Going plastic-free or zero waste can feel a bit overwhelming when you look around your home and mentally create an ever-growing list of what inevitably ends up in the landfill. Luckily, the kitchen is one of the easiest places to make a change — and that change will make your wallet happy in the long run while helping the planet thrive (or at least heal a little).
Aside from plastic being a chemically-laden product we don’t want leaking its toxins into our soils and oceans, it also can leak its toxins into our bodies when we store food inside of it. The best way to avoid harming the planet and ourselves is to make simple swaps to sustainable, earth-friendly and safe products.
Here are 5 plastic-free simple swaps for your kitchen essentials.
1. Beeswax Food Wrap
First of all, have you ever tried to rip off a sheet of disposable plastic wrap just to have it crinkle up and get all ragged and unusable? It’s just the worst. Honestly, nothing good comes from plastic wrap, period. It often contains high levels of BPA— a synthetic chemical that disrupts proper cell function, and it contributes to the trillions of microplastic pieces that land in our waterways and oceans.
A pack of beeswax food wrap may have a higher price tag than, say, a (non-recyclable!) box of saran wrap, but it can be used over and over and over again. It’s perfectly safe to use, works just as well as other food wraps, and will save you money since you won’t be buying new boxes of plastic junk every other week. Bonus: there are some seriously aesthetically-pleasing wraps out there that’ll make your fridge and kitchen counters look like something out of an interior design magazine.
2. Mason Jars
Your grandmother likely used mason jars in her kitchen. Why? They’re highly functional and extremely affordable. Mason jars have been used in the home for decades and decades. Use them for your leftovers, or bring them to the market so you can purchase food in bulk. And much like our cute little beeswax food wraps, they can make your kitchen look organized and smart.
3. Reusable Food Storage Bags
Single-use plastic baggies are so wasteful, it’s a wonder why we didn’t ditch them entirely years ago. You can use cloth bags to hold your produce at the grocery store and silicone bags for items such as sandwiches, leftovers, snacks, etc. Anything that would normally go inside a resealable plastic bag can go into a resealable, reusable silicone food bag. Considering how often we need food bags in the home, this easy swap will save you money quickly while keeping your body and the planet healthy.
4. Glass Spray Bottles and Soap Dispensers
If you haven’t caught the DIY bug and ditched all the toxic chemicals in common cleaning products, now’s the time to do it. Or, if DIY isn’t your thing, you can always try to locate a zero-waste refill store or order plastic-free non-toxic cleaners online.
There are now online companies that let you purchase concentrated, non-toxic cleaning tablets or liquids you simply add water to, mix, and have a zero-waste, environmentally-friendly cleaning solutions. Keep those toxins away from your family and out of our waterways and soils.
5. Bamboo Cutlery and Plates
Look, I get it — throwing a huge party and having tons of dishes to wash is time-consuming and, frankly, annoying. But what’s convenient for you is deadly for the planet. However, if you have to use single-use cutlery and plates, bamboo is the way to go. Many “compostable” alternatives on the market aren’t really compostable. While they technically can be, they require a very specific process since they can only be broken down under more extreme conditions than traditional composting.
Bamboo is a primary organic material that can truly be composted, so it’s the best option if you absolutely have to supply a party, event, etc. with single-use items. You can also buy plates and bowls made out of leaves and other organic materials if you’re able to find it, just make sure to read the materials list thoroughly.