Eco-Friendly Kitchen Products for a Happy and Sustainable 2023

The planet will thank you

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Commerce Photo Composite

The Spruce Eats / Lecia Landis

The 21st-century kitchen is full of all kinds of great stuff for making incredible meals, but all that great stuff is a lot of…stuff, and it’s important to consider the impact certain kitchen items have on the earth. There are lots of ways to make a kitchen product more eco-friendly, whether that’s by designing a reusable version of a disposable item, getting rid of questionable ingredients, or more efficient manufacturing. There are tons of brands selling clever inventions that are better for us and the planet—find the best of the best below.

Best Cookware

Caraway Cookware Set

5
caraway-cookware-set

Caraway

What We Like
  • Trendy color palette

  • Very durable

  • Great value

What We Don't Like
  • Hand wash recommended

Caraway offers a complete non-stick cookware set that uses a special ceramic coating instead of traditional non-stick materials that can release certain unwanted chemicals, including PFOA, when heated to high temperature. The pans themselves are aluminum with stainless-steel handles, are oven-safe up to 550 degrees, and can be used on a variety of cooktops. The Spruce Eats testing Lab found the pans’ even heating and lack of hot spots provided an adequate surface when searing chicken or frying eggs.

Our home tester struggled to find anything they didn't like about this set (they gave it a perfect score); the only thing they noted was that the handles tend to get hot when used on the stove for a long time. Remedy this issue by having a thick dish towel or potholder on standby when you're ready to move your pans. 

The complete set is a great deal considering how many pieces are included: a 10.5-inch frying pan, 3-quart saucepan, 4.5-quart saucepan, and 6.5-quart Dutch oven, plus a handy lid storage organizer. If fewer pieces are needed or you want to try one pan before committing to the entire set, Caraway’s cookware can now be purchased individually.

Price at time of publish: $545

caraway cookware pot with food cooking

The Spruce Eats / Lindsay Boyers

Material: Aluminum with ceramic coating | Oven Safe: Up to 550 degrees | Induction Ready: Yes | Labels: Free of PTFE (such as Teflon), free of heavy metals, free of PFOA, free of other PFAs

What Our Testers Say

"Even when cooking on low to medium heat, the pots and pans got really hot and our eggs and bacon cooked evenly and quickly." Lindsay Boyers, Product Tester

Best Dish Soap

Blueland Dish Soap Starter Kit

Blueland Dish Soap Starter Kit

Blueland

 

What We Like
  • Cuts through grease

  • Rinses off well

  • Lasts a long time

What We Don't Like
  • More expensive than traditional dish soap

Blueland was founded on the belief that people shouldn’t have to sacrifice a clean home for a clean planet. All of the brand’s household products come packaged in reusable bottles and are made from naturally derived ingredients with zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs), parabens, phosphates, ammonia, chlorine bleach, or phthalates. It is EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Safer Choice, Cradle to Cradle Certified, Leaping Bunny compliant (not tested on animals), vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free.

The reusable shaker that comes with the initial starter pouch of powdered dish soap has a sleek, minimalist look, and the soap itself rapidly transitions into a familiar liquid consistency when mixed with water. The full list of ingredients is clearly stated along with additional clarification as to whether a specific agent is synthetic or not, which can be helpful for those with sensitivities to certain fragrances or ingredients (the soap that comes with this kit is fragrance-free, though). The company material safety data sheets are also accessible online, offering a rare and high-level of transparency compared to other brands.

Price at time of publish: $20

Shaker Material: Silicone | Volume: 16 ounces | What’s Included: 1 Forever Shaker and 16 ounces of fragrance-free powder dish soap | Labels: Made without parabens, phosphates, ammonia, VOCs, chlorine bleach, or phthalates; vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free; EPA Safer Choice, Cradle to Cradle Certified, Leaping Bunny

What Our Editors Say

"Swapping my usual plastic bottle of dish soap from the store for this reusable shaker and powder combo was a small change that continues to make me feel good about caring for the environment. Equally as important is that it works well, too." Taylor Rock, Editor

Best Surface Cleaner

Lemi Shine Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner

Lemi Shine Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Naturally scented

  • Bleach free

  • Claims to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses

What We Don't Like
  • Can leave sticky residue on some surfaces

This all-purpose cleaner is an ideal choice for the kitchen since the company attests it kills 99.9 percent of all bacteria sans bleach. Instead, it uses “natural” cleansing agents in combination with citric acid to achieve an antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and antibacterial effect against germs, grime, and hard water buildup.

Also thanks to the citric acid, the product has a lemony scent. Use this spray formula to clean the toughest grime, remove stubborn stains and odors, and even neutralize common household allergens. It can be used on the vast majority of hard, non-porous surfaces in the kitchen, such as countertops, fixtures, floors, and tables.

Price at time of publish: $6.69

Active Ingredient: Citric acid | Volume: 28 ounces | Bottles Included: 3 | Labels: Bleach-free, dye-free, paraben-free, phenol-free, alcohol-free, gluten-free, phosphate-free, free of glycol solvents, free of chlorine of formaldehyde, free of formaldehyde, free of dyes and perfumes, free of glycol solvents, rinse-free formula

What Our Experts Say

When it comes to cleaners, buy non-toxic brands or be thrifty by making your own environmentally friendly disinfectants. “By spending approximately $20 on a 32-ounce bottle of a non-toxic base, like Castile soap, one can make over 400 ounces of an all-purpose cleanser—much cheaper than periodically getting low-budget options at a dollar store for a whole year,” says health educator and The Green Laundress owner Erica Ahmed.

Best Reusable Snack Bag

Stasher Reusable Silicone Food Storage Sandwich Bag

Stasher Reusable Silicone Food Storage Sandwich Bag

Target

What We Like
  • Secure pinch and lock seal

  • Stylish design

  • Can be used to cook sous vide

What We Don't Like
  • Takes a bit to air dry

Stasher bags are made from 100 percent platinum silicone, which basically means this product has a tendency to not show any noticeable signs of wear and tear for quite some time. Each bag measures 7.5 x 7 x 1 inches and holds up to 15 fluid ounces. They are safe to use in the microwave, dishwasher, and freezer. 

The durability of these bags is what makes them stand out from the competition. They can weather temperatures up to 425 degrees in the oven or boiling water, making them great for sous vide cooking. Of course, they're also great for storing and keeping your food fresh, especially fresh greens and chopped veggies. They come in handy for traveling, too, such as for storing travel-size toiletries due to the shape and size making them easy to slip into a variety of purses, messenger bags, and other commuter accessories. 

The pinch and lock seal requires a “burp” to get the air out and a pinch across the top to close them shut. To make them even more of a draw, there are 25 different color varieties, so you can choose your favorite shade. One Stasher sandwich bag is estimated to replace 260 plastic bags per year.

Price at time of publish: $13

Material: Platinum silicone | Capacity: 15 ounces | Number Included: 1 (though sets are available, too) | Labels: No BPA, BPS, lead, latex, or phthalates

What Our Editors Say

"I use these to prep veggies for the week and throw them in the dishwasher when they need to be cleaned. The seal is super tight, too. Bye, single-use plastic baggies." Taylor Rock, Editor

Best Food Huggers

Food Huggers Fruit and Veggie Huggers

Food Huggers Fruit and Veggie Huggers

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Reusable

  • Dishwasher-safe

  • Fun colors

  • Can use on produce and cans

What We Don’t Like
  • Takes a bit to air dry

Plastic wrap can be a convenient kitchen tool, but it really adds up when you’re using it every time you need to store half of an avocado, lime, or apple. That’s where Food Huggers come in. These reusable food savers, sold in a set of five (ranging from extra-small to extra-large), keep your leftover fruits and vegetables fresher for longer—they can also be used to seal opened cans or jars. The smaller sizes are ideal for cucumbers and limes, while the larger ones work great with apples and onions. 

Food Huggers come with a lifetime warranty and help cut down on single-use plastic wrap, plastic bags, and foil. To use, simply press down the fruit or vegetable into the Food Hugger, and the edges will fold down and around your food to create a seal.

“I’ve had my Food Huggers for a few months now, and I almost always have at least one actively in use,” says Abigail Abesamis Demarest, writer for The Spruce Eats. “I cook with onions a lot, but rarely use the entire thing at once, so the extra-large Food Hugger comes in handy for saving what I don’t use for later.” 

If she’s making avocado toast for lunch, she uses a large Food Hugger to save the other half and keep it from browning and then throws it in the dishwasher when it needs to be cleaned (there's also an avocado-shaped version, which our tester loved). She found that she often has to use a towel to fully dry the inside, but says she doesn’t mind. For storage, the five Huggers nest inside each other—a convenient and space-saving feature, allowing the set to stay nestled away in a cooking utensils drawer.

Price at time of publish: $17

Food Huggers

The Spruce Eats / Abigail Abesamis_Demarest

Material: Silicone | Number of Pieces: 5 | Dishwasher Safe: Yes | Labels: BPA-free

Best Reusable Straws

Klean Kanteen 3-Piece Straw Set

4.8
Klean Kanteen 3-Piece Straw Set

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Silicone tips easier on teeth

  • Dishwasher safe

  • Includes expander tube to lengthen straws

What We Don't Like
  • Not for use with hot drinks

While stainless steel straws are ideal for punching through plastic to-go lids, silicone straws have a softer mouthfeel—this straw was designed for both scenarios. The bottom piece is made of stainless steel, and the top part is a curved silicone flex tip, so it’s very comfortable to drink through since you can sip without having to tip your head at an awkward angle.

These straws are quite versatile in regards to the types of beverages they can be used with. Each can also be used in different size glassware and containers, thanks to the expander tube included with the set. While no cleaning tools are included, our tester found the straws wide enough to rinse out sufficiently with water and soap. Plus, they can be put in the dishwasher.

Price at time of publish: $9.95

Material: Stainless steel, food-grade silicone | Count: 3 | Labels: BPA-free

What Our Testers Say

"I personally really appreciate how durable these straws are, plus that they can be used safely by people of various ages (and with different size containers thanks to the expander tube included with the set, which can be trimmed to add to each straw to make them longer as needed)." — Rachel Werner, Product Tester

Best Reusable Paper Towel

Mioeco Reusable Unpaper Towels

4.8
mioeco-reusable-unpaper-towels

Amazon

What We Like
  • Biodegradable

  • Full paper towel size

What We Don't Like
  • May shrink if put in dryer

If minimizing negative effects on the environment is the main goal behind replacing outdated cleaning methods, snag an affordable bundle of these Global Organic Textile Standard-certified kitchen cloths. Produced with carbon-neutral manufacturing, the absorbent cotton is long-lasting, machine washable, and not dyed or bleached. 

Additional favorite features of our home tester include that they are effective at removing tough stains and grease from appliances, can be used as napkins at mealtime, and are super simple to sanitize. Plus, if the majority of your kitchen decor is neutral or earth tones, they look quite chic next to the sink and hanging on towel racks. MioEco estimates that one reusable cloth paper towel can replace up to 130 rolls of standard paper towels.

Price at time of publish: $28.95

Material: Organic Cotton | Count: 10 | Size: 11.02 x 2.95 x 2.95 inches | Labels: Made from 100% GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton in a Fair Trade certified factory, bleach-free

What Our Testers Say

"I like this product a lot—so much so that sometimes we used them as napkins, too. The only minor suggestion I have is to make them available in other colors and prints." — Rachel Werner, Product Tester

Best Food Containers

Glasslock 18-Piece Assorted Oven Safe Container Set

4.8
glasslock-18-piece-assorted-oven-safe-container-set

Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Fully transparent

What We Don't Like
  • Crumbs can get stuck under gasket seals

This container set from Glasslock stands out because of its quality build and design. The 18-piece set (the count includes the lids) has four rectangular containers in varying sizes, two square containers in a small and large size, and three different-sized round containers. 

The containers themselves are recyclable glass made from silica, soda ash, limestone, and other natural components; they're also oven safe. Each of the BPA-free plastic lids has a rubber gasket and four latches, making them completely airtight and as leakproof as it gets. Our tester praised the airtight lock and the fact that these containers are easily stackable, allowing for convenient compact storage. This set doesn’t stain and keeps leftovers very fresh, although the lids may be a little hard to close initially.

Price at time of publish: $57

glasslock container with cooked pasta inside

The Spruce Eats / Linnea Covington

Material: Glass | Number in Set: 9 | Items: (1) 6.3-cup rectangle, (2) 3.5-cup rectangle, (1) 1.6-cup rectangle, (1) 3.3-cup square, (1) 1.5-cup square, (1) 3.1-cup round, (1) 1.6-cup round, and (1) 0.7-cup round containers, plus 9 lids | Labels: BPA-free

What Our Testers Say

"This 18-piece set proves thick, sturdy, and completely see-through, so you always know which goodies you’ve stowed in the fridge or pantry." — Linnea Covington, Product Tester

Best Grocery Bag

Lotus Trolley Bags Reusable Grocery Cart Bags

lotus-trolley-bags

Amazon

What We Like
  • Assorted colors

  • Money-back guarantee offered

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

As California proposed a bag ban in 2016, Jennifer and Farzan Dehmoubed launched Lotus Sustainables to eliminate the need for single-use plastics on shopping excursions. The brand’s trolley bags, mesh produce bags, and organic cotton bags have proven to be handy accessories when stocking up on groceries and other household items, because they help consumers separate purchases prior to getting home—a mega time saver. Lotus claims it’s already eliminated the need for more than three billion plastic bags via its product line. And the founders donate 10 percent of profits to support a plastic-free future.

The trolley bags in particular steal the show. These heavy-duty reusable bags spread out accordion-style across the top of most standard American grocery carts. They’re also specifically designed to keep produce, eggs, and wine organized while preventing food or beverages from touching the cart. Each bag, except for the insulated one, is machine washable, has mold-resistant mesh bottoms, and features additional pockets on the inside and outside. Another fun fact: The use of one trolley bag prevents 1,500 plastic bags from ending up in landfills every year.

Price at time of publish: $60

Weight capacity: Over 50 pounds | Count: 4 | What’s Included: 4 heavy-duty reusable bags, including an insulated cooler bag and removable support rods for cart and non-cart use | Labels: Mold-resistant mesh bottoms

What to Look for in Eco-Friendly Kitchen Products

Reusability

One of the easiest ways to make your kitchen more eco-friendly is to change from storage and prep items that you use once and throw away to ones that can be used over and over. Plastic bags, aluminum foil, paper towels, and lots of other items can swap out for multi-use equivalents that keep trash out of the landfill.

Materials

From metal pans that contain cadmium or lead to plastics and cleaning products made with environmental toxins, there could be some materials lurking in your kitchen that are bad for humans and our planet. Eco-friendly alternatives to these items change the manufacturing process or substitute better ingredients to create identical (or at least similar) versions. And when those items do wear out, eco-friendly materials tend to be easier to recycle.

Certifications

Certain organizations are able to certify products that meet certain standards that can then be labeled to show they're truly eco-friendly. These are called "ecolabels," which are owned or managed by government agencies, nonprofit environmental advocacy organizations, or private sector entities. Some EPA-developed ecolabels to look out for include: EnergyStar, Safer Choice, SmartWay, SNAP, CPG, and WaterSense.

Price Point

Invest in well-made kitchen goods up front to lessen your carbon footprint by needing to replace items often. Just because something seems expensive, that doesn't always mean it's overpriced. Good, quality, better-for-the-environment materials that last are a worthy investment.

FAQs

What does eco-friendly mean?

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), buying green (or eco-friendly) is "safer for you and your family, reduces the impact on our environment by using energy, water, and materials more efficiently than conventional products, and often saves you money, especially over the full life of the product if you buy a more durable or more efficient model."

What are some eco-friendly materials?

Cleaning naturally means prioritizing tidying up without synthetic products or harsh abrasives. Make it a point to know what’s in all containers, cloths, and cookware  before use. Keep an eye out for quality ingredients from the earth, such as organic cotton and essential oils. If purchasing items made out of plastic, be sure it’s labeled BPA-free.

Are reusable straws recyclable?

If a reusable straw is made out of stainless steel, then yes, and bamboo straws are compostable. However, straws made out of plastic or borosilicate glass are not.

How do you clean reusable straws?

“Get a reusable straw that folds up if possible; it’s way easier to keep clean in a bag or purse,” says Browngirl Green creator Kristy Drutman. “You can also wash a reusable straw like any other utensil you have in your home with soap and water.” However, some, including the Klean Kanteen line highlighted above, can also be sterilized in the dishwasher, although you may want to periodically remove any plastic tips to wash by hand and air dry.

How do you clean reusable paper towels?

Start by reading the specified care instructions. Most reusable paper cloths can be rinsed by hand using water and a mild dish detergent before squeezing out excess water. Then, allow them to dry flat either on a dish rack or sink edge. If the towels are indicated as being dishwasher-safe, place them in the machine’s top rack to avoid oversaturation. Machine washable towels do best in cold or warm rinse cycles with a gentle laundry soap—although some can be bleached. Try to air dry whenever possible because placing them in a standard dryer may cause shrinkage over time.

How else can I be more eco-friendly?

Beyond purchasing reusable products or single-use products with Earth-friendly materials, the EPA suggests the following:

  • Can you repair something you already own?
  • Do you really need the product?
  • Can you buy a service or rent a product when you need it rather than buying the product?
  • Can you buy a used product? 

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Rachel Werner is a professional content creator, author, and book reviewer. Her work has appeared in Fabulous Wisconsin, Entrepreneurial Chef, and the book "Wisconsin Cocktails" (UW Press, 2020).

Jason Horn, who also contributed to this roundup, has been a commerce writer for The Spruce Eats since 2022, covering and testing pretty much anything and everything you can eat or drink, or use to make food and drinks.

Abigail Abesamis Demarest is a freelance journalist who specializes in food and drink content. She tests products for The Spruce Eats and writes love letters to her favorite kitchen tools.

Sources

Erica Ahmed is a health educator and owner of The Green Laundress, a company that produces eco-friendly cleaning products.

Kristy Drutman is a youth climate activist and the creator of Browngirl Green.

Additional reporting by
Taylor Rock
taylor rock the spruce eats
Taylor is an editor on the commerce team, where she creates and edits copy for The Spruce Eats. She joined Dotdash Meredith in November 2020, but her admiration for food and drink is lifelong.
Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process
and
Abigail Abesamis Demarest
Abigail Abesamis Demarest
Abigail Abesamis Demarest is a freelance writer, editor, and former New Yorker based in sunny Panama City Beach, Florida. Her writing has been featured in HuffPost Food & Drink, Forbes.com, Insider, The Kitchn, MarthaStewart.com, Thrillist, and more.
Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process
Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Introduction to Ecolabels and Standards for Greener Products.

  2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Buying Green for Consumers.

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