Who hasn’t been in a rush in the morning and packed their lunch – or the child’s – using plastic sandwich bags and bottled water? We know these are not the best choices, environmentally, but making better choices can seem daunting. We’ve also heard that single-use plastics are one of the largest pollution problems in the world. But how bad is it, really?
It turns out, the numbers are staggering. According to a global study conducted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, plastic waste will nearly double in the next 30 years. However, there are ways we can prevent 12,000 million metric tons of plastic waste from being generated in 2050. Many of these ways start by finding more sustainable products – that won’t break the bank – to use in our home kitchens.
GET A BRAND NEW BAG: Those plastic bags that you fill up with produce at the market certainly are handy, but they typically just get tossed away. There are several alternatives that can be used repeatedly.
- Flip and Tumble lets you fill and carry your fruits and vegetables in reusable, washable mesh bags that are made from eco-friendly cotton. These 12×14 inch bags are useful too for travel, laundry, small toys and other items.
- The Vijibag does more than just hold your produce, it doubles as a veggie saver — moisten it before placing into the refrigerator and it keeps your veggies fresher longer.
- The Baggu Shopping Bag is made with light but quite strong ripstop nylon and it comes in nearly 40 different colorful designs.
ZAP THE ZIPLOCK: Sealable plastic bags are easy to find on store shelves, but they aren’t earth-friendly. It is, however, easy to find eco-minded storage bags with a little sleuthing.
- Composed out of non-toxic silicone, Stasher is a highly popular reusable bag. They are well-constructed, come in many sizes and colors, and they’re dishwasher safe!
- rezip Storage Bag gives you the clear look of a plastic bag, but these versatile reusable bags are made from PVC-free, BPA-free, and lead-free PEVA.
Food Huggers are particularly good to preserve food. They are the folks behind the avocado-shaped Avocado Huggers, but they also have a variety of other cute silicone caps to fit leftovers from bananas to onions.
MIND THE BEESWAX (AND OTHER COVERS): Plastic wraps are not environmentally friendly and annoying to unroll, but a variety of alternatives exist that are more sustainable and less likely to get all tangled up while you try to use it.
- Beeswax wraps, which are cotton sheets coated in beeswax, are reusable, washable, compostable, and fun to use. There are a number of companies in the beeswax business, with Bee’s Wrap being one of more popular ones and boasting strong Amazon ratings.
- Silicon lids are a popular choice for earth-friendly covers. You can choose from many different companies and styles – from stretchy covers like Orblue or snug lids such as FiveTwo – most are heat and cold resistant.
- Wegreeco makes reusable bowl covers that come in several festive designs. These covers are elastic-y so they fit securely. While machine washable, they can’t be used in the oven or microwave.
THE GLASS IS GREEN: Glass jars might seem old-fashioned, but they also hold 21st century ecological goodness. Remember too that you can recycle the glass jars you bought for pasta sauce, jams, olives, or other items.
- Mason Jars were invented by John Mason in 1858 and the famous Ball Mason Jar has been around since 1880, and they remain a great, and highly sustainable, way to store food.
- Brabantia has a line of stylish modern glass containers that are stackable and come with a sturdy silicone lid.
- Frego’s award-winning container features a glass bowl that fits into a silicone sleeve – topped with a double-seal silicone lid. Free of BPA, PVC, polystyrene, lead or plastics, the versatile Frego can go into the fridge, freezer, microwave, oven, and dishwasher.
CLEANER CLEANUPS: Paper towels are another environmental bad habit that can be broken with both traditional and innovative methods. When you go looking for paper towel substitutes, consider paper napkins as well.
- Kitchen + Home make bamboo towels that are durable and washable enough to use, in their estimations, over 120 times with one roll replacing six months of paper towels. While your own results might vary, bamboo towels will be more reusable and more biodegradable than paper ones.
- Made of natural cotton and cellulose from wood, Skoy Cloths are all natural, absorbent, machine washable, and biodegradable. They provide a terrific alternative to paper towels as well as working well as sponges and washcloths.
- Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Dish Towels also offer great versatility. These 100% pure ring-spun cotton towels obviously work as cleaning towels and, because they are breathable, they can also be used for warming up bread or sweating out vegetables.
RETHINK REFUSE: You can be more thoughtful about how you dispose of your garbage by making your waste less wasteful.
- Trash bags aren’t just made of plastic anymore. Nowadays, you can go with biodegradable bags, like Ecosafe, or compostable bags, like UNNI – and even Glad makes a compostable kitchen bag now. Discover which type fits your lifestyle best.
- Compost bins let you return your organic waste back to the earth. There are many styles to consider – although try to find one that is sustainable, like the Bamboozle Compost Bin or the Norpro Ceramic Compost Keeper.
Additionally, considering “recycling” your food scraps. With Souper Cubes, you can freeze leftover fruits, vegetables, and even chicken bones to use them later for things like soup stock to fruit crisps.