If you want a more eco-friendly home, the kitchen is full of opportunities. Ditch disposable plastics in exchange for reusable food storage. Replace toxic chemicals with natural cleaners.
There are lots of changes you can make. But to get the whole family on board, it helps to start small. These are the painless, commonsense swaps I’ve made for a greener kitchen.
Note: This article contains affiliate links. See my disclosures for details.
Creating an Eco-Friendly Kitchen
Before emptying your cabinets and starting from scratch, keep these simple sustainability tips in mind.
- Use what you have first. Don’t throw away all of your plastic bags, paper towels and mainstream cleaning products. Use them up, and then switch to more environmentally friendly options as needed.
- Reuse as much as possible. Look for long-lasting reusable items instead of disposable ones.
- DIY all day. Is there anything you can make instead of buying?
Eco-Friendly Kitchen Products
1. Beeswax Food Wraps
When you run out of plastic wrap, try switching to beeswax wraps. They are perfect for storing partially used cheese, fruits and veggies, like when you only need half an orange. I use my wraps all the time for covering cans of cat food.
If your house is cold, it helps to warm up the wraps in your hands before molding them around food or dishes. You can wash and reuse them many times, revive them in the oven, and even make your own with 100% cotton fabric and beeswax pellets.
Plus they’re all just too cute.
2. Reusable Zip-Top Bags
Disposable plastic baggies are expensive these days, so switching to reusable food storage is an easy choice. Stasher, a California certified green business, makes highly rated sandwich bags that are dishwasher and freezer safe.
$20 Off Imperfect Foods: Consider sustainable food sources, like imperfect produce that would otherwise go to waste. You can get $20 off your first Imperfect Foods order through my referral link. Enjoy fresh groceries delivered to your door, and help feed a hungry writer (me).
3. Heirloom Quality Cookware
Most pots and pans wear out after several years, but a cast iron skillet is something you can pass down in your will. If you’re worried that cast iron is too heavy, you might like Lodge’s Chef Collection products. They are a bit smoother and lighter weight.
By following some simple maintenance tips, I will have my cast iron cookware for life. That means hundreds of dollars in savings over the years and no more sending damaged pans to the landfill.
And I’ve been making BREAD, and lava cake, and creamy pork chops in mushroom sauce, and Dutch babies…
4. Wooden Dish Brushes
Out with the smelly plastic kitchen sponges and in with the wooden dish brushes. These brushes dry quickly and last for a long time. They can be used for cleaning food or dishes in the kitchen, or for cleaning other areas of the house like the bathroom. Just label each brush accordingly. 😉
5. EPA Certified Dish Soaps and Detergents
Awhile back we were looking for a dishwasher detergent without all the unnatural add-ons, so we switched to Seventh Generation. It has no synthetic fragrances, dyes or chlorine bleach, and it is Safer Choice certified by the EPA. Seventh Generation also makes dish soap, and I love that their products are easy to find at Target.
Clean and Green: Search the EPA’s database by keyword to find Safer Choice certified soaps and cleaning products.
6. Natural All-Purpose Cleaners
I am interested in the idea of making my own DIY cleaner, kinda sorta, someday. But for now buying natural cleaning products is an easy choice.
Blueland is a Climate Neutral certified cleaner with an interesting concept. You buy the BPA-free spray bottle once, then dissolve a refill packet in the bottle as needed. That means no energy wasted on shipping water, and no plastic going to the landfill as long as you keep reusing the bottle.
7. “Unpaper” Kitchen Towels
Sometimes you just want to wipe up a mess with a paper towel and toss it out of your life for good. But it’s more sustainable to opt for kitchen towels and washcloths that you can reuse over the long term. Try keeping a stack of small towels by the sink to make them easily accessible.
You could also cut up old T-shirts for those times when you don’t want to use your nice towels (e.g. when the cat’s having a bad hairball day).
8. Cloth Napkins
Along those lines, you might want to switch from disposable to reusable napkins. We recently made a big batch of DIY cloth napkins. Not only are they more eco-friendly, but they also make meals feel fancy and fun.
Wonderfully Renewable Bamboo: If you’re not ready to say goodbye to paper towels and napkins, you might want to try the bamboo alternative. Betterway makes paper towels from bamboo instead of trees. And if they wanted to harvest the bamboo renewing itself in my yard, that’d be great.
9. Biodegradable Garbage Bags
I feel better about buying disposable trash bags when they’re plant-based and biodegradable. Hippo Sak garbage bags are made from sugar cane, earning them a USDA Certified Bio-Based badge. They come with handles, and I can confirm that they are thick enough to hold heavy cat litter without breaking.
Biodegradable bags tend to be thicker while compostable bags are thinner and break down faster. As a cat owner, I’m using the thicker bags for now.
Trash Bag Debate: Learn more about biodegradable vs. compostable garbage bags.
Eco-Friendly Kitchen Resources
I hope you found some eco-friendly swaps you’d like to try in your kitchen.
You might also want to visit your library, one of the best sustainable resources. During my research for this article, I checked out lots of inspiring library books.
- Simply Living Well, by Julia Watkins: Get practical tips to work toward a zero-waste lifestyle, including tutorials for DIY beeswax wraps and natural cleaning products.
- How to Go Plastic Free, by Caroline Jones: Discover 100 simple switches you can make to reduce your use of plastic.
- The Zero-Waste Chef, by Anne-Marie Bonneau: Learn how to cut way back on plastic and food waste, including how to make your own yogurt and sour cream so you don’t have to buy them in plastic containers anymore.