Simple Ways to Create a Plastic-Free Kitchen

 Bees wrap is a great plastic-wrap alternative and one of our favorite food storage solutions. Image:  Bees Wrap

Bees wrap is a great plastic-wrap alternative and one of our favorite food storage solutions. Image: Bees Wrap

Since starting the Plastic-Free July challenge, and in our overall quest to live a more sustainable, healthy, ethical lifestyle, we’ve realized more than ever how much plastic is around us all the time, ESPECIALLY in our kitchens.

We bought some groceries the other day, plastic-bag free (great start!) but then we looked at the purchases… and they were all pre-packaged in plastic! Pre-packaged plastic is actually what led Lauren Singer (founder of The Simply Co) to live a zero-waste lifestyle. We highly recommend her TED talk if you’re passionate about living a life completely plastic-free!

We mentioned some of the environmental impacts of plastic in the beginning of July, but one are we haven’t really touched on is the health impacts of plastic. You can learn more about that is this quick breakdown.

Now, ready to get started? It’s easier to go plastic-free in the kitchen than you think!

These plastic-free stainless steel containers have a helpful window to see what's inside.

KITCHEN UTENSILS

  • Ice trays. Ice is a staple for iced coffees, sweet tea, fresh watermelon lemonade, and the whole month of July. W & P Designs also has a variety of silicone and stainless steel ice trays. The water bottle ice tray is ingenious.

  • Cookie box. This box is not only perfect for loading up at your local bakery, but for storing cookies at home. You know all the ingredients you’re putting in your cookies at home, you wouldn’t want the chemicals from your tupperware containers leaking into them! This box protects them from chemicals, and keeps your dog from eating all of them.

  • Microwave cover. We mentioned how heat can increase the migration in products, and your plastic cover probably isn’t an exception. But this glass cover is, and it’s super cute!

  • Drying rack. As much as we wished our dishes were washed and dried and put away in a timely manner, they may sit in the drying rack for a bit longer than we’d like. Which is totally okay if you have some cute, plastic-free dishes to display in a stainless steel rack or a bamboo rack! 

  • Bowls. Nesting bowls are kitchen necessities, and these glass ones are perfect for any kitchen.

  • Cutting boards. Plastic cutting boards are great for their durability, but these bamboo ones are even better! They’re durable as well as beautiful so they can double as serving boards.

  • Pot scrapers. These little bamboo pot scrapers are exactly what you need to scrub anything off your dirty dishes. If you buy an extra, you can also use it to scrape ice off your windshield in the winters!

  • Spatulas, serving spoons, tongs… Bambu is your one-stop-shop for any kitchen utensils you might need!

 If you store liquids in a mason jar, then  this spout from W & P Designs  is great for pouring them out!

If you store liquids in a mason jar, then this spout from W & P Designs is great for pouring them out!

MASON JAR ACCESSORIES

  • If you store liquids in a mason jar, then this spout from W & P Designs is great for pouring them out!

  • Drink Tops. This drink top from EcoJarz fits on top of your mason jars so that way you can drink out of it on the go!

  • Bamboo storage lids. These lids are a lifesaver to store extra dry pasta in your pantry, or extra smoothie in your fridge.

  • Soap dispenser. This two-piece metal lid goes on any of your mason jars in order to turn them into a liquid soap dispenser.

  • Herbs. Gardens are a great idea, but not always possible. Growing herbs in a mason jar is an easy SHE shift you can make to have fresh herbs for cooking and decorate your kitchen. This detailed post will help you in your quest.

 Growing herbs in a mason jar is an easy SHE shift you can make to have fresh herbs for cooking and decorate your kitchen.

Growing herbs in a mason jar is an easy SHE shift you can make to have fresh herbs for cooking and decorate your kitchen.


PLASTIC-FREE SHOPPING

  • Produce bags. You might have a cute fruit bowl to display all your farmer’s market goodies, but first they have to get there. For all your fruit transportation needs, try out these produce bags from EcoBags or this multi-pack made from organic cotton by Earth Junky (fun name, right! : )

  • Reusable grocery bags. There are plenty of great ones out there, and most large department stores are already selling them. We have major heart eyes for the bags from The Tote Project (which jsut came out with a new, larger version perfect for shopping!), 2nd Story Goods, and a few other brands.

  • Purchase your oils in tinted glass. The tinted glass cuts down on light getting into your oils, which causes it to go rancid. You can understand why that’s not good. Most oil companies know that, and make an effort to package their oils effectively. Cooking with coconut oil is the best option (we LOVE coconut oil! Talk about a great brain food!) but for the rest of your oils, always buy tinted glass.

  • Try and buy all of your other foods packaged in glass instead of plastic. This is much easier to do in the store, so look around for another option if what you usually buy comes in a plastic container. The great thing about this is that when you’re done, you can wash the glass container and use them again and again! You can also shop at stores with bulk bins and bring your own containers.

  • Tea. In one of our #SHE365 posts, we suggested making the switch from bleached to unbleached tea bags. Unfortunately, bleach is not the only chemical lurking in our tea bags and thus in our tea. Usually the tea bags have some sort of plastic coating, contain glue, or are made out of nylon, and these chemicals not only seep into your tea but affect the taste. Paromi teas come in beautiful glass jars, and each tea bag is individually packaged in a biodegradable bag that provides maximum taste and maximum freshness.

  • Canned goods are plastic-free and seem like a great option when in actuality, you should avoid canned goods like the plague. The lining is filled with BPA that gets into your food and is simply not good for you. Go to your local farmer’s market and pick up some fresh food that’s in season! It tastes better… possibly due to the increased amount of nutrients and decreased amount of sodium! You can also find some homegrown and homecanned foods in mason jars, like these delicious peaches, canned by Jake & Amos, or over at Kauffman’s Fruit Farm.

  • Washing your dishes is important, we’re sure you know why. Dish soap has enough chemicals without the plastic container it comes in, but this solid bar of dish soap is a nice eco-friendly option.

  • Check out Goodwill or your local thrift store when purchasing new items for your kitchen. They have plenty of fun ceramic dinner plates for less than a dollar, glass jars upon glass jars upon glass jars, and metal cookie cutters instead of cheap plastic ones. It’s better for your wallet, and a great practice in sustainability by giving new life to previously used objects.  

  • While non-stick pans are plastic-free, what makes the pan not sticky are chemicals released during cooking. Phthalates are a primary ingredient leaching into your food. When possible, buy cast iron pans (then iron migrates into your food and that’s a good thing!!!) or glassware.

  • Start by replacing the products you do have when they break before buying new ones. All of the plastic you’re using now is going to be on this earth for a long time, so you may as welll use it now while you still have it.

Shopping plastic-free is not only environmentally friendly, but budget friendly. It’s expensive. ECO Lunch Boxes did a lunch study on how much a family who packs their lunch everyday (1 adult, 2 kids) would save by switching to a plastic-free kitchen. The answer is $453 A YEAR. That’s insane! Think of how much money you could save… or instead spend on ethically made yoga pants. We won’t judge either way. But seriously, switching to a more SHE kitchen can help you make other SHE shifts in your lifestyle because of all the money you’re saving.

We included so many tips and products not to overwhelm you, but to help you. There are so many products out there to ease you into a plastic-free lifestyle, and so many people alongside you to cheer you on. We want you to know that while it might be hard to make so many changes at first, it gets easier the less changes you have to make. Every step is worth it, no matter the size.

What is the first product you’re going to buy for your kitchen?!

RESOURCES

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/221205.php

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/cookware-plastics-shoppers-guide-to-food-safety#1

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/cookware-plastics-shoppers-guide-to-food-safety#2

http://www.ecocenter.org/healthy-stuff/reports/vinyl-floor-tiles/flooring_phthalate_hazards

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/plastic-toxins-are-leaching-into-your-food-and-water/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-kaas-boyle/plastic-is-food-poisoning_b_5219189.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/131685-health-effects-plastic-water-bottles/