Let’s talk about a common area in our homes that’s easy to overlook when it comes to going natural, green, and eco-friendly: the KITCHEN! There are so many different gadgets and supplies that we use on a daily basis; many of which are coming in direct contact with our food and what we eat. So today I’m going to share a huge guide that will help you transition out each item in your kitchen and provide you with safer and more environmentally friendly options!
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Areas we’ll cover in this post:
(click to jump to a specific section)
- Natural Dish Washing + Hand Soaps
- Other Kitchen Cleaning Supplies
- Eco-Friendly Food Storage
- Non-Toxic Cookware
- Natural Cooking/Baking Utensils + Supplies
- Organic Cotton Hand Towels
- Composting Food Scraps
- Safer Appliances
- Zero Waste Coffee + Tea
- Water Filter
Natural Dish Washing + Hand Soaps
I just love washing dishes…said no one ever 🍽 But it’s not something I can avoid, so the least I can do is choose some better natural options for washing them 🧽
Better Life Unscented Dish Soap: A budget-friendly option that I like, however, it is in plastic!
Branch Basics: This concentrate can be used for all cleaning needs around your home, including dishes! The ingredients are natural and safe; you can even use your own bottles if you want to avoid plastic.
Ecover Fragrance-Free Dishwasher Tablets: This is what I primarily use for our dishwasher and it works pretty well. I always opt for the fragrance-free tablets. I wish these weren’t individually wrapped in plastic, and the company was recently acquired by SC Johnson; so I might try Dropps Unscented Detergent Pods when these run out!
Natural Latex Cleaning and Dish Gloves: For deep cleaning or doing dishes, these are natural latex with cotton cuffs.
No Tox Life Dishwashing Block: My preferred option for dishwashing! I love this block. You just take a wet brush and scrub it on the block until it lathers, then go to town on your dishes. It lathers really nicely and makes dishes super clean. I have this cute bamboo dish to rest it on.
Redecker Beechwood Dish Brush: Love this eco-friendly brush for dishes! It’s made of untreated beechwood and the fibers are Tampico. The head is replaceable. Redecker also makes a stiffer brush for pots and pans.
Natural Hand Soaps for the Kitchen Sink:
- Branch Basics
- Kosmatology Foaming Hand Soaps: These smell so good and are a perfect organic swap for those Bath & Body Works soaps (code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount)
- OSEA Purifying Hand Soap: Comes in a huge glass bottle and smells like lemons! 🍋
- Plaine Products Refillable Hand Wash: Natural AND they are refillable and come in a non-plastic bottle (code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount)
Other Kitchen Cleaning Supplies
- Branch Basics: As mentioned above, this kit takes care of all household cleaning needs. I use the All-Purpose mix for general kitchen cleaning like wiping counters and also washing fruit. I pair it with the Oxygen Boost for deep cleaning the sink. And the foaming hand wash! 🧼
- Cleaning Essentials: Or if you’d rather DIY your cleaning products, these bottles are glass and have measurements on the side!
- Force of Nature: If you *really* want to disinfect, this converts tap water plus a capsule of salt, water, and vinegar into a non-toxic all-purpose cleaner and deodorizer as effective as bleach!
- Ode to Clean Wipes: These are biodegradable cleaning wipes made from Lyocell plant starch and bioperoxide. I also use these for wiping down counters and such.
- Paper Towels: I always try to use an old rag or cloth first to avoid using something single-use, but sometimes you just need something quick! Who Gives A Crap has some nice bamboo/sugarcane paper towels.
Eco-Friendly Food Storage
There are two major problems with most food storage: it’s either plastic or it’s single-use and then thrown away. I try to avoid plastic, especially when it comes to food, because it actually leaches BPA and chemicals. It’s even worse when heated up in the microwave! Not to mention the environmental impacts. You can learn more about all the different types of plastic in our Positively Green Podcast episode about it. Here are some better options for food storage:
- Beeswax Wrap: This is a natural swap for plastic cling wrap, made of beeswax 🐝 It’s great for wrapping food or covering to seal in moisture. You just wash it with soap and water and reuse it!
- Glass Containers: I love Pyrex containers for storing food. You can bake with them, too!
- Mason Jars: Cheap, cute, and a fun way to store food. You can find these at most grocery stores or places like Target.
- Reusable Produce Bags: Instead of using plastic bags at the grocery store for produce, these are a perfect eco swap.
- Stasher Bags: These are the BEST! They are silicone sandwich bags that you wash and reuse. They have a bunch of different sizes, too.
One of the most common questions I get asked is “What cookware is the safest!?” so here we go! Thankfully, there are a couple of options that are considered non-toxic and it depends on your preferences. I actually use a combination of a few different types.
First of all, what’s wrong with most cookware in the first place? I highly suggest watching the documentary The Devil We Know, which exposes the dangers of Teflon and the chemicals in non-stick cookware. Essentially, chemicals such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA or C8) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) are commonly found in these non-stick coatings. While it’s convenient and makes cooking easy because food slides right off the pan, the exposure to these chemicals is not worth it in my opinion. When heated, these chemicals release toxic gases.
A 2010 study found that almost all people in the United States have PFOA in their blood and the half-life of it is about 3 years. This chemical also does not break down in the environment. This study also found PFOA to have toxic effects on the immune, liver, and endocrine systems.
PFOA has been detected in the blood of more than 98% of the general U.S. population.
Another material to watch out for in cookware is aluminum because it can leach hormone-disrupting chemicals and heavy metals into food. Now let’s talk about some of my preferred options for cookware:
I love Xtrema ceramic cookware 🍳because they use just pure ceramic. No PFOA, PTFE, glues, polymers, coatings, or dyes. Beware of greenwashing when it comes to ceramic cookware – some are actually still coated with non-stick chemicals. The only downfall with ceramic is that it’s pretty fragile. Other than that, I love my Xtrema pots and pans! My main tip for using these cookware options that aren’t non-stick is to use lots of fats! For ceramic, I like to heat up the pan on low heat for a minute or two, then add a fat such as ghee, butter, or avocado oil. That should eliminate any sticking once you start cooking!
Cast Iron Skillets
Hello, natural source of iron! Cast iron skillets are an awesome option. I have Lodge cast iron which comes pre-seasoned in soybean oil which I don’t love, but it’s what I got! But it eventually has to be reseasoned, anyway, so I’m fine with it. Not only does cast iron provide a natural source of iron, but it’s durable and lasts a really long time if you take proper care of it. The main thing is not to wash it with soap like a regular pan. Instead, rinse it with warm water then dry it on the heated stove.
I’ve also seen cast iron waffle makers! 🧇
Glass cookware is nice because it’s non-porous and doesn’t absorb stains, smells, flavors, etc. However, it’s obviously pretty fragile! But it’s budget-friendly. I have Pyrex glass bakeware and it has held up well over the years. These are nice for baking or making casserole-type dishes.
Stainless Steel Pots + Pans
I also have some stainless steel pots in my kitchen. It’s not my favorite option, I just prefer how others perform better. But this is a safe option and can usually be found at most stores for a decent price. The only thing to watch out for with stainless steel is that there are concerns with metals nickel and chromium leaching. This is activated when you cook with acidic or really high-temperature foods. There are usually numbers associated with stainless steel, such as 18/0, 18/8, or 18/10. The first number is the amount of chromium and the second is nickel. The lower the number the better! 360 Stainless Steel is a high-quality brand if you want to go this route! They make baking sheets too.
Related blog post: 16+ Simple Ways to “Greenify” Your Home!
Natural Cooking/Baking Utensils + Supplies
The primary thing I look for when buying cooking utensils is just to avoid plastic or anything non-stick. I opt for alternatives like bamboo, silicone, and stainless steel. Again, watch out for natural materials that are still coated with non-stick. Here are some options to get you started:
- Bamboo Cutting Board: To avoid cutting your food on plastic, bamboo is a lovely alternative! Plus it’s naturally antibacterial 🎍
- Bamboo Spatula Set: Organic bamboo spatula and spoon set for cooking and baking. Or silicone utensils with wood handles are nice too.
- Glass / Silicone/ Stainless Steel Straws: There are lots of options for straws nowadays! I have glass, silicone, and stainless steel straws. I usually opt for glass or silicone instead of stainless steel. Just personal preference and I feel like the steel sometimes gives drinks a weird taste. But it’s still a safe choice!
- Parchment Paper: I like If You Care parchment baking paper because it’s FSC certified, compostable, unbleached, and chlorine-free. They make lots of baking supplies such as these baking cups.
- Silicone Ice Cube Trays: Instead of plastic 🧊 These are food-grade silicone and BPA free. I avoid baking with silicone at high temps because I haven’t read enough research about the safety, but use it for cold things!
Organic Cotton Hand Towels
Pact is another brand I love that has organic cotton, fair trade, GOTS certified hand towels. They have more of a selection, though, when it comes to colors and sizes.
Composting Food Scraps
Did you know that when food scraps go to the landfill, they actually mummify instead of break down? 🗑 I know it sounds extremely “crunchy” to compost, but there are lots of benefits and it’s an easy way to help out the environment. In fact, Kelsey and I did an entire podcast episode about how to get started with composting and why it’s so important.
It really is not as intimidating as it may seem. I have a 17-gallon Envirocycle Compost Tumbler for outside, and this bin for keeping scraps in the kitchen. If composting isn’t your jam, you can at least switch to more eco-friendly trash bags like these!
- Almond Cow: One of my favorite machines ever! You can make your own nut and seed milks at home in just a few minutes. This saves you from having to buy them from the store in plastic bottles or weird ingredients. Read more in this blog post! 🐮You can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount.
- Microwave (or lack thereof): So…this is going to make me seem very crunchy but we actually moved our microwave out of the kitchen and into storage. I always hear so much conflicting evidence about whether they are safe or not, so for me, I’m just being cautious and prefer to heat up my food on the stove or in our toaster oven ⚡️
- Teflon-Free Convection Toaster Oven: Toaster ovens are a quick way to cook food, toast, and bake without using your regular oven. This one by Waring contains no Teflon or non-stick coatings.
- VitaClay Stock Pot: I still have a regular ole’ slow cooker, but once that needs replacing I am going to try this! Many slow cookers are lined with non-stick coating, so I am intrigued by this organic clay cooker that is unglazed, lead-free, and aluminum-free.
Zero Waste Coffee + Tea
I admit, I am a total coffee snob! ☕️ Aside from the fact that it’s super important to buy organic coffee (most coffee is HEAVILY sprayed with pesticides), there are a couple of ways you can reduce your waste when it comes to brewing your morning cup of joe. I have a few methods that I rotate between:
- French Press (Glass): Make sure you opt for a glass french press vs. plastic! These are nice because you don’t need any filters; the french press does the straining. It’s so easy too.
- Pour Over (Chemex): Another great option; these are glass. This one requires a filter! You can either get a reusable filter, otherwise, I suggest these unbleached, compostable coffee filters! If you do use the compostable ones, you might have to double up and use two because they are pretty fragile and break easily when wet.
- Pour Over (Osaka): I also have this pour-over dripper which is very similar to the Chemex but has a reusable filter. And it just looks pretty 😍
- Gooseneck Kettle: I love this stainless steel gooseneck kettle for heating up water to make coffee.
Sorry to say, but most water filters in your fridge or pitchers aren’t really doing much! The Environmental Working Group tested almost 49,000 water utilities across the United States and found a shocking 267 contaminants of concern. So it is DEFINITELY super important to invest in a good water filter 🚰
You can read my blog post about common contaminants found in tap water and learn more about what should be filtered out. I have used a PureEffect 3-Stage Filter for many years now and it’s the best option in my opinion! 💦
Related podcast episode: F is for Fluoride with Melissa Gallico
There you have it! I know that was a lot of information that I just threw at you. But I think it’s an important area of our homes and we use these products so frequently that switching to better alternatives is definitely a priority! If you feel overwhelmed, just try to switch out one thing at a time. You can do it! Leave any questions or comments below.