Head into the kitchen and you’ll find it’s a household hotspot for plastic. From spatulas to sponges, to single-use food wrap — when you actively start looking, it’s all made of plastic. We totally recognize that despite best intentions, the budget doesn’t always allow for a total sustainable upgrade, but even just a few key swaps can make a difference. The kitchen is the perfect stop to get some eco-friendly wins under your belt.
We give you some plastic alternatives for your go-to items with recommendations from brands we love. Whether you swap one or all ten, know you’re making a conscious step towards a more sustainable way of living — for that, we applaud you.
1. Metal straws
As much as we enjoy slurping up a smoothie on the go, a staggering 500 billion plastic straws are discarded daily in the US alone. They can take up to 200 years to degrade and are often blow from landfills into the ocean where they harm wildlife. For the love of our oceans and the creatures that live there, we recommend grabbing a metal straw that you can reuse over and over again.
2. Reusable coffee filters
We are avid coffee drinkers here at tentree and since this daily habit has the potential to create a lot of waste, reusable coffee filters are a must. No matter what your brewing method of choice is the article below gives you a reuseable filter option. Hot tip — if you are stuck using a paper filter, buy ones that are non-bleached (aka the brown ones). They don’t contain any chemicals and are easier to compost.
Reusable Coffee Filters for Every Brewing Method
Not so fun fact, did you know that disposable sponges are mostly made of plastic? Microplastics to be exact. These sneaky little guys can be found hiding in a tone of products and are so small, they can pass through the water filtration system. When they do they end up in oceans and rivers where they cause harm to the aquatic life that consumes them.
There are lots of options out there but aim to replace your conventional sponge with one that’s made with natural, biodegradable materials. These products often give you more washes per use, meaning you’re replacing them less often.
DII Swedish Dishcloths
4. Beeswax wrap
Plastic cling wrap can feel like a hard one to replace for convenience sake, but let us make a case for beeswax wraps. One major selling point is that beeswax wraps are reusable. Plastic wrap usually hits the trash after one use and once it’s in the landfill or incinerator it releases a highly toxic chemical called dioxin. And you guessed it, plastic wrap also ends up in our oceans. Beeswax wraps on the other hand are made of much more environmentally friendly materials — cotton, beeswax (obviously), jojoba oil, and usually a tree resin. Beeswax wraps can easily be washed between uses and last up to a year.
If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can even try making your own beeswax wraps. We included a recipe for you below
5. Mason jars
Let’s be honest, what can’t a mason jar do? You can use them to pickle foods, store your leftovers, or even just have a nice drink of water from them. Mason jars are your go-to for storing foods that you might otherwise place in plastic containers.
Ball Mason jars are our go-to’s but we recommend skipping Amazon and looking for them at your local hardware store.
6. Wooden spoons and spatulas
Unlike their plastic and metal counterparts, wooden cooking utensils don’t have the same negative impact on the environment. Although better than plastic options, even metal spatulas typically have plastic handles to prevent heat from being conducted up the handle and burning your hand. Wooden utensils last longer, won’t scratch your cookware and are made from a renewable, biodegradable, non-toxic resource.
Bambu Kitchen Basics
7. Cloth towels
We know this one isn’t plastic in and of itself, but paper towel usually comes wrapped in single-use plastic. This creates a lot of waste for an item that constantly needs to be restocked. We recommend you skip the woes of plastic packaging and replace your next roll with a stack of cloth towels. Cloth towels can be used over and over again and save you money in the long run.
Full Circle TIDY Dish Cloth Set
8. Glass soap dispenser
Getting liquid soap without plastic can be challenging. Our recommendation is to find a local spot that sells liquid soap in bulk where you can refill your own containers. (The Soap Dispensary is one of our favourite spots here in Vancouver). Alternatively, you could try a dish block. Similar to a shampoo bar, it’s a block of concentrated dishwashing soap that comes with minimal packaging and skips the plastic container.
No Tox Life Dish Block
9. Cloth food sacks
While plastic sandwich bags are easy to use in the moment, they aren’t easy to re-use. Instead of feeling bad when you don’t end up washing and reusing your plastic sandwich bag, pick up some cloth food sacks. These are similar to sandwich bags and ideal for dry snacks. For wet food, we recommend using another container, like a mason jar.
lunchskins Reusable Sandwich Bag
10. Stainless steel bowls
Finally, because a mason jar can’t store everything, we recommend investing in stainless steel bowls. These paired with and a set of larger beeswax wraps can be handy. They cut out the need for big plastic containers and are perfect for leftovers.