Trying to create a sustainable kitchen? These plastic-free kitchen products are essential to help you reduce, reuse, and generate less waste.
This post contains gifted items (as noted) but most are straight from my kitchen shelf!
If you are like me, you want to cut back on single-use plastics and other products that are not environmentally friendly. In the spirit of Earth Day, I’m sharing some of my favorite plastic alternatives for the kitchen.
Top Ways to Cut Back on Single-Use Plastics
- Buy less stuff. Do you need that new set of plasticware from Target? Maybe not. If you do need new storage containers, try glass ones.
- Get take out less often. This one is hard. Think about all of the plastic that comes with each order from the bag, utensils, and container(s) to straws, it adds up.
- Skip single-use plastics. Seems obvious. But once we really start paying attention, you’ll notice that they are everywhere. Now is also a good time to start opting out of styrofoam and other materials that cannot be recycled. Look instead for bamboo, ceramic, glass, and the other materials I’ll discuss below.
Now on to my favorite sustainable food storage and reusable kitchen products to replace plastic!
NOTE: You don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of new “sustainable” products.
In fact, buying less is a key way to reduce and reuse. Look for these items around the house, at the thrift store, or buy them at a regular store.
Go green with glass
Glass jars are a staple and not just for canning. I use them to keep the pantry organized, carry mason jar salads, store leftovers, and make and carry overnight oats. They are durable, attractive, and dishwasher safe.
I may be a little food jar obsessed. I use them to store grains, nuts, dried fruit, and seeds in the pantry. But I recently discovered (gifted) Kilner’s Snack on the Go and breakfast jars. They make it convenient to prep these foods the night before so you can simply grab and go. I store leftovers in glass dishes too.
Did you know you can freeze soups, stews, nuts,… almost anything in glass jars?
Yes. You can freeze in glass jars. Look closely at the jar to find the “fill line.” It’s purposely placed as a guide. Fill below that line to allow enough space for liquids to expand and you won’t have any trouble with broken glass or bulging tops. That said, consider using small jars or plan to let the food thaw in the refrigerator for up to a day.
Try reusable food wraps
That sticky, plastic wrap was never my friend. It’s so hard to work with! Luckily there are alternatives. I loved the idea of beeswax reusable food wraps since I first heard about them a few years ago.
What are beeswax wraps? It’s a piece of cloth coated in beeswax to make a perfectly shapeable cover for bowls, plates, cheese, fruit and more.
I found the ones featured above online but Trader Joe’s has a set for $8.99. They are not as pretty in my opinion and I think you have to wash them several times to break them in. But in the end, they work. If you have a little time on your hands and consider yourself even the tiniest bit crafty, you can make your own reusable food wrap or watch this homemade beeswax wrap YouTube tutorial to see if you’re up for the challenge!
I want to try this one day. One day. But for now, I’ve got my eye on this beeswax wrap.
Stick to stainless steel jars, bottles, and straws
Stainless steel food jars are a new favorite. Mira offers some very attractive (gifted) insulated stainless steel food jars that make it easy to take hot or cold foods on the go. It helps keep the food hot for up to 5 hours and cold for 10 hours. These are perfect for work, picnics, and a day of hiking.
I gave up plastic water bottles many years ago. I used hard plastic ones since then but for years now, I’ve been using stainless steel bottles for both cold and hot drinks. These by Kleen Kanteen have lasted me for years. You can probably see the wear on these but both still work perfectly.
I’ll be honest. I like stainless steel straws but I don’t use them that often. They are easy to clean but you must keep up with the little cleaning brush. I much prefer silicone ones for ease of use and flexibility.
Stick with reusable straws and snack bags
Silicone is another sustainable material that I’ve recently started to use more often. And there are many options. Above is my Stasher snack bag. They are dishwasher safe and quite durable. You can use stashers and other silicone bags for snacks, sandwiches, fruit and even for heating things up – though I haven’t done that.
A few months ago, we were at a neighborhood pub. This is not one of those organic, grass fed everything places. But they’ve gone straw-free! I love this move but I do still like straws when I’m eating out. I was excited to see that one company has the perfect solution. These reusable silicone straws come in a little tin and can be carried in your purse or pocket.
I love using parchment to keep cookies from sticking and baking pans clean, but I don’t love the waste. One of my favorite things to use for baking cookies is my Silpat. It’s easy to clean and the cookies slide right off. I’ve had mine for about 10 years now and it’s as good as new. Though, full disclosure, I don’t bake cookies that often.
Speaking of snack bags, swap the zip top and foldable plastic bags for reusable ones. These Wegreeco reusable sandwich and snack bags are perfect for many different foods.
And yes. It’s more work. It’s a lot easier to just use plastic but if you’re like me, you won’t feel as good about it.
Remember your reusable shopping bags
I get SO many bags. As a registered dietitian, I can literally walk through a conference expo hall and get a lifetime worth of bag in the matter of an hour. Vendors hand them out like candy. No kidding. But they are not all good bags.
Look for bags made of a quality cotton canvas material or recycled materials. And here’s the thing. Those bags make it much easier to get your groceries home. The bags are stronger than the flimsy plastic ones, hold more stuff and easily go across the shoulder versus cutting into your hands when you’re carrying too much and barely making it to the front door. And they let you keep your hands free for important things like opening and closing doors.
My tips on remembering to use reusable shopping bags? Put them in your trunk. After emptying, hang the bags on the front door handle so you remember to take them back out of the house. Store the bags in the trunk so you’ll always have them on hand.
Also. Wash your bags.
Seriously. Did you see that study about bacteria on shopping bags?
Swap cloth napkins and towels for paper towels
I’ve been using these for YEARS. Like. I don’t remember how long ago I bought them. But I got a pack at target and they’ve been through the wash too many times to count. These cloth napkins save some on paper towels. Wash them separately and keep them folded neatly in a designated area away from cleaning cloths. You don’t want those two to get swapped!
We have a set of bar mop style towels for cleaning the counters and such. This way the two don’t get mixed up. With these two types of linens plus your dish towels and drying towels, you should be all set to keep paper towel use to a minimum.
That’s it for now. Please share your favorites below! I’d love to hear. And I’ll keep adding favorites to this list so check back often.