5 ways to make your kitchen more sustainable right now

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Melanie Sutrathada is In The Know’s lifestyle contributor. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for more.

I saw a video years ago following a person who carried around all the trash they accumulated over a week in a giant garbage bag. The experiment was funny at first. But as the week went on, it was straight-up disgusting. It blew my mind how much we throw away. We are so wasteful without even realizing it.

Watching that video inspired me to do two things: One, stop binge-watching so many random YouTube videos at 3 a.m. (Midnight is much more socially acceptable for these escapades. Hey, I’m a work in progress!) and two, replace those random videos of pandas sneezing (They’re seriously adorable, and you should 1000% watch, by the way.)

But truthfully, the weird social experiment made me stop and research how to make my home more sustainable. My first stop? The kitchen.

You know how people create food journals to track what they eat? I did the same thing, but with paper and plastic used in my kitchen over the course of a day. The first thing that stood out was just how much single-use paper and plastic ended up in my trash can. It didn’t seem that wasteful to me at first. After all, what’s a tissue here or plastic utensils there? Maybe a dash of plastic containers with four mismatched lids sprinkled in for fun? But then I realized that I used 23 disposable paper towels in one day. Yes, you read that right — 23! Like, girl, what could you possibly do with that many paper towels in 24 hours?

So I went ahead and did some much-needed online sleuthing and shopping to find the best sustainable kitchen swaps. And you deserve to hear about them, too. Here are five easy sustainable kitchen swaps that help create less waste.

Shop: Zero Waste Unpaper Towels, 12-Pack, $34.99

I ordered these Unpaper Towels to replace disposable paper towels and haven’t looked back. While these washable and reusable Unpaper Towels look similar to regular paper towels, they are much better for the environment. They cling together naturally so you can roll them up just like regular paper towels. Just toss them in the wash when you’re done, and they’ll be good as new in no time.

Shop: Stasher Reusable Bags, 2-Pack, $24.99

Credit: Amazon

Reusable silicone storage bags like these babies from Stasher are a great way to eliminate plastic storage bags in your kitchen, especially if you pack lots of snack for little ones or just like to bring around a little baggy of Cheerios for yourself (This is a judgment-free zone, for the record). So much single-use plastic ends up in landfills and oceans, so switching to silicone is a simple way to help the planet. Silicone is safer, more flexible and more sustainable than plastic. Plus, a portion of every Stasher product sold goes straight to nonprofits dedicated to preserving and rehabilitating our oceans. It’s a win-win. 

Shop: Bee’s Wrap Reusable Food Wraps, Set Of 3, $18

Credit: Amazon

More than 40 percent of plastic is used just once — and plastic wrap is definitely included in this staggering statistic. Meet Bee’s Wrap, a natural alternative to plastic made with organic cotton, sustainably harvested beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin. It’s reusable, washable and 100 percent biodegradable, with only the warmth of your hands needed to create a seal. You can basically take these food wraps everywhere, whether you’re planning a picnic in the park or taking some cheese for a little morning snack on your commute (I can’t be the only one who does this, right?).

Shop: Refillable Single Cup Coffee Filters, 4-Pack, $9.95

Credit: Amazon

Your girl loves beverages. I legitimately have coffee, water and maybe a super sugary drink (I already told you, I’m a work in progress!) in front of me at any given point. And I have no shame in my game. But what I don’t love is how coffee pods are unnecessarily polluting our planet. I found BPA-free replacements for single-use K-cups to help reduce my carbon footprint and save me money in the long-run (or short-run, depending on how much hot bean water you drink). Just fill a filter up with your go-to grinds and make all your coffee dreams come true — guilt-free.

Shop: Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag, $12

Credit: Amazon

With plastic bags taking up to 1,000 years to decompose, plastic shopping bags need to become a thing of the past. No, I’m not being dramatic (this time). Over 100,000 sea turtles and marine animals die from consuming plastic bags from the ocean’s surface every single year. And plastic makes up nearly 90 percent of the total ocean debris.

Do your part to combat this by ordering a 100 percent ripstop nylon Baggu that holds up to a whopping 50 pounds. This affordable, waterproof, machine-washable bag folds small, perfect for tossing in your bag no matter where you’re going. Making this change alone will help decrease your footprint instantly! I’ve long been a fan of the brand, and even talked about this swap on a recent episode of “You Need This.” Yes, you need this. And yes, everyone around you does, too.

If you enjoyed this article on sustainable kitchen swaps, check out all of Rothy’s sustainable bag options.

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