A Kitchen Without Plastic

The latest buzz topic on the environmental scene is how to eliminate plastic from our earth.  Honestly, I have been worried about this for many years and about 7, or 8 years ago, I decided that I was going to try to eliminate plastic from my life.  Well…good luck with that.  I realized that I could not even get out of bed without touching something made of plastic.

:::sigh:::

That has not discouraged me though to try to get rid of some of it.  Here are some of my “recipes” for getting plastic out of my kitchen and home:

Fridge, or freezer:

First, I’ll try to put the item in the fridge, or freezer without any covering at all, (eg: Baked squash goes straight into the freezer, skin and all, same with bananas.)  If that Isn’t practical, I’ll try to use a plate, or pot lid to cover the item.  If I need a different container (smaller one that fits in the fridge,) I’ll first go with a ceramic, or glass container, then I’ll go to a paper bag, or compostable, soy waxed paper covering, then go to my recycled, veggy bags, and finally, if all else fails, I’ll very reluctantly use a new, plastic bag.  I used to use zippies every day and buy a box 2x/month, now it’s once a year, if that.

Dry goods:

I’ve invested in mason jars, large gallon jars, various gasket sealing jars from thrift stores, etc.  I used to bring home everything in plastic bags augh!  Now I take my jars to the co-op and go to the bulk foods section to fill them up. I have pre-weighed the jars so that the cashier knows the tare wt. and I bring a sharpie with me to label each jar.  I still buy some things in packaging (more plastic,) but I’m slowly changing over to as much bulk items as possible.

Liquids:

I save bottles.  I know, I sound like a crazy, cheap, old lady, but they do come in handy.  I have to be careful not to over save…then it becomes hoarding and there’s just no room in my cabinets for that.Like I said, I also have a stash of mason jars of all sizes.  Put it in a jar!

Other Coverings:

Plastic wrap irritates the hell out of me!  Just one use and POOF, it’s in the landfill!  I try now to cover my bread dough, marinating foods, etc. with a cloth towel instead of a sheet of plastic wrap.  I’m also getting into eco-friendly, compostable, soy-waxed paper.  I occasionally use parchment paper, but really, I don’t always NEED it and am learning to be more economical with it.  Aluminum foil is something that creeps into my kitchen drawer around the holiday season.  It sits there for several years, taking up precious space in my small kitchen.  (Obviously, I need to “gift” it to someone.)

Soap Containers:

This year, for 2020, I’m changing over to bulk soaps, shampoos and detergents.  I saved a couple of appropriate, plastic containers and labeled them with the tare wt. and fluid oz.  They’re good for the shower area.  I also have a glass, pump bottle for the dish soap by the sink.

Cooking Utensils and Methods:

I like cooking with all metal pots, pans and utensils.  Wooden spoons are nice too.  (I’ll admit, I do have some silicon spatulas that I’m not willing to give up just yet.)  I have a beautiful collection of Pyrex dishes, casseroles, bowls and stackable, storage pieces that I love.  They have been around since the 1930s and still going strong.  I refuse to buy any plastic bowls, storage containers, plastic handled cookware, or even measuring spoons.

Dishtowels and rags:

No more paper towels, no more polyester dishrags, or towels, no more plastic sponges, or scrubbys!  For dishtowels and rags, I cut up our old clothes and make rags out of them.  I’ve done that for years.  I love our big, colorful basket of rags on our table…so pretty!  There are some fabrics in the rags that are not made of all-natural fibers, but at least I’m delaying their trip to the landfill by a few more years. I recently got rid of the last, synthetic sponge at my sink.  It never worked very well anyway and always harbored lots of germs.  I use a metal scrubby that’s easier to keep clean and lasts a pretty long time before I have to buy a new one.

Foods from the garden:

Last season I bought some lightweight, wooden baskets for storing and harvesting.  My hubby still uses his plastic baskets, but I’m slowly trying to get rid of those and replace them with my biodegradable, wooden containers.  I have some small, handled baskets that hold about 1-2 gallons of produce and some larger, 2-bushel baskets.  Both are made from thin, pine slats that are woven into shape.  They’ve just gone through their second season and are still holding up well.

I also love a metal bucket.  I used to have one, but it got lifted when I brought some plants to a charity gardening event.  I’ll have to invest in another one…or two.  My hubby loves those plastic ones, but I’m hoping that I can convert him.

Trash and Compost:

Several years ago, I finally broke down and bought a garbage bin with a foot pedal that is used to open it up.  What a Godsend!  Now, when I have any food, or veggy scraps in my hands, I just turn around and step on the pedal and drop it all in the bin.  Not much goes down my garbage disposal anymore.  As for trash, I’m now changing over to biodegradable trash bags that I’ve recently purchased from greenpaperproducts.com.

Plastic still lives in my kitchen:

The coffee maker is made of plastic.  We do have a nice, ceramic, 1-cup, drip funnel, but frankly, it’s a hassle, since between my hubby and I, we can easily go through a whole pot of coffee each morning, so we live with the coffee maker.  (At least it was bought used from the thrift store.)  We also have an espresso machine, which uses plastic pods.  I absolutely love espresso, so I’m looking into refillable pods.  To be honest, the small amount of pods that we collect is miniscule in relation to the other plastic issues in the typical kitchen.  However, after they’re used, I do open them up and scrape out the coffee and recycle the hard plastic that’s left.

There are some other appliances that are also made of plastic such as the food processor, ice cream maker and popcorn maker.  However, we have some vintage appliances that are mostly metal, ceramic and glass such as our Oster Blender and Oster juicer.  Our large juicer is also mostly metal.

I do try to look for items that have less plastic on them, but it’s hard.  Some of my baking pans have a non-stick surface…a form of plastic.  There are still some plastic-handled utensils, a couple of plastic to-go containers from the grocery store that I try to reuse as many times as possible and plastic packaging and labeling that I can’t seem to avoid not matter how hard I try.  I think that we should all boycott plastic packaging and labels.  I also have a pure distain for those pesky, little, plastic stickers that they put on produce.

 Next year’s goals:

There’s still more that I can do.I want to completely eliminate plastic bags and wraps.  I can sew up some soy-waxed, veggy bags and colorful, bowl covers to replace them.  I can also buy compostable baggies to use at home, or just save the ones from the grocery store after they’ve been used.  The entire interior of my refrigerator is made of plastic and I guess I’ll have to live with that, but, I can change out the ice cube trays and storage bin to metal.  I already reuse spice jars, but they do have plastic tops.  I can’t change those, but I can put corks in the glass jars and bottles that I save, which lends to a very, natural décor in my kitchen.  I’m tempted to buy a pack of eco-friendly, recycled paper to-go boxes for those times when I have to send food home with friends and family.  I’m also planning to make some protective cozies for my bulk foods jars, so that they are less likely to break in transit.

If I didn’t already have 2, large vegetable gardens and an orchard, I’d shop at the farmer’s market, where you bring your own bags and containers.  Speaking of shopping bags, mine are made of plastic, so I will be sewing and decorating my own, cotton ones this year.

When an item has lived out its purpose at my house, I will promise to recycle it in some way…take it to the thrift store, re-purpose it for some other use, etc.  My goal this year is to cut our trash down by half.

I will continue to vote with my dollars at the grocery stores. If it’s covered in plastic, I refuse to buy it, or at least buy less of it. I suppose that I could write letters to the food companies too.

I hope that others who read this post will take this matter seriously and try to eliminate the plastic from their homes.  One less plastic item bought, one less plastic item left in the landfills and oceans.  If you have any tips on how to eliminate plastic from our lives, please send me your comments.

~ C

PS: I just realized that I’m typing this on a plastic keyboard.  We will conquer this problem, one step at a time.

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