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When it comes to making swaps to create a more sustainable home, it makes sense to start in the kitchen. Grocery stores, food prep, and cooking all offer lots of small ways to make more eco-conscious decisions, whether you’re trying to reduce the amount of trash you’re producing, minimize food waste across the supply chain, or use less energy in your cooking habits. Here are nine items that can help you achieve your green goals.
1. Misfits Market
You may have heard about how much food gets tossed before it even reaches grocery stores—Misfits Market is doing its part to reduce that waste. They sell produce (and other grocery items) that have been rejected from grocery stores for visual reasons: they’re a little misshapen or otherwise deemed not good enough for traditional retail.
Misfits Market allows you to build your own box, which they deliver to your home, all for significantly cheaper than what you’d pay at the grocery store. We loved this service when we tested because it pushed us to get creative in the kitchen.
2. Compost bucket
Composting is an excellent way to remove food waste from the trash cycle. Lots of cities have companies that will pick up your compost on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for a super-affordable price, or you can opt to set up your own compost system if you have the outdoor space.
Either way, you’ll need some sort of compost bucket to live in your kitchen. The best indoor compost bin we tested is the 1.3-Gallon Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin. We love it because it’s easy to clean, durable, and doesn’t omit the smells often associated with compost.
3. Plastic-free sponges
The average sponge is made up mostly of plastic, but there are tons of biodegradable alternativesincluding, yes, actual sea sponge. A good option is these McDils Natural Scrubber Sponges made of cotton fibers, coconut husk, wood pulp, and plant-derived cellulose. Plus, they can go straight into your compost bucket when they’re past their prime.
4. Reusable dish towels
If your only dish towels are the cute kind that you hesitate to use for anything but drying clean dishes, it’s time to rethink your strategy. A dozen or so affordable cloth dish towels can eliminate 90% of your paper towel usage without breaking the bank.
Here’s a tip for keeping them clean: store a bucket filled with a mixture of OxiClean and water under your sink or in a kitchen closet, then toss the towels in when they’re dirty. When you’re ready to wash, simply dump the whole bucket in your washer.
5. Biodegradable dishwasher detergent
Dishwashers, especially newer ones, are often more water-efficient than hand-washing (which is great news for those of us who loathe doing dishes). But lots of dishwashing detergents, especially the pods, contain microplastics that pollute waterways. Switching to a sustainable detergent, like Dropps, lets you feel even better about running your dishwasher as often as needed.
6. Dish soap concentrate
If you already buy your dish soap in bulk and put it into a glass or metal squirt bottle, you’re well on your way. Level up by cutting down on packaging even more: Etee packages its dish soap concentrate in sustainable beeswax pods. All you have to do is add water.
7. Pressure cookers
Pressure cookers—often simply called Instant Pots thanks to the popular brand—use pressurized steam to cook food quickly. This appliance is highly energy efficient, and often requires less water than traditional cooking methods for things like beans, pasta, and chicken stock. The best pressure cooker we tested is the Instant Pot Ultra, which we love because it’s intuitive to use, easy to clean, and cooks food perfectly.
8. Toaster oven
If you’re cooking for just one or two people, using a toaster can be energy efficient than a full-sized oven, since the small size means it heats up that much faster. The Breville Smart Oven Pro is the best toaster oven we’ve tested because it’s convection capable, has a sleek LCD screen, and cooks food super evenly.
9. Silicone food bags
Single use plastic bags are incredibly useful, which is why we recommend swapping out for these sturdy, dishwasher- and microwave-safe, non-toxic silicone bags by Stasher. If you’re a fan of sous vide, Anova, a brand we love, recently partnered with Stasher to release silicone sous vide bags for a more eco-friendly cooking experience.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.