Are you looking to make your kitchen greener? Good news: It’s easier than you think! You probably have most of the items you need—and if you don’t have a locally owned kitchen-goods store nearby, you can easily buy the utensils you don’t have online.
In case you’re not on board yet, transitioning to more sustainable kitchenware isn’t only better for the environment—it’s also better for your health.
That’s because many kitchen items are made of plastic, and the chemicals in plastic products can leach into your food when the plastic is hot. Some of these chemicals have been linked to hormone disruption, impaired immunity, developmental and reproductive issues, and certain cancers. This sounds scary, but you can make many low-lift changes to quickly transform your kitchen and your health!
25 Eco-Friendly Kitchen Products to Buy Now
Sure, non-stick pans are more convenient during clean-up, but they’re coated with chemicals. Opt for stainless steel, glass or cast-iron cookware instead. You’ll need to use some extra healthy fat while cooking—that’s the secret to preventing food from sticking to the pan—but your food will taste better that way!
One choice that many generations of cooks swear by is cast iron. That’s why some families fight over Grandma’s cast-iron pans! Lodge makes a good starter set ($45).
If you’ve got an electric stove, glass cookware can be a great choice. Some people swear by using their glass pots on gas stovetops, and glass baking dishes work in every oven. The best part? You can keep your food inside the dish to store in the fridge after it cools, eliminating the need for additional Tupperware. Here’s a four-piece Visions set ($100).
For a true investment, look for a great set of copper cookware. It’s expensive, to be sure, but these great pots and pans last for decades. Copper conducts heat very efficiently, providing a cooking surface that heats up quickly and evenly. Care for it properly and it will continue to look great, too! Try the Concord Premium eight-piece set ($155) for an introduction to the joys of copper. Or, if you’re ready to splurge, look into this seven-piece bonded cookware set from All-Clad with a stainless-steel finish ($1,100).
Many cooking utensils, including spatulas, spoons and ladles, are made from plastic. Swap them for ones made from bamboo, wood or stainless steel, like this three-piece wood set from OXO ($13).
Another option worth considering is silicone. While sometimes confused for plastic or rubber because of its appearance, this synthetic material is very popular in the kitchen. Thanks to its versatility—silicone easily handles both cold and hot temperatures. While some people remain suspicious of silicone for baking and cooking, it’s been on the market for years and many environmentalists find silicone much superior to plastic. OXO makes silicone spatulas, too ($21).
It’s estimated that we use 13 billion pounds of paper towels in the U.S. each year. Most of these towels aren’t recycled and are made from virgin materials. Switching to reusable dishcloths, sometimes called “Swedish dishcloths,” is a simple way to cut down on paper towel use. These versatile cloths are more absorbent than you’d think. They’re also biodegradable and provide a more elevated look in the kitchen. Win-win. $17 for a pack of 10 on Amazon, or opt for this German-made 8-pack for $15 on Grommet, which promises the product is chlorine-free and unbleached.
Eco-Friendly Food Containers and Storage Bags
Reusable containers are a must for a green kitchen. Use them to store everything, including advance-prepped food, leftovers, and ingredients you bought in bulk (nuts, seeds, whole grains, dried fruit). Glass jars are some of my favorite containers. (Remember that while you can buy jars, you can also repurpose jars from purchased food, like those from nut butter, pasta sauces, and pickles.) Prices vary based on size and manufacturer. This Anchor Hocking 3-quart jar with a glass lid costs $32 or head to Etsy for recycled glass jars galore.
Of course, glass gets heavy. An easier-to-handle alternative (especially for food going in and out of the fridge or microwave) is silicone. Reusable silicone bags have a bunch of advantages over plastic ones, including a flat-bottom design that enables them to stand on their own. This 4-bag set from Grommet ($23) is leak-proof, and you can use a dry-erase marker right on the bag, so you don’t have to play the food guessing game later on.
The German company Zwilling has innovated the world of reusable containers and bags by putting vacuum technology into your hands. Called Fresh & Save, the company’s introductory set includes two glass containers and four BPA-free bags of different sizes. They’re all freezable and microwaveable and compatible with a handy, slim vacuum pump (rechargeable via USB). The pump extracts the excess air, keeping your food fresher for up to five times longer than regular storage systems. It’s a true game changer! The 7-piece starter set costs $100.
And that vacuum pump works on more than food! Zwilling’s Fresh & Save wine sealer replaces any cork. Removing the air inside the bottle slows down the oxidation process, keeping your wine fresh for days. You can use it for bottles of juice or oil, too, keeping them from going rancid. $20 for a set of three.
Eco-Friendly Bowl Covers
(Image: Bee’s Wrap)
Do you find that the lids to your containers always go missing? Instead of reaching for plastic cling wrap, opt for reusable bowl covers or food wraps. Although the cloth versions aren’t airtight, they’re perfect for short-term storage or for transporting food from your house to someone else’s. Beeswax wraps—like this three-pack from Bee’s Wrap ($19)—are great for storing sandwiches, fresh bread, cheese and fruit.
If waxed cloth isn’t your jam, silicone covers provide a handy way to keep food fresh, too. They form an airtight seal, and when you’re ready to reheat, they can go right into the microwave. A set of three Dash silicone lids costs $25 at Target.
Reusable Shopping Bags
Of course, one easy way to cut down on waste (particularly of the dreaded single-use plastic variety) is to bring your own bags with you when you shop. This five-piece set of organic cotton bags ($13) is ideal for produce shopping.
For something a bit bigger—not to mention brighter and sturdier—BagPodz makes a set of five nylon bags ($25) that easily stuff into one compact pod, so you can stow them away in your purse. Lightweight but tough, each bag can carry up to 50 pounds of groceries.
Eco-Friendly Cutting Boards
(Image: Crate and Barrel)
Take a look at your plastic cutting board. Do you see the grooves where your knife has cut the board? Where do you think those bits of plastic have gone? Most likely, into your food! It’s time to swap out those plastic boards.
Acacia wood provides an attractive option. It’s durable and naturally water-resistant—both excellent qualities in a cutting board. Crate and Barrel’s acacia cutting boards ($40-60) are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. Meanwhile, The Greener Chef makes a board out of organic bamboo ($25), an über-sustainable material.
Eco-Friendly Coffee Makers
(Image: Coletti Coffee)
Next up: coffee! This can be a hot topic (no pun intended), thanks to the prevalence of Keurig- and Nespresso-style one-cup coffee makers. For obvious reasons, single-use plastic cups for every mug of coffee get a big thumbs-down from eco-conscious people.
With a goal of avoiding plastic, that makes a French press (typically made of glass and metal) or a stainless-steel percolator both solid alternatives. In the latter category, Coletti makes a stovetop model with a hardwood handle ($40).
If you prefer the French press, it’s easy to find a good-looking and inexpensive one, like this handsome glass-and-copper model from Bayka ($23). One downside: Sooner or later, many of the glass carafes end up with a crack in them. Splurge on an upgrade from Le Creuset, whose renowned stoneware won’t break and keeps the coffee hotter, longer. Bonus: The enamel coating comes in a wide range of colors, from Soleil (yellow) to Flint (gray). Price varies ($80-$120).
Finally, if you have a drip coffee maker you’re not willing to part with, consider a gold filter. (Or, more accurately, gold-plated stainless steel.) That one purchase will save countless paper filters over your caffeinated lifetime. Bonus: Because the gold won’t absorb the natural oils in the coffee grounds, you’ll get a more flavorful brew, too. Even Mr. Coffee makes them for their ubiquitous machines ($12 at Target).
Eco-Friendly Dish Brushes
(Image: Package Free)
Ditch your disposable sponge (that likely came packaged in single-use plastic) for a reusable dish brush that will clean just as well and last much longer. My favorite one is from Package Free for $10. The head is biodegradable, and you can replace it when it’s worn out. This saves you from having to get a whole new brush!
What about cleaning the crevasses of your water bottle? Here comes the silicone bottle brush ($8) to the rescue! Choose between five different bold colors for this long-lasting brush, which will help you keep all your new sustainable containers and jars clean.
Purchasing bulk items in glass jars makes for very heavy grocery bags! Instead, you can buy them in reusable cloth bags, then transfer the ingredients into jars when you get home. This is where these Norpro stainless-steel funnels ($11) come into play. They make for a much easier and less messy transfer.