The United States is home to approximately 5% of the world’s population, yet we generate 40% of the world’s waste! To put it in perspective, the average citizen throws out 4 pounds of trash per day (that includes food waste). That’s 1,460 pounds of trash per year! It’s time we find ways to cut back, and the first place to begin is in the kitchen. After all, the kitchen is where we produce most of our waste. Here are 10 amazing products to help make your kitchen more eco-friendly:
#1 – BAMBOOEE PAPER TOWELS
If every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of paper towels per year with an environmentally-friendly alternative, we could save 544,000 trees. I’ve got a better idea: replace 286 paper towel rolls with one roll of Bambooee®.
One roll of Bambooee® contains 20 reusable, machine-washable rayon sheets made from organic bamboo. And each sheet can be washed up to 100 times (they can also be bleached). You can through them in the washing machine with your clothing in warm or cold water. They become even more absorbent after a few times in the wash. Bambooee® provides you about 5 years of use from one roll.
The product is made in China, but that’s because the raw material comes from locally-owned farms that alleviate poverty in rural areas. The bamboo is grown organically and sustainably; however, Bambooee® has begun an initiative to start growing bamboo in the United States. The product is, unfortunately, not biodegradable, but if you only throw away 20 sheets every 5 years, that’s a huge improvement. However, the company is currently working on a compostable alternative that should be available soon.
#2 – THREE BLUEBIRDS DISHCLOTH
The Three Bluebirds Dishcloth is a wonderful alternative to a sponge. Whether you use a natural or synthetic sponge, they can quickly breed bacteria. And many synthetic sponges are made using materials that aren’t environmentally-friendly or biodegradable.
Three Bluebirds makes a sponge-like dishcloth from 70% cellulose from FSC certified forests and 30% cotton. The designs on the cloth are screen printed using a water-based ink. Like a sponge, the Three Bluebirds Dishcloth can absorb 20x its weight, but it air dries quickly, preventing bacteria growth.
The dish cloth can be washed over 200 times in the washing machine or top rack of the dishwasher. And they are 100% biodegradable, so when you are finished with them, you don’t need to feel guilty throwing them out.
One dishcloth will run you $6.95, and they come in many designs.
#3 – UNNI COMPOSTABLE TRASH BAGS
A study done by the University of Georgia found that 18 billion pounds of plastic trash winds up in our oceans each year—enough to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic. Replacing traditional plastic garbage bags with Unni Compostable Bags is a great way to reduce plastic pollution.
Unni bags are made from 100% compostable material, and they are compliant with ASTM #6400 standards. Unni products receive certification from the U.S. Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), ensuring they are 100% compostable. The bags can be composted in municipal, industrial facility, and home backyard composting. Unni bags come in many sizes and quantities (they also offer 100% compostable cutlery and dog waste bags).
Prices vary depending on product selection, but a box of 100 13-Gallon tall kitchen trash bags run $27.95.
#4 – LIVING COMPOSTER BY UNCOMMON GOODS
Most people probably assume throwing out food waste doesn’t have a negative environmental impact—after all, food waste is biodegradable. But globally, 30% of food is wasted. This contributes 8% to the total greenhouse gas emissions (food releases methane when it breaks down in a landfill). If food waste were a country, it would come in 3rd (after the U.S. and China) for its impact on global warming.
Composting your food waste can greatly reduce your negative environmental impact, and you can use the compost for your household plants and landscaping, saving you money on fertilizer and potting soil. The Living Composter by Uncommon Goods is a stylish countertop composter made from cork and recycled plastic (another bonus). The composter is odorless and can process over two pounds of food per week.
#5 – BAMBOOZLE KITCHENWARE
Traditional kitchenware is not biodegradable and, depending on the materials it’s made from, can be bad for the environment. Bamboozle makes kitchenware out of bamboo fibers that are ground down and molded into stylish products. The kitchenware is dishwasher-safe. And if you were to ever throw it out, the kitchenware is completely biodegradable.
There are huge environmental benefits to using bamboo. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth (24-36” every 24 hours), making it incredibly sustainable; it can be grown without chemical pesticides; and its natural moisture resistance makes it repellent to mold and mildew. Bamboo also produces 30% more oxygen than a forest of comparable size, and it regenerates without the need for replanting.
The prices vary depending on the product, but Bamboozle does offer free shipping on all orders in the U.S.
#6 – BELKIN SMART PLUGS
Nearly 25% of residential energy consumption is used on devices that aren’t in use—commonly known as energy vampires. Given the number of households in the U.S., that’s $19 billion a year in electricity bills from devices that are turned “off.” Kitchen appliances—coffee maker, toaster, microwave, toaster oven—are wasting both energy and your money when off. Belkin makes a selection of products that conserve power and stop energy vampires.
The Belkin Conserve SocketTM automatically shuts off power to your electronics and appliances when they are not in use. The only time the socket draws any power is when you hit the start button. The socket has three time settings: 30 minutes, 3 hours, and 6 hours. You set the time and the socket turns off the power when the time is up. This is great for kitchen appliances since they are typically only used once or twice a day.
#7 – U KONSERVE FOOD STORAGE
In our country alone, we throw out 30 million tons of plastic per year. Only 8% of that plastic gets recycled. A great deal of our plastic waste comes from packaging food. How many of us take lunch to school or work with plastic utensils, plastic straws, plastic wrap, and resealable plastic bags? Even our reusable containers are often plastic and wear out over time. U Konserve makes food storage products that will reduce your dependence of plastic packaging.
They have numerous stainless steel containers with lids that are made from recyclable plastics. And if a lid cracks or wears out, they will send you another one (just make sure to recycle to damaged lid). But food containers aren’t all they offer. They have a selection of lunch bags made from recycled plastic bottles, bamboo utensils, insulated steel tumblers, and stainless steel straws.
The prices vary depending on the product. Try the Turning Green Starter Kit for $49.35. It comes with two containers, an insulated cup, and the bamboo duo utensil.
#8 – ETEE FOOD WRAPS
There is so much plastic in our oceans that now tiny bits of plastic debris outweighs zooplankton 36-to-1. Replacing plastic wrap is a great way to reduce plastic consumption. When it comes to plastic wrap, we only use it once and often it can’t be recycled due to a variety of reasons: it jams the machines, it’s soiled from food, and the chemicals that make it stretchable can’t be removed, for example. Etee wraps are a great plastic wrap replacement.
Etee wraps are made from organic cotton and coated in organic waxes and oils. Each sheet can be used 120-150 times depending on how you use them. Because they are coated in wax, the wraps stick to themselves and provide a seal. To reuse them, simply rinse them in cold water or wash them by hand with an eco-friendly soap. They work with nearly any food except uncooked meat, and they can last up to a month in the freezer. And when you’re done with them, they are biodegradable.
#9 – DOT & ARMY REUSABLE BOWL COVERS
Another great way to replace plastic wrap is with reusable bowl covers. Dot & Army is a small family-owned company out of Georgia that makes cotton and linen reusable bowl covers (and other products). Not only do these bowl covers reduce plastic consumption, but slipping one over a pot, pan, or bowl prevents the need to transfer into sealable containers, reducing water and energy usage from doing more dishes.
These bowl covers are only for short-term use because they are breathable. So feel free to use them to protect leftovers, batter, dough, and produce. They can also be used for things like covering food that will be eaten later like salads, baked goods, and bowls of nuts. And if they get dirty, they are machine-washable.
#10 – REUSABLE PRODUCE BAGS
Every year, 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. That equates to nearly 1 million bags used every minute! Produce bags are some of the worst plastic bag culprits and they are almost never reused or recycled. Two wonderful products to replace plastic produce bags are EcoBags organic cotton produce bags and ChicoBag produce bags.
ChicoBag produce bags not only cut down on plastic bag waste, but they are made from 100% recycled PET, a type of plastic. Additionally, ChicoBag is a member of the Fair Labor Association and a Green America Approved Business. The produce bags varies depending on size and style, but a three-pack kit sells for $12.99.
EcoBags are made from 100% organic cotton, support fair trade, and have multiple certifications. EcoBags are available in cloth, mesh, and gauze, so they’re great for produce that requires a breathable fabric. Prices vary depending on size and style, but they have a set of three at a great value of $13.78.
BONUS ITEM – IF YOU CARE ALUMINUM FOIL
Surprisingly, aluminum foil is more wasteful than plastic wrap. This is mostly due to the production process. One ton of aluminum takes 1,400 gallons of gasoline to make and emits 12 tons on greenhouse gases. And when you throw it away, it takes 400 years to break down. Even if you reuse your aluminum foil a few times before discarding it, it can be difficult to find aluminum foil recycling—it’s not available here in Orlando. The best thing you can do is eliminate aluminum foil from your kitchen.
If you must use aluminum foil (I admit I use it for cooking), use If You Care aluminum foil. If You Care aluminum foil is made from 100% recycled aluminum. The company’s recycled aluminum uses 95% less energy to produce than traditional manufacturing. They have regular aluminum foil and heavy duty foil that’s stronger and wider for use with grills and ovens. If you do have aluminum recycling in your area, If You Care aluminum foil can be recycled. If You Care aluminum foil is priced at $4.99 for 50 square feet and $5.49 for 30 square feet of the heavy duty foil. And while you’re there, check out there other environmentally-friendly products.
Brite Homes believes in living life responsibly and sustainably, making as little impact on the environment as possible. We build affordable, energy-efficient solar homes, but environmental consciousness should be applied to all aspects of our lives. We hope these products will help you live a greener life, and next time you’re in the market for a home, come in and see us. We’d be delighted to help you.