Waste Kitchen Gift Ideas
Green Sustainable Mopping Alternatives
Instead of using single-use disposable floor wipes you can use re-usable washable wipes. Or just use a rag and attach it to your mop head.
You can make your own floor cleaning solution by using vinegar and water.
Say Goodbye to Single-use Plastic Cling Wrap
And say hello to reusable food storage wraps such as beeswax-soaked cotton wraps.
Another option that will minimize waste is the “shower-cap looking bowl covers.” I’m not sure of the proper name of them, but they look like a shower cap that you stretch over the top of your bowl. I realize most of them are plastic, but if you are using them a thousand times instead of just once like plastic cling wrap, then you have minimized a lot of waste.
My mom has a set of various sizes of these shower-cap thingies and she has used them for years (and years).
Another thing my mom does for food storage is she reuses plastic yogurt containers to store leftovers. Which is awesome, but I think she needs a better labeling system. Because when you got a hankering for blueberry yogurt and you open it up to find coleslaw…well your heart sinks just a little.
Below is a picture of small beeswax storage sheets that you can buy on Amazon if you don’t feel like making your own. These particular ones are fairly small but would be good to wrap up veggies or cover bowls.
Refill your Spice Jars
We are lucky enough to have a bulk food store in our area called the “Bulk Barn” where you can bring in your own clean jars and containers to have them refilled. The clerk needs to weigh the jars first then you are free to fill them up.
It is a better option that having a whole bunch of plastic spice baggies in a cupboard, or having to buy a new plastic spice bottle each time.
If you are starting off scratch, or if you want matching glass spice jars, the set listed below is available on Amazon and is quite popular.
You likely do. It may not be cow’s milk but most of us have some sort of milk drink in the fridge (i.e. almond milk, soy milk, etc…)
Is yours in a plastic jug? Some companies sell milk in a glass jars. If you are looking to reduce or minimize your plastic waste then look for these glass options at the supermarket.
Reusable Produce Bags
These lightweight mesh bags fit easily into your reusable shopping bags and make buying vegetables a sustainable breeze.
Because they are very lightweight they won’t add much to the price of your veggies when you pay by weight.
Just think about when you go to the grocery store how many little plastic bags you end up bringing home and discarding right away!
The bag in the picture below is available on Amazon from a company called purifyou.
Mason Jar Mania
Canning jars are incredibly versatile. Obviously canning fruits and veggies is a good way to minimize waste and ensure you have a bountiful supply of produce all year long. But canning is just the tip of the iceberg of things you can do with these glass wonders.
If you want to see some of the amazing mason jar accessories that are available check out my post on Awesome Mason Jar Accessories.
You can also freeze food in the straight-shouldered mason jars, but you need to leave room for expansion so don’t fill to the top.
Restaurant Take out Refusals
I love eating out, but with a toddler it isn’t always an option. So if we want to treat ourselves to restaurant food we usually get take out.
But if you’re bringing the food home and eating it at home then why do you need the plastic forks, extra chopsticks, straws, ketchup and soy packets, or paper napkins? Short answer is you don’t. Long answer may be that you never thought to refuse it before.
Well this simple refusal is a no-brainer.
Buy in Bulk
When I say buy in bulk I don’t mean buy an excessive quantity that is beyond your usual consumption. (That is just wasteful consumerism…nudge, nudge Costco.) I mean buy from a place that allows you to select the quantity of the product you want from a bulk bin and put into your own container.
For instance, my local recycling facility does not accept cereal liner bags. Its not that I eat that much breakfast cereal (I don’t anymore anyway…I treat it more as dessert than breakfast), but to minimize waste I could reuse a cereal bag and bring it to the Bulk Barn or other bulk food store to refill it.
Or you can use glass jars, old air-tight containers, etc…
Look at what is NOT ALLOWED at your Recycling Facility and Reduce these items
I hinted at this above talking about cereal bags, but you can expand the concept.
Take a look at your local recycling facility’s abilities. What can they recycle? More importantly in this discussion, what can’t they recycle?
Learn how to Bake
There are some damn good granola bars out there! But the individual wrappers are not recyclable at my local depot because they’re usually foil wrappers.
Contrast this with most baking supplies that you can buy in paper bags, in cardboard boxes, or in bulk as I’ve mentioned above: very little waste here.
Find yourself a good recipe that contains your favorite ingredients, carve out some time on a Sunday afternoon and bake your own granola bars. There are even some no-bake varieties that are perfect for hot summer days.
Below is a picture of some homemade granola bars that my girlfriend whipped together yesterday. The angle I took the picture at that makes it look like miniature food, but that is a 8″X8″ baking dish. (They are delicious BTW.)
Food Waste Collection Bin
We started a backyard compost bin about 5 years ago, but to be honest I don’t really compost “properly”. I throw my food scraps in there and some yard waste when I remember, but rarely do I turn it or maintain it like I’m supposed to. My opinion is that I’d rather throw it in there than have it go to the landfill.
I have friends with even bigger backyards than I do, and when I ask them why they don’t compost they usually say they don’t want the “stink” in the kitchen.
A lot of people don’t know that there are kitchen food waste collection bins that eliminate smell, and they look cool too! The one in the picture below is a stainless steel, non-rusting food waste bin available on Amazon; it has a tight fitting lid to lock in odors.
I currently use a green plastic bin with a charcoal pad in the lid to minimize smells. It works well for us. The bin above looks cooler than mine, but why fix what ain’t broken.
If the cool stainless bin pictured above is not what you’re looking for, I thought I’d provide another option.
The bin below is a plastic bin – so folks wanting to use less plastic won’t like this one – but it is a less expensive option for you to minimize food trash. It is a popular option, available on Amazon.
Cloth Napkins to wipe your hands and face
This ties in to section above about “Un-paper towel” but in this case I’m talking about wiping dirty faces and hands, and not dirty floors and counters. Rags work well for cleaning up spilled juice, but you may want something a little more refined for eating at the table: enter a nice set of napkins.
Sorry about the white on white picture below…it makes it hard to see…but those are pack of cloth napkins for sale on Amazon.
Hopefully this next picture will show up better. It is a reusable HEMP napkin. I see upon closer inspection it is 55% Hemp and 45% organic cotton. It is also available on Amazon. It could be a good conversation starter with your friends.
I hope you enjoyed scanning through my list of 15 easy, green sustainable kitchen swaps, and I think by now you’ll realize that yes even you can do it. 🙂