9 Sustainable Kitchen Swaps for an Eco-Friendly House

An eco-friendly kitchen is the perfect beginning in the process of converting your house into a “green” home. Whether you are looking for some easy ways to create a more eco-friendly house or you are trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle, here are some kitchen tips to help you begin!

Whatever your eco-friendly goals are, what better way than to start converting a room in your house that you use every day: the kitchen!

Here are some simple swaps and eco-friendly kitchen tips you can make in your house for a more eco-friendly home.

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#1. Paper Towels –> “Unpaper” Towels

You can make your own “unpaper” towels by cutting flour sack cloth into smaller napkin sizes. Flour sack cloth is super absorbent and lint-free, so the perfect material for an eco-friendly alternative to paper towels.

I bought a pack of flour sack cloths at Walmart, cut them into even rectangular pieces to match my napkin-size preference, and then sewed the edges with a sewing machine so they wouldn’t fray. After I use one, I toss it in a mesh laundry bag hanging in my pantry (or you can hang it on the inside of a cabinet door). When the bag gets full I toss them in the washing machine with some added bleach.

But also…lucky for you, you can also purchase “unpaper” towels online. 😉 You can simply buy these reusable organic cotton unpaper towels (pictured below) for a sustainable alternative to paper products to use at meal times. Or these white cloth dinner napkins, both with high reviews! And both are machine-washable.

Keep a stack of these napkins in an easily accessible area of your kitchen. Above is a picture of my handmade unpaper towels which sit in a basket on the kitchen counter. I have about 25-30 cloth napkins which sustains two people about 1-2 weeks.

#2. Plastic Baggies –> Reusable Bags

Save food containers like glass jars (such as salsa and pizza sauce jars) or plastic containers (like lunch meat) and reuse it to save bulk foods. Store foods like almonds, coffee grounds, and homemade granola in these repurposed containers.

For more ideas read my other post: 8 Ways to Reuse Containers in Your Kitchen

Purchase reusable sandwich baggies to avoid using disposable plastic baggies only one time before throwing them away (this is a starter pack with 6 silicone sandwich bags and 6 snack baggies). These other silicone baggies are attractive, come in many colors and sizes, and have raving reviews on Amazon (they are currently on my need-to-buy list!).

#3. Plastic Dish Brush –> Compostable Brush/Sponge

Dish Brush:

Most dish brushes are just large plastic handles with plastic brushes on the end. Switch to a compostable sponge or dish scrubber. Look for those made of natural materials like bamboo, coconut fibers, luffa, or hemp.

This Plant Based Cleaning Brush Set is the exact one I use (part of the set is pictured above). It comes with a bottle brush, vegetable brush, pot brush, and multi-purpose brush (which comes with 2 replacement heads!).

I love its natural look and that it is highly functional and effective. And it is made of eco-friendly materials: bamboo and coconut fibers. Here is a very similar Bamboo Dish Brush Set.

Some dish scrubbers have replaceable heads so you can keep the handle rather than disposing of the entire brush.

Natural Kitchen Sponge:

Most sponges are made with polyester or nylon, which are not biodegradable.

My most recent eco-friendly kitchen purchase was a natural loofah sponge. It is efficient at cleaning dishes and looks great in my kitchen! This is a sustainable kitchen swap because loofah dish scrubbers are completely natural and biodegradable.

eco friendly luffa loofah kitchen sponge

#4. Plastic Soap Containers –> Block Soap

There is a way to stop using plastic dish soap bottles (like Dawn dishwashing liquid soap) at your kitchen sink for washing dishes. And it’s even a way to stop buying plastic bottles to refill your dish soap dispenser.

It’s block soap! Use plastic-free dish washing block soap as your green alternative to liquid dish soap in plastic bottles.

Rather than using plastic dish soap bottles at your sink or to refill your dish soap dispenser, use plastic-free dish washing block soap. It comes in paper packaging and works just as well as liquid dish soap when coupled with an eco-friendly compostable dish scrub brush (like those made out of bamboo).

Scrub brush:

A natural scrub brush is probably the easiest swap to make because the only thing that changes between a plastic scrub brush and this bamboo set is obviously the material: bamboo.

There is nothing new to get used to or a different method to learn for washing dishes. These are just compostable, biodegradable (and may I add, much prettier) scrub brush alternatives!

#5. Trashing Food Scraps –> Countertop Compost Bin

Try to stop tossing your food scraps in the trash. They actually produce powerful greenhouse gases once in the landfill and just add to the huge amount of trash that our society creates.

Consider adding food scraps to your green compost cart instead. If you live in a large city, you most likely have an organics bin (along with a trash cart and recycling cart) where you can throw away grass clippings and tree trimmings. It may also be the case that you can add your food scraps there too!

Make sure to double check your city’s website to see if they allow food scraps in the organics bin.

A simple countertop compost bin is all you need to collect food scraps (fruit/vegetable peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc.) throughout your day. Every day or two, empty your bin into the organics cart to then be collected by city waste management each week. This organic waste is then turned into compost which is used to improve soils and your environment. 

Composting food scraps not only eliminates the bad odors from your indoor trash can, but also reduces waste that is sent to the landfills. The compost that your organics turn into will return to the environment, which restores its soils (and therefore everything else that feeds on those soils)! Win-win.

Here is the exact countertop compost bin that I have (pictured above)! It is super highly rated and works beautifully! It eliminates odors, is very easy to clean, and looks sleek on the kitchen counter. I love it! You can even buy compostable bags that are biodegradable so that clean up is even easier and your outdoor compost bin will not smell of the food scraps either.

#6. Plastic Grocery Bags   -> Reusable Grocery Bags

Your local grocery store probably uses plastic bags to bag all of your items together. Instead, bring your own reusable bags to reduce the number of disposable bags you need to throw away.

Even if you are using plastic reusable bags, the fact that you are reusing it is a bonus and means that you are saving so many disposable one-use plastic bags from continuously going to the landfill. Just take them in to the store each time you shop!

I have a large collection of reusable bags (above) that I take with me into the store every week (tip: just keep them in the trunk so you don’t forget to bring them). It can actually be fun to collect reusable bags! I’ve received some from wedding venue freebies, my graduate school’s department, or from academic conferences I’ve been to. It’s just fun to sport the things you care about…or it can be embarrassing, be careful. ;p

Both options below are large, foldable, heavy duty sets. This eco-friendly premium grocery bag set has crazy high reviews and this classy black produce bag set is machine-washable…need I say more?! Ok, I will. Another nice thing about these heavy duty reusable grocery bags is that they don’t roll around or fall over in your trunk once they are full of groceries (need!).

#7. Plastic Straws -> Stainless Steel or Bamboo Straws

If you like to sip your drinks through straws (like me) then consider swapping out single-use plastic straws for reusable ones. I’ve used stainless steel straws for years, but I just bought my first set of bamboo straws and they are SO FUN.

Simply choosing a sustainable alternative to plastic is the main goal here. If you don’t even use straws, then you don’t even need another material thing like these straws (see what I’m getting at?). If you are having a party, consider swapping plastic straws out with paper straws since they are compostable and biodegradable, but plastic is not.

#8. Parchment Paper –> Silicone Baking Mat

Many cooking and baking recipes require parchment paper-lined baking sheets, am I right? To avoid using parchment paper just that one time before tossing it in the trash, swap parchment paper with silicone non-stick baking mats. They come very highly rated and with thousands of reviews in a pack of two or a pack of 3 with multiple sizes.

With these, you can take part in eco-friendly cooking and cut down on your carbon footprint at the same time. These sustainable baking mats help you skip the aluminum foil and parchment paper when you bake. And these even allow you to eat healthier by cutting out the use of oil for greasing when you cook! 

#9. Cling Wrap and Aluminum Foil -> Beeswax Wrap

Purchase beeswax wrap to replace cling wrap and plastic baggies. You can use it to wrap sandwiches, store cheese blocks, or to cover bowls of food (see mine below).

This is the exact set I have and I love everything about it! (I actually have two sets.) It’s made from sustainably harvested beeswax and other organic materials. Not to mention the honeycomb print is adorable and it of course keeps me from throwing away single-use plastic all the time!

So, do you plan on making any eco-friendly kitchen swaps?!

Which ones have you already implemented?

Do you have any more eco-friendly kitchen tips?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Sara

    I switched to unpaper towels and love them! This post has a ton more great ideas I’m excited to transition too. One struggle right now is plastic grocery bags due to covid. We do curbside grocery pickup so I don’t think it’s possible to do reusable ones.

    1. Jaime

      Thank you, Sara! I agree about loving the unpaper towels. It feels a lot less wasteful. It’s true about curbside not accommodating reusable grocery bags right now… When that happens to me, I make sure to reuse the plastic grocery bags for something like trash can liners or backyard dog waste clean up. Or you can ball up all the plastic grocery bags and recycle them!

  2. Jan

    Great ideas here.! As a professional Kitchen Designer I can see all of these things working in the contemporary kitchen.

    1. Jaime

      That’s great to hear, Jan! Thank you. They have definitely proven effective in my kitchen 😉

  3. Kellie

    Great post! I’ve recently switched to beeswax wraps and I’m completely converted. Can’t wait to try some of these other ideas!

    1. Jaime

      Thanks Kellie! Yesss, aren’t beeswax wraps so cute and practical?!

  4. Liz

    These are all such great ideas! I love that all of these swaps are super do-able. I think I’m going to buy one of those countertop compost bins! Thanks for the recommendation!

    1. Jaime

      Thank you Liz! Do-able is definitely my goal too! Yay, countertop compost bins really are amazing. I love that you can even throw away paper towels in them when you have to use paper towels.

  5. Kimberly

    This inspired me to start looking at ways to reduce waste in my kitchen even more. I love the bees wrap and the unpaper towels.

    1. Jaime

      Thanks Kimberly! I’m so glad it was inspiring, that’s my goal! 😉

  6. Karine Gareau

    Such original ideas and plus you’re not compromising style!

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