Tired of making so much waste in the kitchen—and ready to stop feeling guilty about it? Swap out these common disposable products for something you can keep on using…
Plastic wrap: As much as we all would love to be plastic-free, there’s no one catchall replacement for plastic wrap. You’ll need to invest in a few different options for different applications. Bees Wrap ($18), made of cotton coated with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin, works well for bread and baked goods, but you can’t use it for meat or fish and it can leave waxy (though harmless) residue on dishes and hands.
Silicone bowl covers make it easy to seal bowls or pots of all sizes. The Charles Viancin Lilypad Silicone Lids ($34 for a set of four) create an airtight seal when you push down on the center of the bloom, and because they’re made of silicone, you can use them in the microwave, oven and refrigerator and on the stovetop. Another advantage to these flat lids is that they stay put during microwaving, preventing splatters, while stretchable silicone lids inflate from the expanding, warming air and pop off, making a mess.
Waxed paper: Instead of using waxed paper to cover food that you warm in the microwave, use the silicone Marna Piggy Steamer ($16.50), which lets excess steam out of the adorable snout. It also can be used to open jars.
Parchment paper: Parchment paper can be added to your compost pile, so it is a better environmental choice than plastic wrap or waxed paper. But for something more durable for lining a cake or cookie pan, a silicone mat reinforced with fiberglass mesh works wonders. The Silpat Premium Half-Sized Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat ($25) cleans up easily in the dishwasher, so it won’t get sticky or stained or retain odors.
Plastic freezer bags: Instead of using zip-top plastic bags for freezer storage, reusable containers are an easy option. Rubbermaid’s Brilliance line is BPA-free, goes from freezer to microwave to dishwasher, and doesn’t leak—and it comes in different size options to store whatever you need.
Paper towels: Cotton dish towels can get the job done just as well as—or better than—their paper counterparts. The classic Williams-Sonoma Striped Towels ($19.95 or $24.95 for eight, depending on color) are very absorbent, just the right weight for use in the kitchen, and they get softer over time without losing strength.
Food waste: More than 200 pounds of food is sent to landfills per person, per year. Composting can help cut back on that by taking everything from coffee grounds to orange peels and converting it to rich soil (perfect for your kitchen garden). The Exaco Trading Company ECO-2000 2.4 Gallon Kitchen Compost Waste Collector ($16.50) features a carbon filter that helps control odor, works with or without bio bags and can hold 2.4 gallons of kitchen scraps before you have to take it out to your composter.