When I started trying to transition to a more sustainable lifestyle I began by becoming more self-aware when I was throwing something into my kitchen trash can. I’d ask myself these questions:
- what is this item?
- has this item served me or has it served a real purpose?
- is there a better option for when I need this again?
I quickly found that I throwing out drinking straws (I can’t live without them), plastic produce bags from the grocery store, and paper towels… A lot of paper towels. Then, armed with this information and my beloved Amazon Prime membership, I started shopping for replacements. Then, as I was throwing out less of these original items, I’d notice I was throwing away other random things. Like plastic cling wrap that I used to cover my dog’s half-empty dog food cans when they were stored in the fridge, and the cycle continued. This cycle of attempted self-awareness continues even today.
Below are some of my favorite items that I’ve switched to, and the Amazon link to help you if you’d like to take a look at making a similar change. (the links below are affiliate links and I could earn a small portion if you purchase using them. I doubt that this will occur, but in the spirit of full-disclosure, now you know!)
It seems like every store has their own line of earth-conscious grocery bags, but most of them just plain suck. Why do they all have handles that are too long to carry by hand, but to short to sling over your shoulder? That’s why I’ve fallen in love with canvas totes from Trader Joe’s. The straps are long enough to easily get on and off your shoulder, the straps are wide to distribute the weight of your haul, and these things are built for battle. Seriously. I took one of these bags to Petsmart and used it to carry an entire case of canned dog food. I don’t see the other stores’ weird, boxy, plastic-coated reusable bags doing that.
We seem to be very well-versed in carrying reusable shopping bags, but when I noticed I was using mine to carry an absurd amount of produce in plastic bags, I saw issue with this. The ones I bought are nylon, so if I could do it again I’d go for cotton, but these are still really easy to use, wash (if needed) and throw back in your reusable grocery bag for the next trip. And I have noticed that most produce lasts longer than when you keep it in the store’s plastic bags.
I’ve struggled with the Save the Sea Turtles movement that’s trying to outlaw straws in restaurants. I like sea life, but I also like an easy-to-drink beverage. Plus, straws make me drink more water without realizing it. So at home I’ve switched to metal drinking straws. These are perfect for water tumblers and smoothie cups, and the scrub brush they come with is a game-changer. Word-to-the-wise, rinse your straw as soon as you’re done with something. You and your scrub brush will thank me later.
The ease and cleanliness of paper towels was something that I begrudgingly gave up, but these cloth paper-like towels are probably my favorite new item in my kitchen. When they’re wet they actually feel like a sturdier paper towel, and they bleach easily in the wash. Because they’re so much sturdier I use much less of them on a daily basis, but I still feel good cleaning up things like raw meat juice and then immediately throwing them in the wash. win-win.
What kitchen items would you like to see added to this list? How do you make your cooking routine earth-friendly?