If greening up your diet, even step by step and at your own pace seems too overwhelming to start on your overall path to a healthier lifestyle, how about kicking things off with a kitchen makeover (or if you are like me, just a clean-up really)? After all, the container you put your food in matters just as much as the kind of food you put in it. Plus it’s January, no better timing for a quick new year’s healthy start resolution.
Well, about the quick part of it, what seemed like a quick project took me several days to complete and testifies about how sunk into hazardous material, mostly plastic, our daily life is. My goal was to replace all of it with glass, stainless steel and wood. I know not all plastics are (deemed) dangerous but being an adept of the precautionary principle, I am wary of them. Just like one day, wine is said to be good for your health, the next day it is the worst drink you could possibly have. Hence my decision to completely rule it out. After all, there are known safer options. Expensive move? In my case, no cost involved. As I re-discovered all the items living in my kitchen, I realized I pretty much owned both a more dangerous and a healthier versions of everything. If not more. And many of them were collecting dust anyway. So it was more about piling up undesirable objects and de-cluttering than making a “to re-buy” list of things I had just gotten rid of. And I bet I am not alone in that situation!
Some items are easy to replace and rank lower on the replacement list, like my utensils’ plastic drawer organizer (I still have it for now, I will replace it with a bamboo one) since it is not in direct contact with food. It is more about having offgassing plastic in my kitchen, which, don’t get me wrong, is an issue we can deal with, to some extent. Others, like food containers and cookware are somewhat harder to replace but they are also critical pieces that need to be dealt with first hand. Indeed, as they get heated, toxic chemicals (e.g. BPA, used to harden plastics, or Phthalates, used to soften plastics) leach into the food you store or prepare in them.
I started by removing all take-out plastic boxes Green Dad and I kept and used as lunch containers everyday. Some were not even recyclable! I never went the extra step of heating my meal in the microwave at work, but Green Dad did and the thought of it still gives me the chills. All gone and replaced with healthier ceramic or Pyrex glass containers (note: remove the lid when you put it in the microwave). I know, Pyrex production is a polluting one but I already had these so I might as well use them… I also brought back to the front our Corningware glass containers, a wedding gift set we now use everyday as they proved to be both convenient and resistant.
I put aside a big set of pans and saucepans, lined with non-sticky material. Don’t want that in my food! And I brought our stainless steel set back to the front and have been using it ever since. A much healthier option.
I had so many more unreliable items… Exit plastic colanders, measuring cups and spoons, utensils and serving cutlery, beverage containers, everyday glasses, salad bowls, cutting boards, grains and beans storage jars. Exit too aluminum cake molds, containers and storage boxes… All replaced with healthier stainless steel, glass or wood counterparts.
You may think I created a lot of waste? Not one ounce. I either freecycled or recycled all plastic containers and other plastic and aluminum items. I started my own green journey for a healthier lifestyle, but for those who had not and would have bought these items anyway, well I saved them money and got consolation in the fact that I recycled and preserved our landfill. I still wonder how I managed to own so many of one same item at once. Like my 8 cutting boards! 3 were plastic and are gone, but I still have 5, and they serve different purposes (e.g. the one surviving meat-eater of the family has his own, and for the rare pizza, there is a dedicated one too). I guess it was just the opportunity that created the purchase, not so much the need. But I am more aware of these tricks now, and this will never be the same again.
Do you have a lot of plastic items in your kitchen? If so, do you think they could easily be replaced with healthier options?
Would you be willing to change your ways for a greener, safer healthier kitchen in your home?
You may want to pay a visit to Beth Terry’s blog and website. Both are full of tips, insights and good reasons to reduce the amount of plastic in your life. http://myplasticfreelife.com/about-me/