10 Sustainable Kitchen Swaps

Sustainable living is about understanding how your lifestyle choices impact the world around you, and finding ways to live a better life for the good of all humans and the planet. A few examples of how to live sustainably include reducing the number of unnecessary purchases, buying used items, making DIY projects, buying items in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging, and purchasing sustainably made products. When it comes to the kitchen, specifically, there are many opportunities for greener practices, from purchasing more local foods to going more plant-based to composting. It may be challenging to shift all of your kitchen habits overnight, but adding some new practices to your daily routine can really help you live in a way that supports a sustainable lifestyle and planetary wellbeing that works best for you. Here are 10 sustainable kitchen swaps to try today!

That’s why I’m sharing these easy sustainable kitchen swaps that can help you live a little bit greener. These swaps can help reduce the amount of plastic in your home, avoid environmental toxins, and lower use of natural resources, such as trees, water, and energy. But one of the most important changes is reducing our use of single-use plastic products, which are ubiquitous in our food system. Sadly, scientists have found that our oceans are teaming with microplastic content, endangering marine life. Plastic products also can release chlorine, which causes harm to the soil, groundwater, and surface waters. Plus, plastic consumption has led to a large increase in the size of landfills over the years, which release methane, a greenhouse gas. Landfills in the U.S. received 27 million tons of plastic in 2018. Unfortunately, only 3 million tons of this material was recycled. On average, Americans use 70 million plastic water bottles each day, which contributes to 25 billion bottles of plastic each year. 

In order to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills, try to adopt these 10 sustainable swaps in your kitchen. These swaps will not only help reduce the amount of plastic you use on a daily basis, they’ll also reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted in the production, transportation, and discard cycle of an un-reusable product’s life. 

10 Sustainable Kitchen Swaps to Reduce Plastic

1. Instead of throwaway plastic zip bags use reusable silicone bags. These bags will help reduce the number of plastic bags you throw away every day that contribute to 25 million single use plastics in the landfill. The bags can be used to pack up school lunches or store leftover vegetables or fruit. 

2. Use food wax wraps in place of plastic cling wrap. Not only do these wraps help reduce the amount of plastic wrap you use, but it keeps food fresher for longer. Food wax can be wrapped around leftovers or used in place of a lid for a container.

3. Swap plastic shopping bags for reusable grocery bags made from canvas. Canvas bags are sturdier than plastic bags and limit the number of plastic bags used to carry groceries. Plus this swap will help reduce the number of plastic bags ending in landfills. 

4. Store produce with silicon food covers instead of plastic bags or wrap. These silicon covers (called food huggers) fit perfectly over half-used fruits, vegetables, avocadoes, open cans, and much more. These “food huggers” are easy to clean and help preserve produce.

Reusable Produce Bags

5. Store produce in reusable cotton produce bags instead of plastic bags from the grocery store. You can bring these rewashable bags to the grocery store to pack away your fresh produce, then transfer to the fridge at home to store.

6. Scrub dirty pans with biodegradable sponges in place of plastic sponges. These sponges, made from coconut fibers and wood pulp, work as well as conventional ones, but break down into plant fiber when you decide it is time to throw it out, thus no waste!

7. Reduce plastic bottle use by making DYI household cleaners from natural ingredients, like vinegar, water, baking soda, and adding a scent with essential oils. Not only does making your own household cleaners prevent plastic bottles from being wasted, it prevents the use of toxic chemicals in your home.

8. Try a stainless steel water bottle or coffee mug in place of plastic, disposable containers. Plastic water bottles have been shown to leak plastic into your drink, plus plastic water bottles and coffee cups are a huge contributor of landfill waste. Try using a stainless steel water bottle or coffee mug next time you go for a hike or head to a coffee shop.

9. Use metal straws to replace plastic straws. Plastic straws end up polluting the ocean marine life and pose a threat to their health. To prevent further damage to the ocean ecosystem, use reusable metal straws for beverages, at home or on the go.

10. Try wool dryer balls in place of single-use plastic dryer sheets. Wool dryer balls help keep your clothes wrinkle free. Plus, you can add any essential oil to the balls to make your clothes smell fabulous.

In addition to these sustainability kitchen swaps to reduce plastic, you can make a few other new sustainable habits in your kitchen.

  • Eat locally grown, organic food to reduce food miles, and synthetic pesticides and fertilizers applied to the crop. Conventional crops that use large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides and are shipped across the globe collectively contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases.
  • Create a backyard or window-sill garden. Growing your own food reduces the number of petroleum-based inputs related to food, limits greenhouse gas emissions released during transportation, and limits the number of plastic bags used to package produce.
  • Start a compost pile with kitchen straps. This will help prevent more food scraps from ending up in landfills, which would release methane into the atmosphere. This compost pile can be used as healthy soil for your garden, windowsill herb pot, or local community garden.

Written by Michelle Naragon, Dietetic Intern with Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

Photos by Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN and Amazon.

May contain affiliate links.



EPA.  (2020).  Plastics: Material-Specific Data.  Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/plastics-material-specific-data

Krosofsky, A.  (2020).  Zero-Waste Swaps that can Save You Money.  Green Matters. https://www.greenmatters.com/p/zero-waste-swaps-save-money?utm_campaign=Sustainability%20Saturday%20%23134%20%28U9Dfgu%29&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Email%20Openers%20-%20Last%2090%20Days&_ke=eyJrbF9jb21wYW55X2lkIjogInJRbURnVCIsICJrbF9lbWFpbCI6ICJtaWNoZWxsZW5hcmFnb25AZ21haWwuY29tIn0%3D

N.A.  (2018).  10 Simple Swaps for a more Sustainable Kitchen.  Tending the Tablehttps://tendingthetable.com/2018/11/14/10-simple-swaps-for-a-more-sustainable-kitchen/

N.A.  (2020).  Sustainable Lifestyles.  United Nations Environmental Programs.https://www.unenvironment.org/explore-topics/resource-efficiency/what-we-do/sustainable-lifestyles

N.A.  (2018).  Plastic Planet: How Tiny Plastic Particles are Polluting Our Soil.  United Nations  Environmental Programshttps://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/plastic-planet-how-tiny-plastic-particles-are-polluting-our-soil

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