Zero Waste Living for you and your family

How to Green your Kitchen

How to Green your Kitchen

We are not talking about painting your kitchen green, unless of course that's your thing. Then by all means paint away. 

We are talking about choosing greener and safer products for your kitchen. Many kitchens are filled with plastic containers, teflon covered pans and plastic packaging. 

Greening your kitchen doesn't have to cost you huge amounts of money and can be done over time. You can start by making small changes. The great part about green products is that they are typically built to last. So while the initial investment is more up front, your item will last for years to come. Stainless steel will last you a lifetime as will glass, ceramic and wood! Plastic and silicone have a tendency to break down more quickly which will cost you money over time.

First thing you will need to do is an inventory. If you are a list and chart person then here is a great way to do your inventory. You can also just look at your items and make an overall assessment by removing or separating more toxic options.

Take a look at all the items in your kitchen and mark them down in a notebook or on a sheet of paper. Next, look at your items and rate them based on the frequency you use them. 0 = never, 5 = daily. Lastly, look through your list and put a X beside all plastic items, all disposable/one time use items, and all items that are NOT glass, wood, stainless steel or cast iron (these are the safe materials we want to be using). At the end of the day you want the majority of your kitchen utensils and tools to be made with stainless steel, cast iron, glass or wood.

From this point, you will want to go through your list and find all the items that are rated a 5 and have an X beside them. These are items that should be of the most concern for you. You use them daily and they are made with a toxic or unsafe material. These are your top priority items to replace.

 Item Frequency of use 0-5
Pan 2 X (teflon)
Tupperware 4 X (plastic)
Water Bottle 5 Stainless


Remember to take things slow as to not feel overwhelmed. Less and better quality is always the way to go. One step, one item at time. It is not affordable or sane to go through your home and throw everything out and buy all new items. It also makes sense to wait until the items break down, stop working or become damaged before replacing.

Now that you have completed your assessment, follow the below recommendations for replacing your utensils and tools:

- Check your local second hand shops or head over to a reputable kitchen shop. You wouldn't believe how many quality, green and safe items show up. Most kitchen shops have high quality and safe brands since these are the products that chefs want most.

- Plastic containers and utensils are a source of concern for many eco conscious families. We do not use plastic in our home and choose either stainless steel, glass or wood. I typically prefer stainless steel over glass as it is less likely to break; however, it can be difficult to remember to eat foods or leftovers when stored in stainless steel since you can't see the inside.

- If you are using ziplock bags everyday, consider investing in reusable snack bags or stainless steel containers. These will cost you little and will improve your footprint almost immediately (plus you will be saving money long term!). 

- Use your non stick or Teflon™ coated frying pan everyday? Consider searching for a greener option at your second hand shop or invest in a good quality one at a fair price. Check out your local restaurant supply store as they often have quality items at good prices. We have saved our money over time for cast iron and stainless steel pots. Stainless steel, cast iron or enamel cast iron are all safer options than conventional Teflon™. Check out this article from Emma at Green at Home about cookware.

- Are you bringing your lunch to work everyday in a plastic container? Invest in a stainless lunch container such as the Lunchbots Cinco and never look back. This container will last you your life and you will only ever need one. Your cupboards will thank you for the extra space. These are also handy for your kids. Each of my kids takes one of these to school every day (and have done so for over 3 years now) along with either a sandwich bag or insulated container.

- Do you use paper towels and napkins with your meals? Consider using reusable napkins and cloths for all your cleaning needs. We have not bought a roll of paper towels in over 8 years! We use only reusbale napkins, towels and cloths in our kitchen and home. Most of my cloths and towels were found at second hand shops for a fraction of the cost of new ones. We sort and store them in separate baskets - cloths, drying towels and napkins. 



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