Plastic Free July Kitchen
Sustainable Living

Plastic Free Kitchen

As a write this I am watching “A Plastic Ocean” and continue to be saddened by what our practices with respect to plastic have done (and continue to do) to our oceans. I attempted to find statistics regarding specific plastics used in the kitchen but it was difficult to narrow down data for the items listed below. Plastic bottles, straws, cups, toothbrushes have been well documented but there are insidious bits of plastic that we use daily in our kitchens that can be easily identified and replaced with plastic-free alternatives! This is by no means a complete list, but somewhere to start. Please feel free to add to the discussion in the comments or on our social media pages!

Food Storage

I have used various food storage methods over the years, much of it plastic: tupperware, ziploc bags, cling wrap, recycled yogurt containers and a few glass containers. I’ve recently watched documentaries and read books that have reinforced the potential negative consequences for our health of having our food constantly in contact with some form of plastic**. This plastic not only impacts our health through direct contact with our food but goes on to harm the environment after disposal. There are many options for plastic-free storage, read on to find out!

Changes I’ve Made

I’ve recently invested in more glass containers and beeswax wraps in order to eliminate my reliance on plastic for food storage.

Glass containers ($$$): I made use of a coupon and a gift card to splurge on some glass containers that can go from freezer to refrigerator to oven. These are quite thick glass so if you have a few in your lunch bag it can start to get heavy fast! And, of course, they can break if dropped however I love how they stack in the fridge and freezer.

Beeswax food wrap ($$): Do you have a particular food that you find you buy and then end up throwing at least some of it out? I hate to say it but I have a few: bean sprouts, cilantro, fresh herbs. They always seem to go bad before I can use them and I gave up buying them because they’re expensive and that makes wasting food, already a terrible practice, even worse.

I moved away from using much cling wrap some years ago but still had a couple of things I would use it for but cringe every time. Cue beeswax wraps! Beeswax wraps are made of natural ingredients such as cotton cloth and beeswax. We have tried to make our own, but failed at it! Our challenge was getting the right balance of ingredients and have since left it to the experts!

Our favourite go-to (and local!) brand for food wraps is Abeego. I discovered them at a local market too many years ago to remember and have loved them since! Abeego food wraps are all natural and allow for breathability while still providing a protective layer. Because of this Abeego food wraps are able to extend the life of bean sprouts or greens. Abeego gifted us a variety of sizes to try out and we’ve got some tips in our stories on how to fold them for to-go snack pouches! Check them out on our Instagram.

Other Sustainable Options

1) Upcycled glass jars ($): I’ve been saving my glass pasta jars for all of the tomato sauce I hope to make from my garden this year! Alison loves to use glass jars for freezing leftovers, portions of big soup batches, and her broth made from veggie scraps.
2) Metal bowls with covers ($$): like these!*

Dish Soap

I hadn’t considered that there may be a better, non-plastic way to obtain dish soap until reviewing the Fulfill Shoppe list of products and saw Make Nice Company’s Kitchen Kit. As mentioned in previous posts my focus in past years has been more around the contents of the products around my house but I hadn’t given a lot of thought to the packaging they were in.

Changes I’ve Made

When I considered that I go through one or two bottles of dish soap in a month, then consider that each of the 12 million or so households in Canada are doing the same, it’s clear that we’re using a lot of plastic for a product that is easily switched!

I’m using up the dish soap that I’ve already purchased but have also been testing out the dish soap block and loving it so far!

Other Sustainable Options

1) Making your own dish soap and refilling old container ($): I did attempt this but didn’t like the recipe I used – if you have a good one let me know!
2) Concentrated refills ($$): I’ve been wanting to try this one out but haven’t yet
3) Refills ($$$): Find a local refillery and purchase dish soap in your own containers.

Dish Scrubber

In the past I’ve used plastic sponges with a scrubber side, scouring pads, a silicone scrubber, and a plastic scrubber than had soap in it and had replaceable plastic sponge. Eventually I gave up on scrubbers and just used a cloth and baking powder to scour the toughest messes on my pots and pans.

Changes I’ve Made

I recently purchased the Make Nice Company Kitchen Kit which included a scrubber made of agave plant bristles and beechwood and metal handle and I have to say I’m enjoying having a scrubber again!

Other Sustainable Options

1) Luffa, coconut or walnut scrubber ($$): Some examples here*
2) Silicone scrubber ($$): Like this * one!
3) Cotton cloth and baking soda ($): enough said!

Dish Cloths

Once upon a time I used J-cloths which I would use and then throw out when they began to fray and get holes.

Changes I’ve Made

Some time ago I made the switch to handmade cotton cloths as I found that they cleaned better due to having more texture. However, another nice thing about these cloths is that they are compostable as they’re 100% cotton. They’re also quite cost effective to make as cotton yarn is inexpensive and a cloth doesn’t require much of it.

Other Sustainable Options

1) Swedish dish cloths ($$): these are made of cellulose so compost once you’re done with them!
2) Cut up old towels ($): Old cotton towels cut into squares make a great dish cloth! No need to finish the edges but if you’re good with a sewing machine you could add edging or zigzag the edge.

What plastic-free swaps have you made in your kitchen?

**References:
1) https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/cookware-plastics-shoppers-guide-to-food-safety#1
2) https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/28/plastics-toxic-america-chemicals-packaging
3) https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/is-plastic-a-threat-to-your-health

18 Comments

  • Castlesandturrets

    Yes! This is such an important post and it’s great that you are bringing awareness for this. It’s a shame that so much rubbish/plastic is just thrown out and is damaging to this world. Things which people can easily avoid using – it’s just a simple switch that people need to do. Like for me, I don’t use plastic bags, and I actually make use of old towels for things like cloths! Great post, hopefully this helps brings awareness to more people of how easy it is to do the right thing for this world x

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Reusing and repurposing thing is the best! Towels and sheets works great for cloths. That’s awesome you do that! Every little bit really does make a big impact on helping our environment.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  • Chloe

    These are great alternatives. I’ve been looking at swaps I can make in my house so that I’m reducing my plastic waste and there are some great options here. Thank you for sharing these!

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      That’s awesome you’ve been looking at reducing your plastic too! Glad there were some helpful ideas here for you. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  • Thecaskconnoisseur

    Love what you have posted here and hopefully it will make people realise how important it is to save our environment, I have tonnes of items around the house which if they are broken or ripped, I can use them for another necessity, everyone should always remember the drill which is to reduce, reuse and recycle. This is a fantastic post and will make people understand the importance of our planet! 😁

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Thanks for sharing your experience! It really does make a difference to look at belongings with an eye to reuse and repurpose. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      That’s awesome! So cool you’re looking to reduce your plastic use too! Glad there were some useful thoughts here for you. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  • Jaya Avendel

    This is an awesome list! I love the small changes you have been making because it is true that so much plastic sneaks in on things we do not realize. We love our glass containers, and I love the idea of metal bowls with covers. 🙂

  • glowsteady

    This was such a helpful guide. I’m really trying to reduce the plastic in my kitchen and always keep my jars etc for future uses and I’ve been slowly replacing my tupperware but this has given me some great ideas for a few other ways to cut back x

    Sophie

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      I love hearing that others are reducing their plastic too! Glad this post was helpful for you. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  • Money Millenified

    You make some great suggestions in this post! I think that just “knowing about” some alternatives to plastic is half of the battle because often, I don’t want to take the time to be creative. This post was very helpful for that!

    We just bought a pack of silicone food huggers and can’t wait to put them to use so that we can cut out cling wrap!

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      I can definitely relate to that! I feel like a lot of plastic that is still in my life is there because of convenience. I’m glad you found the suggestions helpful! I hope your silicone food huggers work well for you! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  • Lisa's Notebook

    Some great suggestions here, thank you. I do try and recycle our glass jars and any plastic containers we use again for home made ice cream or freezing fruit. One trick I have found is using a sponge inside the plastic fruit string bag, it makes a great scourer! Lisa

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      I’d never heard of using one of those string bags as a scourer before. That’s such a great idea! I love hearing unique ways to reuse/repurpose things. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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