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Use This, Not that Plastic Thing: Expert Advice on 5 Easy, Eco Swaps for the Kitchen

Just as dieters have Eat This, Not That guidelines, so too do advocates of zero-waste living. A devotee of the movement is Lauren Singer, who began with a blog, Trash Is for Tossers and has since launched her own laundry soap company, The Simply Co., as well as Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s Package Free Shop, a purveyor of plastic-free essentials.

Over the past six years, Singer hasn’t sent a single garbage bag to the landfill (her nonrecyclable detritus fills just a single Mason jar). “Large-scale environmental change is my North Star,” she says. Over on Remodelista, we just shared her tips for beginners wanting to reduce their household waste (see Expert Advice). Here, for The Organized Home, she shares her fast five alternatives to plastic in the kitchen.

N.B.: The recommended products are available from Singer’s shop and plenty of other sources. She herself is in this to change practices, and she encourages you to save money and resources by taking the DIY route whenever you can.

Trash Is for Tossers Mesh Bag
Above: Bypass your grocery store’s tossable plastic in favor of reusable—and washable—Net Produce Sacks; $5.25 for medium, $6.25 for large. Back home, they go straight into the produce drawers. Singer herself uses these drawstring mesh bags for all sorts of things: “They’re great for storing laundry when I travel, carrying my gym clothes, and washing delicates.”
Trash Is for Tossers Glass Spice Jars
Above: Here’s one you can make on your own. Instead of buying spices in single-use plastic jars, buy from the bulk aisle and assemble your own collection of small glass jars. (If you don’t have any, we’ve found paint jars at art supply stores work well.) The examples shown here, from Gneiss Spice, are hexagonal and fit together in a honeycomb, and they have magnetic lids that enable them to be clustered on a metal wall base—or hung on a fridge door. Refill spices are available from Gneiss too.
Trash Is for Tossers Bees Wrap
Above: Substitute plastic cling wrap for reusable beeswax food wrap—yes, it sticks and is rinsable and reusable. It works for covering bowls, wrapping sandwiches, and keeping cut vegetables and herbs fresh. There are several brands available; Singer likes Abeego ($19.50 for a trio in three sizes, shown here) because the company itself practices zero waste: “The packaging is plastic-free and they use their scraps to make fire starters.”
Trash Is for Tossers Dish Cloths
Above: Juniper Seed’s handy bundles of organic cotton Unpaper Towels ($16 for six) are for those of us who still reach for paper towels to mop up spills and wipe counters. Of course any small towels do the trick—as do rags made from your worn-out cotton sheets and tees. The key is to keep a plentiful supply in your kitchen, plus a basket or bucket under the sink for tossing the used ones. Then wash and repeat.
Trash Is for Tossers Metal Ice Mold
Above: No automatic ice maker? Discover your grandparents’ Stainless Steel Ice Tray; $32. The start-of-the-art cubes it makes are larger than the norm these days. “At a party, if you leave out the ice tray in your bar area,” says Singer, “it looks like you have your shit together.”
N.B.: This post is an update; it was first published on April 13, 2018.

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