Creating an eco-friendly kitchen is becoming a priority for more and more people. And while I’m thrilled that more people are turning to green living, beginners often think they need to buy new products to make their homes eco-friendly.
Sure, there are items you can buy that will be great eco swaps (like beeswax wraps or reusable water bottle), but you likely have a lot of sustainable kitchen items already and just need to know how to use them most sustainably.
Just so you know, “the most environmentally friendly product is the one you didn’t buy.” –Joshua Becker, founder of Becoming Minimalist.
How do you make an eco friendly kitchen?
Easy. Using what you have is always better than buying something new. Conserving your resources and reusing items is the ultimate to make your kitchen and home sustainable and eco-friendly.
Apply this principle to everything in your home and you’ll find tons of small ways you can make your kitchen eco-friendly without buying new things.
Here are a few free ways you can create an eco-friendly kitchen.
GLASS JARS FOR EVERYTHING
Products that are sold in glass jars are gifts that keep on giving.
Here are a few ways you can use glass jars right away:
- Storing dry pantry goods
- Storing day-old coffee for iced coffee
- Freezing jams and pesto, soups, broth
- Flower vases
- Drinking glasses
- Saving water for plants
We have a backyard so we can compost easily. I know this isn’t the case for a lot of people.
If you live in an apartment I suggest finding a farm or fellow neighbor who composts and wants to accept your food scraps for their pile. All you need to do is freeze your food scraps and hand them off to your source when the bag is full.
Our compost container fills up every 2 or 3 days so I’m thrilled the scraps aren’t going to the landfill. When your regular trash isn’t full of food scraps it doesn’t smell as bad. An added bonus!
MEAL PLANNING TO AVOID FOOD WASTE
Having a simple meal plan can help you avoid food waste altogether. Especially when you eat leftovers regularly.
Plan meals that use ingredients that are close to going bad or have been sitting around your pantry for a while.
Check out these posts to meal plan and lower your food waste:
TURN FOOD WASTE INTO INGREDIENTS
Before you put food scraps in the compost try to figure out a way to use them.
Vegetable scraps can be turned into vegetable stock or added to make chicken broth.
Various vegetable and fruit scraps can also be added to smoothies, sauces, salads, and soups.
Use dairy that is about to expire in a casserole or quiche.
Take regular stock of what’s in your fridge and identify foods you can freeze before they spoil.
I like to freeze cheese if I don’t think we’ll get to it in time. Sure, the texture changes but that’s something I am willing to live with to avoid throwing it away completely.
You can also save money by buying foods when they’re on sale or in season and freezing them when you get home.
STORE FOOD THE RIGHT WAY
Whenever I’m unsure of how to store a food item I look it up. For example, did you know fresh basil prefers to be stored at room temperature? Storing basil in the fridge will cause it to turn black. So I store fresh basil with the stems in glass jars with water on the counter and use it right away.
Always look up how to store something so you can prevent wasting food by accident.
Check to make sure your refrigerator and freezer are at the proper temperatures.
GROW YOUR FOOD
Keeping a garden has an infinite number of benefits with just 1 being fresh produce. Here’s where you can start your compost pile AND use the finished compost!
Check out local farmer’s markets in the spring to pick up a few vegetable starts (baby plants) to grow in your space.
There’s no better way to have a sustainable kitchen than by growing your own food. Talk about life goals!
MAKE YOUR OWN
I was frustrated with how many peanut butter jars we were accumulating so I decided to make my own peanut butter.
Now I buy roasted peanuts in bulk, pour them into my food processor, turn it on, tidy the kitchen for about 5 minutes while the food processor works its magic, and then pour the delicious peanut butter into a glass jar.
You can even get fancy by adding ingredients like honey or cinnamon for upgraded peanut butter that would cost a lot more in the store.
Other products I make myself are pesto, dehydrated fruits, jam, chicken broth, tomato sauce, the list goes on.
ONLY RUN A FULL DISHWASHER
This tip might be hard for people who are accustomed to running their dishwasher every night.
But running the dishwasher only when it’s full (or when you run out of dishes) is the most eco-friendly way.
Even running the dishwasher every other day is an improvement and saves a lot of water.
Cut yourself off from using liquid hand soap! Bar soap lasts longer, produces less packaging, and is way more affordable.
Use bar soap in the shower too while you’re at it.
NO MORE NON-STICK PANS
I know people love non-stick pan sets but I’m going to let you know why I think they’re a bad idea.
Non-stick pans are not an item you can invest in. Over time the coating wears away and they become unsafe to use. So in your lifetime, you’ll need to replace a non-stick set over and over again.
Whereas a stainless steel set will hardly ever NEED to be replaced.
My husband and I bought a basic stainless steel set 9 years ago and just replaced it because I wanted larger pans. We gave the 9-year-old set to my brother who uses them daily.
As long as you use enough oil or butter your pans will work perfectly and you won’t need non-stick.
My suggestion is to buy 1 non-stick pan to use for eggs and pancakes and that’s it. It’s a lot easier to replace 1 non-stick pan every few years than an entire set every other year.
NO MORE PAPER TOWELS
Use reusable kitchen towels and napkins. I use kitchen towels for drying my hands, drying dishes, cleaning the countertops, and mopping the floor.
Every few days I toss the kitchen towels in the laundry and use them all over again.
My kitchen towels aren’t fancy – a lot of them are pre-fold cotton cloth diapers we bought for their absorbency which make them great for cleaning.
Remember, the most eco-friendly items are the ones you already own. Don’t fall into the trap of running out to buy brand new items to become eco-friendly when you already have most of the tools.
Share your eco-friendly kitchen tips below in the comments! I’m excited to learn from you!