Eco Home Living

Published on November 1st, 2013 | by Guest Contributor

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How to Create a Healthy Kitchen

Many of us spend at least some of our day in the kitchen making food, eating food and then cleaning up all the messes. At every step of the way we have a chance to make cleaner, greener choices for our bodies and for the planet.

Unfortunately, many types of soaps, cleansers, pots and pans and food storage options bring an array of chemical dangers into our kitchen. The following is a list of some easy tips for how to create a healthy kitchen.

{Want to make more of an impact? Read here about how to make your kitchen super energy efficient!}

1. Cooking Utensils

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bambu organic utensils

The best options for cooking utensils are wood, silicone and metal. As a chef, I like to have a variety of utensils for various things, but if you are just starting out, one of each would be good. Wood is good for all types of pots and pans, as is silicone. Choose wood that is natural (like bamboo) and sealed properly so that it doesn’t stain or get moldy. Silicone is not a natural material, but it’s non-toxic, doesn’t absorb flavors until it’s quite old, and is heat proof. I use these a lot for baking and scraping down my food processor, when wood or metal just wouldn’t work. Bambu makes great, organic bamboo utensils, and my favorite silicone spatulas are actually from Target! Metal is sometimes helpful too, but never use metal on cast iron or non-stick pans, as it can scratch the surface.  no plastic or metal (scratch pans). Silverware, unless you have true silver-ware, high quality stainless steel is the best option.

2. Food Storage

Many kitchens have a vast cabinet full of plastic containers, Tupperware, water jugs and more. Though these food storage containers are reusable, they are also potentially dangerous. Plastic is made from petrochemicals, and most grades of plastic can leech chemicals into our food. Look at the bottoms of your plasticware and find the little recycle symbol with the number in the middle. Many experts recommend disposing of the numbers #1,# 3, #6 and #7. These grades of plastic can leach antimony, phthalates and BPA into food. Number 7 is safe if it’s marked as BPA-free. If you can’t rid yourself of your helpful Tupperware, do be sure to use it safely. Never use your plastic containers in the microwave; even though it says “microwave safe,” this only  means that the plastic won’t be damaged– it doesn’t ensure that chemicals won’t leach into your food. Also, avoid using plastic storage for hot, saucy and liquidy foods. These can absorb the chemicals. Dry foods, like cereals and grains, are less at risk for absorption.

The best option for storage is glass jars or canisters. These can easily be found at thrift stores, or purchased new at most grocery and big box stores for a very minimal cost. These jars will keep for a long time, are water tight, and won’t leech any chemicals into your foods. Cuppow makes a very cool product named BNTO to turn your canning jar into a multi-comparment food container!

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image from Cuppow

3. Water Bottles

Just as your plastic food storage containers can leech chemicals into your food, water bottles also need some careful consideration. Always avoid bottled water (here are 10 reasons to avoid bottled water!) and choose a reusable container made from glass or stainless steel. Both have pros and cons (glass is heavy and prone to breaking, stainless steel can warp or give water a bit of a metallic taste), but as long as you rinse and refill often and use only water in your bottle, it will be another great investment for your home. If you do choose a plastic option, make sure it’s BPA and phalate-free.

4. Pots and Pans

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cast iron pots are my favorite!

Whenever possible, choose pots and pans made from stainless steel, cast iron or enameled cast iron. These are often the easiest to clean, more energy efficient and don’t have the bad reputation of non-stick pans. Cuisinart makes a few non-stick pans that do not use teflon but instead use ceramic to keep food from sticking, and these work great for grilling and pancakes. To be sure, these options are all super pricey, but more than anything else in your kitchen, good quality pots and pans are an investment that can make a big difference for decades to come! Read more about how to cook with cast iron pans here.

5. Soaps and cleansers

Of course you want to keep your home as clean as possible, but you don’t need to use chemicals to do so. Choose biodegradable soaps (Seventh Generation is my favorite for dishes, but Costco makes a great eco-friendly dishsoap too!). Check out this list on Green Business Owner for the best green household goods. Choose brands that use natural scents and have naturally derived ingredients. For a look at ingredients to avoid, Many studies are now determining that soaps need NOT be ‘antibacterial‘ to be effective– and may actually be causing damage to the ecosystem.

6. Cleaning Supplies

Of course we want to keep the germs out of the kitchen, but we don’t need to invite chemicals in to do so. Just as when choosing soap, choose cleaners derived from natural ingredients like Seventh Generation, Method or TerraCycle. TerraCycle makes dozens of household cleaning products made from naturally derived ingredients and packaged in post-consumer recycled materials. If you are feeling ambitious you can also make your own cleaners from things like vinegar, lemon and natural essential oils.

7. Pest control

Certainly you don’t want any excess chemical or hazardous pest control around your food areas. Check out this post on Feel Good Style about non-toxic pest control.

8. Sponges and scrubbies

Not the most fun topic ever, but your sponges touch your dishes everyday, so you might do well to find one that is clean and green. My preferred brand is Scotch-Brite Greener Clean, made from mostly plant-based materials and recycled content. I like them because they work really well, especially compared to some of the other natural brands, which tend to be a bit wimpy! They also make scrubbies for stuck-on things and a dish wand, if you don’t want to ruin your manicure. Read more about the importance of choosing an eco-friendly sponge here.

 

Green Living Ideas would like to thank past sponsors TerraCycle, Cuppow and Bambu. Products were reviewed by editors and all options are our own. But truly, these companies are awesome!

 

 





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is many, many people. We publish a number of guest posts from experts in a large variety of fields. This is our contributor account for those special people. :D



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