Do Your Part for the Planet With 10 Earth-Friendly Kitchen Items

By , SparkPeople Blogger
These days, seeing photos of whales washing up on beaches, stomachs full of plastic waste and other debris seems, sadly, like a regular occurance. Single-use plastics and other trash make up the majority of the pollutants in the ocean and elsewhere. One look out your car window to the side of the highway or other main roads reveals another such place for garbage disposal. And that oddly shaped "hill" with trucks running up and down it? That's your friendly neighborhood landfill, folks, and that small mountain is all your trash. 

In fact, the nearly eight million metric tons of plastic that gets tossed (instead of recycled) is here to stay—it won't break down and be eaten by worms and other bacteria like your banana peel or apple core. Even if you are diligent about throwing your trash in the trash can and not littering, tons of recyclables end up in landfills or are washed into storm drains, sewers and other routes that eventually lead to our waterways.
Though it might seem like an overwhelming problem—how can you possibly do anything about eight million tons of plastic alone, not to mention other trash?—you can help. By cutting down on single-use plastics like straws, water bottles and bags, and by using other reusable kitchen items, you can do your part to ensure that current ocean cleanup efforts aren't for nothing. Plus, less waste means less running to the store to replace what you've used, so going greener is also a bonus for your wallet.

1. Stainless Steel Drinking Straws ($10.99)

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These metal straws from JOYECO come in a set of eight (four straight, four bent) in a rainbow of metallic colors. They also come with two cleaning brushes, so you can be sure to clean out every nook and cranny between uses. The act of trading in plastic straws for reusable ones (alternatives also include paper, bamboo and straws made of actual straw) has even sparked a campaign by the organization Lonely Whale to keep the 500 million straws Americans use every day from getting into the oceans, aptly called #StopSucking.
2. Reusable Produce Bags ($11.59)

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Why reach for those annoyingly oversized plastic produce bags at the grocery when you can simply bring your own reusable bags? This set from Baskiss includes 12 drawstring bags in three different sizes (small, medium and large). The bags are breathable, reusable and machine washable. They're also great for holding bulk items or in any other situation where you'd normally reach for a plastic bag.
3. Silicone Baking Mat ($9.62)

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This set of two reusable silicone baking mats from AmazonBasics makes it easy to bake cookies or sheet-pan recipes without needing extra oil or cooking sprays, making them not only healthier for the environment but healthier for you, too. These oven-safe mats are flexible, coated with food-grade silicone for a non-stick surface and are a breeze to clean. Just line, bake, clean and repeat.
4. Reusable Food Wrap (starting at $18)

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Cut down on plastic baggies, plastic wrap, foil and plastic containers with this reusable food wrap from Bee's Wrap. Available in assorted sizes, this wrap is made from organic cotton, sustainably harvested beeswax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin. Simply use the warmth of your own hands to mold the beeswax-coated material around your bowl, sandwich, fruit, vegetable, cheese—you name it. They can be easily washed with cold water and a mild soap. Each wrap lasts about a year and are compostable thereafter.
5. Glass Water Bottle ($10.34)

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Stop buying single-use water bottles and opt for this 20-ounce glass water bottle by Contigo, instead. Made entirely of glass and steel with a food-grade silicone cover (to keep your bottle from breaking), this big-mouthed bottle will become your go-to for all your hydration needs. It's also top-rack dishwasher safe and BPA-free.
6. Compostable Kitchen Garbage Bags ($15.95)

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These 13-gallon compostable garbage bags by UNNI are perfect for use in your kitchen for food waste or any other organic waste you need to bundle (think about all those pesky fall leaves that can now actually have a chance at breaking down in the landfill). The bags are made from plant starches and contain absolutely no polyethylene. However, they still remain durable and reliable and can keep in a cool, dry place for up to one year.
7. Compostable Plates ($9.99)

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Cleaning up after guests can be a pain, and who has enough dinner plates for a large party, anyway? Lesson your carbon imprint and enjoy the convenience of disposable plates at picnics, family reunions, pizza nights or any time you don't want to wash up a mountain of dishes but also don't want to create mounds of garbage. These nine-inch, biodegradable, round plates from Harvest Pack come in a pack of 50 and are made from a strong sugarcane fiber that leaves no carbon footprint. They are unbleached, great for both hot and cold food, are microwaveable and can hold both solid and liquid food. To complete the reusable picnic circuit, you can also try compostable cutlery and cups.
8. Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags ($17.99)

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BEEHOME's reusable silicone food bags are a great way to replace or reduce your reliance on disposable plastic bags. Made of food-grade silicone, the bags do not contain any fillers, coatings, BPA, BPS, BPF, PVC or any other "iffy" plastic compounds. They are leak-proof and lock with a zipping mechanism to ensure air-tight preservation of your leftovers, sandwiches, snacks or anything you want to keep fresh. They can be stored in the fridge or freezer and are both microwave and dishwasher safe.  
9. Reusable Coffee Cup (starting at $19.99)

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Perfect for carrying every morning's on-the-go coffee, this 16-ounce, reusable container by SOCOO is double-wall vacuum sealed and can keep beverages hot for up to six hours or cold for up to eight hours. The cup also incorporates a handle that makes it easy to grab and hold if your hands are full. It is leak-proof and has a rubber grip on the bottom so it won't slip and slide around your surfaces. 
10. Reusable K-Cup Coffee Filters ($10.95)

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Even the inventor of the K-Cup admits he created a monster with his cup-at-a-time coffee dispenser method that uses disposable, single-use coffee pods to brew your morning cup of joe. Now, you can still enjoy the convenience of those kinds of machines without all the waste by using a reusable K-Cup coffee filter from GoodCups. Simply fill the filter with your favorite ground coffee and insert into just about any K-Cup machine. The filters are made with high-quality materials and contain no lead, DEHP or BPA.
What's your favorite earth-friendly kitchen item?
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