For most of us, the kitchen is the hub of the home, the place where we congregate with family and friends, and, in these Covid-impacted times, often complete our work or educational tasks. Unfortunately, the kitchen can be the room where it is most difficult to make eco-friendly choices. Single-use plastic packaging, harsh chemical cleaners, and disposable products are easily available and can seem like the most logical choice when food safety is on the line. But there is good news for the eco-conscious — green, sustainable products are making a comeback in the kitchen, and they’re easier to use than ever before. Here are 7 easy, sustainable kitchen swaps that can keep your home’s heart beating strong, while reducing your environmental footprint.
1. Trade Plastic Food Storage For Glass
The first rule of sustainable living is to use what you have, so there’s no need to rush out to switch your plastic food storage containers for glass ones all at once. However, as containers wear out, or you find yourself with a stack of containers without lids that fit, consider glass or ceramic alternatives. Beautiful and functional, these containers usually have rigid, long-lasting lids made of sturdy silicone and plastic, but they’ll last a lot longer than typical plastic food storage.
In addition to being a sustainable choice, glass containers have a number of advantages over their plastic counterparts. Glass is non-porous, so it won’t stain or absorb food odors, and it can be washed at higher temperatures, making it safer for reuse. Many glass containers are oven and freezer safe, making them a versatile option for a number of uses. And, their rigid snap-on lids provide an airtight seal, meaning your leftovers will last longer in the fridge or freezer without leaking or tasting funny.
2. Cloth Or Bamboo Napkins And Kitchen Towels Instead Of Wasteful Paper Products
As much as we try to avoid them, spills and overflows are an inevitable part of life for the home cook. Instead of reaching for the paper towels, consider keeping a supply of sustainable, good-looking bamboo kitchen towels on hand. Bamboo is soft, more absorbent than household paper towels, and can manage even the toughest spills without tearing or disintegrating in your hand.
To avoid waste at the table, consider a set of sturdy cloth napkins that can be washed and reused. If you’re concerned about having to wash your napkins too frequently, consider these “semi-reusable” cloth napkins that will last for about six washes each.
3. Try Reusable Silicone Storage Bags And Beeswax Paper Instead Of Baggies Or Plastic Wrap
You’ve likely already replaced the single-use plastic bags you get at the grocery store with sustainable, reusable cloth bags and totes, so why not up your game when it comes to the kitchen? It’s undoubtedly true that single-use plastics are among the toughest items to replace with eco-friendly alternatives, but new swaps can make your single-use plastics all but a thing of the past. Resealable sandwich bags are a kitchen staple when it comes to packing lunches or storing small items. Reusable, self-sealing silicone bags are a long-lasting alternative to these single-use baggies. These reusable bags are food-safe, dishwasher, microwave, and freezer friendly, and can be easily tossed in a lunch kit and brought home to wash.
Like plastic sandwich bags, plastic wrap is a kitchen staple, and it can be tough to think about replacing it altogether in your kitchen. However, for many uses, like wrapping up leftover fruits and veggies or half a loaf of bread, that plastic wrap can be replaced with reusable beeswax paper. Strong, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, these papers can be used, washed, and reused, unlike their plastic counterparts.
4. Sustainable Cleaning Products Can Replace Harsh Chemicals
Harsh chemical cleansers might seem like the best way to prevent cross-contamination and keep your kitchen clean and sanitized, but I’ve often sung the praises of eco-friendly alternatives like vinegar, lemon, and baking soda on this blog, and with good reason. Many of the chemicals we use in the kitchen can be safely replaced with environmentally sustainable alternatives that do the job just as well, without rinsing environmentally damaging compounds down the drain.
Consider switching to sustainable cleaning kits for tough kitchen jobs. Using refillable bottles and cleaning tablets, these kits can help you feel confident that your kitchen is thoroughly clean and sanitized while protecting the environment.
5. Swaps For Coffee And Tea
If you use a single-cup coffee brewer, consider swapping single-use plastic pods for a refillable, washable alternative that you can fill with your favorite freshly-ground coffee each morning. When your brewer has reached the end of its natural life, a french press is can be an eco-friendly, washable alternative to wasteful coffee machines. Likewise, a reusable tea infuser and loose-leaf tea can be a great replacement for wasteful teabags in your afternoon or bedtime cup of tea.
6. Try Your Hand At Composting
Kitchen composting doesn’t have to be intimidating, and getting started is easy. A small airtight, water-tight container is a great way to start your composting journey. Food scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells can all go in the container, which can be stored on a corner of the countertop or under the sink. In addition to reducing your kitchen waste, composting is a great way to feed your garden without buying expensive plant food.
7. Replace Plastic Bottles With Glass Or Plant-Based Alternatives
When shopping for dishwashing liquids, hand soaps, or other kitchen essentials, seek out products that are packaged responsibly. Many brands offer plant-based plastic alternatives or cardboard or paper packaging as an alternative to traditional plastic bottles. Other swaps to consider include switching out bar soap for liquid hand soap, and using powdered dishwashing detergent packaged in biodegradable cardboard instead of plastic. Searching for these alternatives may take a bit more time, but makes a big difference in the future of the planet.
Ready to Make Sustainable Swaps In Your Kitchen And Throughout Your Entire Home? We’re Here to Help
Here at Sweeping Dimensions, one of our primary goals is to make cleaning less stressful for you — and more healthy and sustainable for our environment.
We also believe in passing along our green cleaning knowledge, whenever we can. We love to talk all things cleaning and organizing, including the strategies that can make taking care of your home a more sustainable and enjoyable practice. The more people we can bring together in our mission for a healthier world, the better off our planet will be!
So, if you ever have a question about comparing cleaning products, starting a new composting practice, or making a sustainable swap in your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch — we’re always happy to talk shop and try to make a difference, however we can.
At SDCS, we’re sincerely passionate about these issues, dedicated to finding real solutions, and always eager to keep the conversation going.
Curious about what steps you can take to have a positive impact on the environment, in your kitchen or beyond? Want to talk about the best ways to set up an environmentally friendly cleaning for your Chicago home? Contact us today for your free service estimate!