Give Your Kitchen an Eco-Friendly Makeover
With a little thought and a few simple tools, you can transform any home kitchen into an eco-friendly space. For example, it’s easy to save food scraps to turn into rich soil for your garden (or a community garden) with an odor-trapping compost bucket. You could also trade one-time-use paper towels for a durable eco-friendly sponge cloth and opt for our favorite refillable BPA-free water bottle instead of disposable plastic ones. With these test kitchen–approved gadgets, every day can be Earth Day.
Want to follow a diet that’s eco-friendly, too? Consider incorporating some vegan meals into your regular routine. We make it easy with our new release Vegan for Everybody, which demystifies vegan cooking and presents fresh, plant-based options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between. With more than 200 flavorful, foolproof recipes in this book, there’s no reason to miss meat.
This countertop model is both the simplest to use and the sleekest. Applying light pressure to the carbonating block allowed testers to choose between gentle carbonation and intensely effervescent bubbles. CO2 canisters are long lasting and convenient to exchange in dozens of retail stores (including Crate & Barrel, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Sur la Table) for half of the retail price.
BUY FOR $95
This inexpensive green plastic pail is 8½ inches wide at the base and fits on the counter or in a cabinet under the sink. Food scraps broke down as expected, and odors were completely contained. We fit an average of 12 recipes’ worth of waste before having to empty the bucket. The hinged lid was easy to flick open and closed with a single hand, and the latch kept the lid secure. (A pack of three replacement filters is $7.95; the filter is supposed to be changed every three months.)
This stainless-steel pail is durable and cleans quickly and easily with a little soapy water. The charcoal filter on this unit can pop off if toppled over. The brushed steel finish does not show fingerprints. With less than half the capacity of our winner, this pail needed to be emptied after preparing three to six recipes.
This “97% naturally-derived” dish soap cut through caked-on grime quickly and effortlessly. It cleaned burnt-on chicken teriyaki more than two times faster than other soaps that we tested, and testers loved its “clean,” “herbal” lavender scent.
When dry, this sponge cloth appeared flimsy and brittle, but once wet, it easily swept up spilled barbecue sauce, then rinsed clean in a snap. It is non-toxic, chlorine-free, washer/dryer safe, and can be sterilized in the microwave.
BUY FOR $7
This environmentally friendly dish soap did a commendable job on all our dirty dishes, but some testers were perplexed by its lack of scent and color. “I wouldn’t exactly object to using this stuff on my dishes,” said one, “but I might not be convinced that they’re actually clean.”
BioBags are made from a 100-percent biodegradable and compostable material: Just take the whole bag and toss it on the compost heap. The bag fit perfectly in all the countertop compost bins we tested. Though not essential, these bags were convenient when it was time to empty the compost buckets.
This whimsical 7-inch lid makes a stay-cool bowl cover for the microwave and doubles as a jar opener.
BUY FOR $11
These flexible but sturdy silicone lids use suction to form a seal with the rims of glass, metal, and ceramic bowls. They remained airtight for three days, made leakproof seals on bowls filled with 1 cup of soup or water, and did not slip off sauce-laden bowls in the microwave.
These silicone lids were more flexible than our winning lids, so they did not form an airtight seal on bowls much smaller than their size. With bowls closer to their diameter, these lids were airtight for three days. They were also leakproof when tipped past 90 degrees and did not slip off when heated in the microwave. They are available in pretty lily-pad, banana-leaf, and other patterns, making them attractive options for covered-dish parties.
This sponge cloth mopped up sticky barbecue sauce, rinsed clean with a little soap and water, and was easy to wring dry. It is dishwasher safe and may be boiled for sterilization.
BUY FOR $5
This wedge-shaped silicone scraper with a comfortable handle offers an alternative to rinsing and scrubbing dishes destined for the dishwasher. Many times more flexible than a traditional bowl scraper, it bends for easy squeegeeing. We used it to clear off sauce-encrusted dishes, bowls smeared with gummy dough, and more—all without using any water. But the proof was in the dishes themselves: Squeegeed bowls and plates emerged from the dishwasher shining and squeaky-clean.
BUY FOR $9
This sleek mug kept coffee drinkably hot for twice as long as it took for us to get to work (over an hour), but what really made this a top tumbler was its simple, leakproof lid design, which made it super easy to handle and a cinch to clean.
BUY FOR $30
This bottle’s clear plastic sides made it easy to fill, and its bi-level twist-on lid was secure and easy to sip from. Its tether stayed out of the way and folded into a handy carrying loop.
BUY FOR $12
Roomy, knife-friendly, and exceptionally durable, this teak slab was worth every penny. It resisted warping and cracking, showed only minor scratches, never seemed “thirsty,” and—despite its heft—was easy to lift and clean, thanks to handholds on each end.
BUY FOR $97
These silicone bottle caps fit the tops of 12-ounce glass beer and soda bottles. Tough but slightly stretchy, they come in packs of six, 12, or 54. (If you lose the top of a plastic bottle of seltzer or soda, they’ll fit that, too.) Testing was fun: We downed half of a beer, capped the rest, and set it in the refrigerator. The beer was still effervescent the next evening. But don’t wait too long: After 48 hours, the cap blew off one bottle and another beer was left a bit flat.
BUY FOR $10
Once you get the hang of lowering the food-safe latex balloon into the bottle and inflating it just above the leftover wine’s surface, this budget-friendly device effectively seals off air, preserving wine’s drinkability for at least one month (we are continuing to test). A downside: You can seal only one bottle at a time. Balloons are guaranteed for 80 uses; replacement balloons cost about $4.
BUY FOR $28
This inexpensive sealer attaches with an easy one-handed motion and an affirming click. Wine saved with it was just as fresh as a newly opened bottle for two full days (a full week if left undisturbed) and still drinkable on day three, thanks to its protruding plug and a secure closure that combined to make the best seal. Once on, it was almost flat against the top of the bottle and fit easily in the fridge.
BUY FOR $9
All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.