When I first decided to take my family 100% single-use plastic free, the kitchen was an obvious starting place. We spend nearly all of our time together as a family in the kitchen. Everyone, no matter our age or gender, has duties and responsibilities in this room. It makes a perfect backdrop for our attempts at a more sustainable life.
Below is a collection of products we have incorporated into our kitchen while on our sustainable journey. If you have products you use and like better than those I’ve listed below, please do share! I’m all for making life easier and more sustainable for everyone.
Behold, the unsung hero of the kitchen….baking soda. Once I discovered all the wonderful uses of this powerful cleaner my life changed. I’m not being dramatic, either. My partner loves to cook (and I love to eat his creations), and for some reason when he cooks he uses every frickin pan, pot, dish and utensil in our kitchen. Cleaning up the remnants of a pot roast that have baked hard onto a dish is not fun and often made me regret the entire meal. I’d rather eat peanut butter and jelly than spend an hour scrubbing baked on food. And then I found baking soda. Sprinkle some on ANY tough grim and your scrubbing time will be dramatically reduced without needing a drop of dish soap. Seriously. Just don’t use it on any plastic or non-stick – it’s abrasive and will ruin softer materials. I found the handy little shaker pictured above at World Market, but I’m sure Amazon sells similar, plastic-free items.
Reusable Paper Towels
Paper towels are the heavy lifter in our kitchen. After noticing how frequently I was ordering more, I decided to try something different. Enter REUSABLE PAPER TOWELS! I did a ton of research and landed on my favorites: “UNpaper” towels sold by Marley’s Monsters. They come in a variety of prints, colors, and plain old white to suite anyone’s kitchen décor. I love them for their super-soft feel and absorbent work ethic. Perfect for wiping down counters, cleaning up spills, and tackling sticky peanut butter hands and faces. While they looks super cute all rolled up on an official paper towel roll, that is not how we use them in our kitchen. They get washed, folded and stacked in a drawer next to the sink. Some people don’t even bother to fold them but my OCD tendencies won’t let me do that, yet.
Sustainable Paper Towels
While I much prefer to use reusable paper towels (see here), getting the rest of the family on board is still a work in progress. In the meantime, we love the super strong 2-ply paper towels from a blend of bamboo and sugarcane Who Gives A Crap makes . While they are not reusable (my preference), they are still more sustainable than the paper towels you buy at the grocery store. Use this link for $10 off your first Who Gives a Crap order. I highly recommend learning more about Who Gives A Crap – the work they do to bring clean water and toilets to under-developed areas is truly admirable.
My family plows through hand wash, especially since the pandemic hit. Teaching two little kids how to properly wash their hands means using more than an average amount of soap each time. My youngest happens to be obsessed with water and bubbles, like most 2-year-olds, so washing her hands is a favorite pastime. Tired of buying endless one-time use hand pumps, I switched to refillable dispensers some time ago. However, buying soap for dispensers means buying another single-use plastic item – so what was I really accomplishing? Enter Plaine Products. Their products are all natural, vegan, cruelty-free, toxin-free and come in a returnable, refillable aluminum bottle. Pretty cool, huh!? Once we finish a bottle we place it back in the box, attach the pre-paid return label, and send it right back to Plaine Products where they wash, refill, and ship it out again. If you haven’t heard of Plaine Products before, then prepare yourself. I love them and have their products all over my house, which means they are featured all over my blog. The hand wash is a new favorite of mine. We get the rosemary mint vanilla scent for everything because, well, it smells like heaven, obviously. Use this link to get 20% off your first Plain Products order.
Did you know that regular dishwasher detergent is actually terrible for the Earth? Especially the little convenient pods that come in wrapped in plastic. We switched to Dropps detergent pods over a year ago for our dishwasher and laundry and haven’t looked back since! With compostable packaging, free carbon-neutral shipping, and a subscription program that saves us 30% it was a no-brainer. These little dish pods do a better job at cleaning our dishes than the expensive, bad-for-the-earth pods we previously used from the grocery store. Use this link to get $15 off your first Dropps order.
We have dinner together as a family most nights and it’s my son’s responsibility to set the table. Placing napkins out is a big part of his job. I got tired of using paper towels or paper napkins only for one of two things to happen: 1) the meal wasn’t messy so the napkins went unused and thrown away, or 2) the meal was so messy a single napkin wouldn’t hold up. The 3rd option of the napkin being used the appropriate amount is a unicorn in our home. The reusable napkins from Marley’s Monsters are the PERFECT solution! They are just the right size, can handle tough messes, and….drum roll please….do NOT need to be ironed. Hallelujah!
Sponges: the ever-present workhorse of the kitchen sink. Also a breading ground for germs and bacteria. Before making the switch to these eco-friendly and washable sponges from Marley’s Monsters, I was replacing our plastic-based sponges every 2-4 weeks. They would get so gross and dirty the thought of all the little creatures living inside made my stomach squirm. Now, whenever our sponge looks a little icky I simply toss it in the washer and ta-da! Good as new!
Metal Spoon Straws
I love spoon straws and have been using them for years! They have become quite popular in recent years as people make the switch from plastic. Perfect for any drink that could benefit from stirring or scooping. My kids love them too. Ours are basic looking, like the picture above. Amazon sells a million different kinds and I found these fancy ones I might get for my partner and his fun mixed cocktails. They make for easy stocking stuffers.
Ahh…the MVP of 2020. Remember back in March when this stuff was selling for a million dollars a bottle and you couldn’t find it anywhere? Me too. Plaine Products strikes again with an amazing product we have on subscription. Thanks to COVID, we’ve made it a habit to keep this stuff all over the house now. Kitchen? CHECK. Bathroom? CHECK. Mudroom? Yep, there too. It smell good, doesn’t leave a sticky residue and comes with all the signature Plaine Product perks: all natural, vegan, cruelty-free, toxin-free and comes in a returnable, refillable aluminum bottle. Win-Win-Win! Use this link to get 20% off your first Plain Products order.
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