The Best Seven Kitchen Plastic Alternatives for a Better Life

Kitchen Plastic Alternatives | The average American throws away about 185 pounds of plastic each year. That’s a staggering number. And, even more staggering, almost every piece of plastic ever produced still exists in some shape or form. Plastic chemicals are absorbed by your body. Over 90% of Americans test positive for BPA, a plastic chemical. Start by reducing plastic in your kitchen. It might be easier than you think. Try one or two of these kitchen plastic alternatives.

According to EcoWatch statistics, the average American throws away about 185 pounds of plastic each year. That’s a staggering number. And, even more staggering, almost every piece of plastic ever produced still exists in some shape or form. Just in terms of plastic bags alone, about 500 billion are used worldwide which equates to one million bags per minute.

To make matters worse, your body absorbs plastic chemicals. Over 90% of Americans test positive for BPA, a plastic chemical. Some of these chemicals are powerful endocrine disruptors.

So, what can you do? Start by reducing plastic in your kitchen. It might be easier than you think. Try one or two of these kitchen plastic alternatives.

The Best Kitchen Plastic Alternatives


1. The Best Way to Replace Plastic Wrap & Baggies


Finding a replacement for plastic wrap and plastic baggies may seem impossible. But, there really is a way to replace this type of plastic in your kitchen. You’ve probably tried covering a bowl by putting a plate on top or maybe you’ve placed a melon face down on a dish to try to keep it fresh.

Well, you can stop the balancing work.

Try Bee’s Wrap. It’s the perfect way to cover bowls and wrap cheeses, produce, sandwiches and nuts. Really anything. It’s made of organic cotton and bee’s wax.

And, it lasts. Up to one year. Wash it in cool water with mild soap.

Watch this short demo. The wraps are so versatile. The warmth of your hands molds the beeswax to whatever you are wrapping.

Bee’s Wraps come in different sizes – big enough for your favorite loaf of french bread, the perfect size to cover a bowl or the sandwich size.

Bee's Wrap Sandwich Wrap - All Natural WrapBee's Wrap Baguette Wrap - All Natural Wrap

The healthiest way to store food that you might have wrapped in plastic.


2. Ditch Plastic Storage Containers – Glass is Best


If you’re still using plastic storage containers, take a look at your collection. Chances are your stash is a jumble of sizes, some without lids, and some permanently stained by tomato sauce. Yours are probably scratched and some probably sport an oily residue.

Not exactly appetizing, or safe.

So, what do you use instead? Throw those plastic containers in the recycling bin and opt for glass storage containers. You’ll wonder why you ever used plastic.

Glass containers are easier to clean (say goodbye to residue and scratches) and it’s easier to see what’s inside (no more surprises). Storing food in glass and not plastic is much healthier for you and the environment.

Plus, if you microwave food, it’s always safer to microwave in a glass covered with a towel than using plastic. When you heat plastic, it can cause toxins to leach into your food.

Finally, look how neat and tidy these will look in your cabinet. They stack really well.

Use Glass Containers Instead of Plastic for Kitchen Storage


3. Opt for Stainless or Glass Water Bottles Rather than Plastic


Those plastic water bottles sure seemed convenient and smart when you bought them. Now, not so much. You’ve got great options to replace the plastic by either using glass or stainless bottles.

Here’s the one that we like at Pure Living Space. It’s insulated (bet your plastic bottle can’t claim that) and won’t freeze or burn your fingers because it’s double-walled.

It’s also safe. Thinksport water bottles undergo rigorous chemical and biologic testing to insure they do not contain toxic chemicals.

ThinkSport Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle

These bottles have the advantage of lasting forever unlike plastic which should really be discarded once it gets scratched.


4. Plastic Cups, Plates & Plastic Ware – You’ve Got Good Alternatives


You may think that large parties or picnics mean that you must opt for plastic. But, you’ve got other options. You can buy inexpensive plates, glasses, and silverware that can be used for years. After a few uses, your glass and silverware will have paid for itself.

Not only is this cost-effective, it keeps plastic out of the landfill, reduces pollution from plastic production and your guests will appreciate having “real” plates and glasses.

While you’re at it, you might want to also consider buying cloth cocktail napkins too. While these don’t contribute to plastic waste, it will complete your eco-friendly and healthy approach.


5. Banish Plastic Cooking Utensils


So many better options exist for cooking utensils than plastic that it is incredible that manufacturers started making plastic utensils in the first place.

What to use instead of plastic?

Wood spoons and spatulas work great and you won’t have to worry about plastic toxins leaching into your food. Stainless whisks, ladles, serving spoons, and spatulas are perfect and clean up easily. Plus, neither wood or metal will melt if it gets too hot.

Toss your plastic cooking utensils into the recycling bin for better health.


6. Opt for Wood or Glass Cutting Boards, Not Plastic


Wood cutting boards are great options to replace plastic. Think about how gnarly your plastic cutting boards look after a few months of slicing and dicing.

What you may not know is when plastic gets scored, it can release toxins into your food.

Wood holds up much better and is healthier. You can easily sanitize your wood boards by rubbing the surface with a lemon slice. You may also like to use glass cutting boards because you can pop them in the dishwasher.

Opt for Wood Cutting Boards rather than Plastic

Photo Credit: Friedr Dick https://www.flickr.com/photos/dinnerseries/17407215582/in/faves-141143735@N06/


7. What to do about Plastic Grocery Store Produce Bags – You’ve Got Options


Every trip to the grocery store ends up with using a plastic produce bag for each item. It’s easy to pick up 5-10 at each visit–that’s a lot of plastic waste over time. You may have tried not using the bags, but having produce grouped together in a bag just makes things easier.

So, what are your options?

Try these reusable produce bags that will change your life. You can see through the bags, so there’s no mystery about the contents. And, they have a convenient drawstring. The fabric is machine washable and durable. Plus, the fabric has been tested to make sure that it is free of harmful chemicals (no lead, heavy metals, BPA, or phthalates).

You can store your produce in these bags, and they store easily in your larger reusable grocery bags.

Reusable Produce Bags - Save over 1000 plastic bags


What’s your Favorite Kitchen Plastic Alternative?


Please share your favorite kitchen plastic alternative. Which are you already doing or plan to do?

 

12 of the Best Ways to Get a Toxic Free Kitchen

 

12 of the Best Ways to a Toxin-Free Kitchen

Your kitchen is where you prepare healthy meals, so you want it as pristine as possible. And, that means free of toxins.

So, how do you get a toxic free kitchen? Try these 12 ways and get a new perspective on a healthy kitchen.

How to Get a Toxic Free Kitchen


First, you need to know a bit about PFCs to create a toxic-free kitchen. Where do you find PFCs? Think non-stick cookware, water, wrappers, clothing, carpeting, and yes, popcorn bags!?!

  • Poly-fluorochemicals, known as PFCs, are a family of chemicals that are widely used to make water, grease, and stain-repellent coatings. PFCs are used to make the following:
    • Non-stick cookware
    • Fast food wrappers/pizza boxes
    • Microwave popcorn bags
    • Stain resistant carpet coating
    • Stain resistant and water-repellent clothing

Are you surprised by this list? So, basically, anything that is grease, water or stain resistant could have been treated.

  • PFCs are found in water and soil, and in your blood, and some are linked to serious health effects.
  • PFOA is one of the chemicals in the PFC family. It is being phased out this year (2015). PFOA was a key ingredient in the production of Teflon pans.
  • Before you start celebrating the phase-out of PFOA, there is no evidence that chemicals replacing PFOA are any safer according to industry experts.
  • Just one more fact…
  • Is PFOA dangerous? EPA studies say “suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity”. Other studies have shown higher than normal cholesterol levels, thyroid disease, and reduced fertility.

Now that you’ve got the goods on PFCs, you can start learning how to avoid them.


1. Avoid non-stick cookware


You should try to avoid any type of non-stick cookware like pans, pie tins and cupcake tins. And, don’t forget the cookie sheets.

Non-stick cookware can release dangerous fumes if overheated. There’s actually a name for the flu-like symptoms. It’s called Polymer Fume Fever in humans.

Overheated non-stick cookware fumes are sometimes fatal to birds.

It’s unclear if non-stick cookware is a major source of PFC exposure compared to other sources (remember the list above). Some studies suggested that PFC exposure when using non-stick was low while other studies did not.

The lack of clarity around the dangers is kind of frustrating, isn’t it?

Not into risk taking?

Your best bet is to use other options. Try these other great ways to cook without the worry or risk.

  • Stainless Steel (actually better for cooking than non-stick)
  • Cast Iron
  • Ceramic Baking Dishes
  • Glass Baking and Pie Dishes

These alternatives have the added benefit of being long-lasting unlike non-stick pans and trays.


2. Use your cooking vent or air cleaner


Any type of combustion creates fumes. By using your cooking vent, you can remove these from your kitchen and breathe easier.

You may also find it helpful to put your air cleaner/purifier near your kitchen to clean up your air. A good air cleaner can remove cooking odors, smoke and any VOCs created while cooking.


3. Switch from plastic storage containers to glass


Once you switch from plastic storage containers to glass, you’ll wonder why you ever used plastic. You’ll love your glass storage containers.

Glass containers stack, clean up easily and are much healthier than plastic. Just think, no more greasy residue on your containers.

Use Glass Containers Instead of Plastic for Kitchen Storage

Trade in plastic pitchers for glass, and if you use plastic drinking glasses, consider switching to glass.


4. Roast, bake, broil and saute with the right oil


Use refined oils with higher smoke points for medium and high-temperature cooking.

Why?

Because when you use low smoke point oils like extra virgin olive oil for roasting and medium to high heat sauteing, you release harmful fumes.

Want to learn more? Read Cooking Oils 101. It’s got everything you need to know about cooking oils.


5. Make popcorn the old-fashioned way on the stove


Did you notice at the beginning of the article that microwave popcorn bags are coated with PFCs?

Try making popcorn on the stove in a stainless steel pot using a high heat oil like organic safflower or sunflower. You’ll realize that it’s pretty easy, and the popcorn tastes amazing.

After you add real butter, you’ll wonder why you ever ate microwave popcorn.


6. Limit use of take-out/processed food like pizza


Some take-out wrappers are treated with PFCs. While you may not want to alter your take out lifestyle, being aware of the issue is a good start.

It’s all about balance.

Try not store your leftovers in the wrapper or box.


7. Rethink plastic wrap


Rethink your use of plastic wrap by using it less often or not at all. Plastic wrap can be made with PVC or BPA. Neither is good.

Try Bee’s Wraps, an alternative to plastic wrap. Check out the video below to see how they work. You’ll be surprised at how well this plastic wrap alternative works!

baguette 1

Read more about which plastics to avoid.


8. Switch from plastic cutting boards to wood or glass


Using a wood cutting board is a great option to replace plastic. Think about how gnarly your plastic cutting boards look after a few months of slicing and dicing. Wood holds up much better and is healthier.

You can easily sanitize your wood boards by rubbing the surface with a lemon slice or using full strength vinegar.

You may also like to use glass cutting boards because you can clean them in the dishwasher.


9. Try wood or stainless cooking utensils and not plastic


Consider replacing your plastics with wood or stainless for spoons, spatulas, and ladles.

After all, you won’t need your plastic spatula, since you’ll be ditching your non-stick pans, right?


10. Use safe kitchen cleaners and soaps


Kitchen cleaners and soaps may contain harmful ingredients. The Consumer Products Safety Commission regulates these items and has lax guidelines for ingredient disclosure.

Cleaning Products Aren't Tested for Safety

In fact, the guidelines are so lax that manufacturers can disclose all, some or none of the ingredients. So, even if you do a good job of label reading, you could still be using a product that produces harmful fumes.

It’s disturbing, isn’t it?

Learn more about what’s in your cleaners and soaps. Find safer alternatives or make your own.

Shop the Pure Living Space clean and all natural laundry and cleaning products. Highly effective and safe for your family!

 


11. Install a water filter


Are you still drinking unfiltered tap water? If so, you may want to install a water filter.

Your drinking water has PFCs.

And, here’s the kicker.

The EPA does not regulate the amount of PFOA or PFOS (both types of PFCs). A good carbon filter will take care of these contaminants for you.

Click here to check out your options.

The Minimalist Guide to Water Filters is a great resource for anyone looking for a top-notch water filter. It’s a great, simple tool to pick the right type of filter with a short list of the best-rated filters.


12. Don’t use the self-cleaning oven feature


You may think that using the self-cleaning setting on your oven is a great idea because you’re simply heating up the oven and not using any cleaners.

Unfortunately, when your oven reaches over 600 degrees, it can start emitting nasty fumes. These fumes come from your oven’s interior coating off-gassing or residual food burning and releasing carbon monoxide. Neither is good.

While it is well documented that pet birds can succumb to self-cleaning oven fumes, it’s unclear how toxic the fumes are to humans, with the exception of carbon monoxide.

Why risk it?

You know when you use the self-cleaning feature, your house fills with fumes that last for hours. Do you really want to breathe that?

What should you use instead?

Try generously sprinkling baking soda in your oven. Pour white vinegar on top coating the baking soda. Listen for the bubbling sound.

This is the sound of cleaning taking place without any effort on your part. Wait 3-5 hours. Then mop up the vinegar and soda with a towel. You’ll be amazed at the shine.


Just curious…


How many of the 12 best ways were a surprise to you? A few? More?

If so, sign up for Zen of Pure Living 12 Week Email Series. You’ll learn how to create a toxic-free home easily and without the hassle. Subscribers call it a “must read”.  Sign up!

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The Surprising Way to a Clean Oven Without Fumes

The Surprising Way to Clean Your Oven Without Fumes

You may think that using the self-cleaning setting on your oven is a great idea because you’re simply heating up the oven and not using any cleaners.

Unfortunately, when your oven reaches over 600 degrees, it can start emitting nasty fumes. These fumes can be from your oven’s interior coating off-gassing or residual food burning and releasing carbon monoxide. Neither is good.

While it is well documented that pet birds can be killed from self-cleaning oven fumes, it’s unclear how toxic the fumes are to humans, with the exception of carbon monoxide.

Why risk it?

You know when you use the self-cleaning feature, your house fills with fumes that last for hours. Do you really want to breathe that?

What should you do instead?


How to Get a Clean Oven Without Fumes


You can clean your oven easily by following these simple steps. Very little elbow grease is involved, really!

Fill the bottom of your oven with an even layer of baking soda. Pour white vinegar over the baking soda.

You’ll hear bubbling as the soda and vinegar react. This is the sound of cleaning taking place in your oven without any effort from you.

Close the oven door and wait for three to five hours. Wait longer for greasier messes. Then, wipe up the vinegar and soda with an absorbent towel. You might have one or two areas to work on, but it won’t be much.

It’s a bit like magic.

Plus, no awful fumes.


Just Curious


Was this helpful to you?

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How to Avoid the Very Worst Plastics

How to Avoid the Worst Plastics

Do you need a refresher on which plastics to avoid? You know that some are worse than others, but it’s hard to keep it straight, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be great to have a simple list of the worst plastics along with some helpful tips?

Well, it’s here. That simple list of the very worst plastics and ways to avoid them.

The Three Worst Plastics


Avoid Plastic #3 PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride


Check your plastic container. Do you see a #3 or the acronym PVC? Try to avoid this type of plastic.

PVC or vinyl can be rigid or flexible. It is used to make shower curtains, shrink-wrap, deli wrap, plastic toys, and vinyl flooring. PVC has toxic chemicals including phthalates.

So what are phthalates?

Phthalates are a family of chemicals used to soften plastics and other products.

Here’s the problem. Phthalates are toxic and are increasingly linked to brain, behavior changes, cancer and reproductive system harm.

And, phthalates are also linked to asthma.

Enough said.


How to Protect Yourself From #3 Plastic


1. Opt for non-vinyl shower curtains.

2. Remove foods in plastic wrap and place in glass containers to store.

3. Avoid buying plastic toys made with #3 especially ones that children place in their mouths.

4. Purchase safer vinyl flooring or opt for healthier alternatives.  Try bio-based linoleum, natural rubber and ceramic tile.

Read more about toxic vinyl flooring and which brands are healthier.


Avoid Plastic #7


Plastic #7 is really a catch-all. It may contain BPA or BPS. Some manufacturers advertise BPA-free which is better for you, but it’s best to try to avoid these plastics.

Number 7 plastics are rigid and transparent and are commonly used for food storage and water bottles. BPA can migrate from the containers particularly if used for hot foods or liquids.

Why should you care about BPA and BPS?

BPA and BPS pose risks in utero as well as risks to children and adults. Research has linked higher BPA exposure with obesity in adults while another study found that BPA is associated not only with obesity, but also with insulin resistance. And, insulin resistance leads to disease.


How to Protect Yourself From #7 Plastic


1. Discard any plastic container that is scratched or cloudy because the plastics chemicals can leach into your food or drink.

2. Replace with plastic food storage containers with glass. You’ll love the glass containers and wonder why you ever used plastic.

3. Use glass or stainless steel reusable water bottles. If opting for stainless, make sure there is no epoxy lining.

4. Never heat your food in the microwave using plastic containers or plastic wrap. Use glass and cover with a paper towel.


Avoid Plastic #6 Polystyrene


Known as Styrofoam, you’ll find #6 in cups, plastics, take-out containers and more. Styrene can leach into your food. Studies link it to cancer and nervous system damage.

Higher temperatures result in more styrene leaching from the container into your food. Try not to think about those cups of coffee you’ve had in a Styrofoam cup.

It’s a troubling thought, isn’t it?


How to Protect Yourself From #6 Plastic


1. Avoid drinking hot beverages in Styrofoam cups. If your office only offers Styrofoam, then use your own mug.

2. Remove take-out from the plastic containers as soon as you can. Store take-out leftovers in glass containers.


What’s Next?

Now you’re loaded with tips for avoiding the worst plastics. Remember, avoid #3, #6 and #7. 

So, what’s next?

Are you still drinking tap water? or bottled water? Read Seven Undeniably Good Reasons to Drink Filtered Water. It might just change your mind.

Please share and comment.

Sign up for the newsletter! Get the FREE bonus – The Safest Cleaning & Laundry Product Shopping List. Don’t go shopping without it.

 

How to Avoid the Worst Plastics

 

Six Things Cooking Geeks Know About Cooking Oils That You Don’t

Cooking Oils 101

Why is it so confusing to pick the right oil for sauteing, baking or frying? Why is there so little consistency from one source to the next?

There’s so much conflicting advice. Some say to use palm oil while others tout coconut or safflower, and many proclaim the ills of butter. And then there’s the countless smoke point tables, and none match!

You are confused. Heating oil in a frying pan seems fraught with problems, and, of course, everything causes cancer.

But, if you rely on experts who really know their stuff – the real cooking geeks, you’ll be able to saute, bake, broil, braise, fry and roast with confidence.

Here are six things cooking geeks know about cooking oils that you don’t.


1. Cooking geeks understand the difference between Refined and Unrefined Oils  


Refining oil raises its smoke point and lengthens shelf life; it creates a bland flavor and color which is desirable for some dishes.

You may have heard that refined oils are unhealthy. But are they really?

A study that looked at the health benefits of vegetable oils concluded that there was little evidence to suggest that refining adversely affects the health benefits of vegetable oils.[1] The one exception noted by the study was olive oil. The study found that unrefined olive oil had more health benefits than refined olive oil.

So, based on this study, you can feel good about refined oils for high temperature cooking and your health. And you should use unrefined olive oil as a dressing or drizzle while reserving refined olive oil for cooking.

 


2. Cooking geeks know that smoke point tables are wrong 


Yep, that’s right. All those smoke point tables are wrong.

Ignore the hundreds of smoke point tables in cookbooks and online because every oil is different depending on the refinement and cultivation the raw materials. For instance, some extra virgin olive oil makers list their smoke points from 200 to over 400 degrees.[2]  

Trying to assign a single smoke point to oils of different origins is akin to expecting a French chardonnay to taste like a California chardonnay. They aren’t even close!

But, some general guidance will help you.

Oils with high free fatty acids tend to have lower smoke points because the free fatty acids burn easily. Unrefined oils are higher in free fatty acids.

On the other hand, refined oils generally have reduced amounts of free fatty acids and as a result, have higher smoke points.

 


3. Cooking geeks know the ill-effects of oils above smoke point  


The smoke point is the temperature that causes oil to start smoking which produces toxic fumes and harmful free radicals–all things you’re trying to avoid.

If you’ve set off your smoke alarm, you’ve definitely reached the smoke point. Turn up your exhaust fan and open the windows.

By the way, always try to use your exhaust fan since cooking can create some unhealthy fumes, and your place will simply smell better.

 


4. Cooking geeks know the effects of reusing or long heat times on oils  


The longer you heat oil, the more free fatty acids are formed causing the smoke point to drop which is why you want to limit deep fryer oil use to once or twice. Prolonged heating also breaks apart unsaturated fatty acids and produces acrid and toxic compounds.[2]

Neither is desirable.

 

Infographic Cooking Oils 101


5. Cooking geeks know which Oils are high in Omega 3 & Monounsaturated Fats (both good)  


Looking for ways to increase your intake of Omega 3? Try Unrefined Flax Oil (for cold use only) or Hemp Oil.

Here’s your list of the oils with good fats – the monounsaturated oils.

  • Safflower
  • Hazelnut
  • Olive
  • Almond
  • Peanut
  • Pecan
  • Avocado
  • Sunflower
  • Macadamia

 


6. Cooking geeks know the oils best suited for high temperatures and medium temperatures


Here’s the list you’ve been waiting for. The oils to use safely for cooking without the misleading smoke points.

  • High Temperature Oils (searing, browning, roasting, and deep-frying)
    • Almond
    • Avocado (Unrefined/Raw)
    • Sunflower (High Oleic Refined)
    • Olive oil (Refined or “Light”)
    • Hazelnut (Refined)
    • Tea Seed (do not confuse with Tea Tree)
    • Apricot Kernel (Refined)
    • Safflower (Refined)
  • Medium Temperature Oils (sauteing, baking, oven cooking or stir frying)
    • Macadamia
    • Canola (Organic)
    • Peanut
    • Coconut (Unrefined good for baking) avoid Hydrogenated

So where does extra virgin olive oil fall on the list?

You can lightly saute in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but your best bet is to save the good stuff for dressings, dipping and drizzles.

 


So, who are these cooking geeks that you can trust?

  • A Chemistry Professor who wrote “What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained” (seems knowledgeable right?)
  • The Author of The Cooking for Engineers website and about 100 of his contributors (engineers analyze the heck out of everything)
  • The Executive Chef from Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute along with several dietitians (he should know what he’s talking about)
  • A Researcher from the Center for Advanced Nutrition Study – Utah State (this guy conducted a large study of vegetable oils)
  • A Registered Dietitian – Eatingrules.com (this guy has an MS and RD and writes about food for a living)

 


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Match Your Cooking Oil to Your Cooking Temperature

Sources:

1. Health Effects of Commonly Used Vegetable Oils by Michael Lefevre, Center for Advanced Nutrition Utah State University

2. Where There’s Smoke, There’s a Fryer: The Washington Post by Robert L. Wolke Professor Emeritus of Chemistry University of Pittsburgh and author of “What Einstein Told His Cook”

3. Heart Healthy Cooking: Oils 101: Health Hub Cleveland Clinic by James D. Perko, CEC, AAC, Executive Chef for Cleveland Clinic

4. The Cooking Oil Comparison Chart by EatingRules.com and Andy Bellatti, MS, RD,

5. CookingForEngineers.com: Smoke points of various fats and general discussion