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If you’ve long since made the switch to reusable water bottles and carry an insulated coffee thermos with you to work, you might be wondering what other gear can help make your everyday eating and drinking habits more environmentally friendly. Luckily, there are loads of kitchen goods that can help you cut down on single-use items and the amount of cooking-related trash you generate.
If you’re not sure where to begin, focus on cutting back on throwaway plastic and paper goods. Think plastic wrap, bags, straws, napkins, and paper towels. Picking one item to swap for a reusable counterpart each month can make a big difference in cutting back on waste. Even better? You'll end up keeping more money in your wallet in the long run—and your kitchen will benefit aesthetically, too.
Here, the best reusable kitchen gear to help turn your kitchen into a more sustainable space.
Reusable silicone storage bags are a must-have for packing lunches and stashing on-the-go snacks in your purse or kiddo’s diaper bag. They resemble the plastic food storage bags you grew up on, but they're made of food-grade silicone that’s free from harmful contaminants. They’re available in a range of colors and sizes, and, like plastic food storage bags, Stasher bags can be used for dry pantry storage or cold storage in the fridge or freezer. They're even safe to cook with!
What else? The bags have a pinch-lock closing system that ensures food stays fresh and contained, so you don’t have to worry about leaks or spills. Clean up is simple, too, since they’re dishwasher safe.
If you’ve ever struggled with a roll of plastic wrap and wondered if there’s a better way, the answer is yes. Not only is there a better way, it also happens to be plastic-free. Beeswax food wraps are crafted from cotton fabric and infused with beeswax that’s self-adhesive and becomes pliable enough to wrap around plates, bowls, and food remnants.
Abeego's food wrap comes in various sizes and can be used for everything from covering a plate of leftovers or half of an avocado to layering between baked goods or wrapping a sandwich. With proper cleaning (washing with cold water and air drying), the wraps are estimated to last well beyond a year and can be composted when they start to lose their grip.
You can find reusable straws made from glass and metal, but silicone straws are a bit less heavy duty, a lot more fun, and just as easy to clean. This one-and-done set from Food52's Five Two line includes 10 straws in pretty pastel hues, four squeegees for speedy cleaning (they're dishwasher-safe, too!), and four mini carrying cases so you don't have straws floating around in your purse. Grab a set for yourself and maybe one or two more for gifting.
There's no denying paper towels are convenient, but they aren't exactly eco-friendly. Enter: Swedish dishcloths, which are made from cellulose and can hold 20 times their weight in liquid, making a single cloth much more absorbent than a paper towel. Use them for mopping up water around the sink, doing dishes, cleaning countertops, and wiping fingerprints from your stainless steel appliances. When you’re done, just toss them in the laundry or dishwasher—no more dealing with funky odors or germy sponges.
Silpats are the original silicone baking mats that provide a naturally non-stick surface—no grease needed!—for whatever bakeware you’re working with. They come in a variety of sizes to fit cake pans, jelly roll pans, sheet pans, and even the crumb tray of your toaster oven. Keeping at least one silicone baking mat on hand can help home bakers reduce the amount of parchment paper needed for lining sheets and pans, but we recommend grabbing a few for your most used baking gear.
The Perfect Cookie Mat has a guide printed on it so you know how big to make your cookies and how far to space them apart for perfect cooking results. Cleaning is as simple as rinsing, air drying, and then tucking away either flat or rolled.
Take a set of reusable produce bags with you to the grocery store so you can avoid those single-use plastic baggies you're used to. When you get home, they can go straight into the fridge to store heads of lettuce, bell peppers, and broccoli crowns; or you can use them in the pantry to keep potatoes and onions contained. This set includes five mesh bags complete with colorful bags to tell them apart. And, since they’re machine-washable, they should look good for a long time.
If you’re addicted to flavored seltzer, welcome to the club. Those cases of fizzy water have topped grocery best-seller lists for the past few years, but it's a bummer thinking of all the empty cans that end up being tossed.
The solution? Keep on enjoying your favorite sparkling sips with zero waste with a soda maker. The SodaStream Fizzi comes with a CO2 cartridge and reusable BPA-free bottle to make batch after batch of seltzer. Bonus? You can flavor the seltzer however you want with fresh fruit juices and control the amount of bubbles to your liking. And if you’re worried that empty CO2 cartridges are going to mean more waste, SodaStream offers an exchange program so you can send back your empties to be recycled and reused.
Ditch single-use paper and foil muffin pan liners with a set of reusable silicone baking cups. They’re great for baking muffins and cupcakes in a standard baking tin, but also come in handy when prepping ingredients for a mise en place or serving snacks to kids (or yourself—we won’t judge). They're super easy to clean by hand or in the dishwasher, and they stack for convenient storage. Plus, we bet you’ll feel an instant lift when you spy the extra-cute rainbow color scheme.
One source of unnecessary plastic most home cooks overlook? Freezer ice packs. Most ice packs are encased in unsightly soft or hard plastic shells, so if you're trying to go totally plastic-free you'll need to find an alternative. This sleek stainless steel ice pack is filled with distilled water that freezes solid in just a couple hours, and can be used for 4-6 hours to keep your lunch fresh or your injuries iced.
Cooking spray has tons of uses, but adding empty cans to landfills doesn't need to be one of them. Make your own sprayable oils with a Misto Oil Sprayer. You can fill it with whatever oil you like and use it to spray a fine mist to grease pans, waffle irons, or even hot popcorn and green salads. This sprayer uses a good old fashioned air-pump instead of chemical filled propellants to create a mist, and it has a shiny stainless steel exterior that will fit right in on any modern kitchen counter.