Do you ever think about all the plastic in your kitchen?
When you put the leftover supper into the fridge last night, you most likely reached for a plastic Tupperware from one of your cabinets. The soft drink cup with a straw you got at the drive through is plastic. So is the water bottle on your desk. And what about all those zip lock bags you go through every week?
We all have our conveniences, don’t we?
I decided to replace plastic in my kitchen when I first learned about its detrimental effects on our health. I re-purposed as many things as I could and recycled the rest. While I didn’t want to waste what I already had, I eventually decided that eating from any kind of plastic was not worth the health risks.
The small chemicals that plastic containers release into stored foods and liquids are toxic. When you ingest these toxins, they damage your body on a cellular level, altering your chromosomes in ways that can lead to infertility, obesity, heart disease and cancer. For women, estrogenic mimicking chemicals can cause breast cancer; for men, these chemicals cause prostrate cancer, reduced penis and testicle size and low testosterone. (1, 2) These threats are not hypothetical. They have been proven in the lab and demonstrated in real world studies.
My (Nearly) Plastic-Free Kitchen
I say “nearly” because I refuse to give up my Vitamix blender and Breville food processor, which do come with plastic containers. I also shop in a bulk store which doesn’t allow customers to bring their own containers. So, I put the food into the plastic bags they provide. (I do transfer the food into mason jars when I get home, but the food still comes into contact with plastic).
So, what does my kitchen look like?
I use cast-iron and stainless steel instead of non-stick cookware and bakeware (yes, non-stick coating is plastic!). All my dishes and storage containers are ceramic or glass. My utensils drawer contains only stainless-steel. I pack lunches into stainless-steel Bento boxes. Our entire family drinks from glass water bottles with silicone sleeves. Leftovers go into my glass containers with glass lids.
I had been pretty successful at finding convenient alternatives for just about everything. But there was one item I couldn’t run from – resealable plastic zip lock bags. As someone who cooks every night of the week, I have plenty of leftovers: a half onion here, a quarter of an avocado and lime there. All of that had to go somewhere. Sure, I could have been more mindful and stored these in my plethora of glass storage containers, but I more often than not reached for my trusty zip locks. I also travel often and I like to pack my superfoods and vitamins into a few as well. My daughter’s snacks for play-dates? You guessed it, zip lock bags all the way.
Anyway, you get the gist and either relate to me or are seriously judging me right now. I finally came to terms with the fact that it was a huge problem when a study came out that there is no such a thing as safe plastic (not even when it’s BPA-free!). After years of research that linked BPA (bisphenol A) to cancers, endocrine and metabolic disorders, and birth defects (3), many manufacturers stopped using BPA. However, in its place they started using BPS (bisphenol S), which has similar affects on health to BPA. (4) Even worse, heating up food in plastic containers and plastic bags amplifies the detrimental effects of plastic 55 times! (5)
Enter the food-grade silicone reusable bags.
Reusable Silicone Food Bags
Reusable silicone food bags are a great eco-friendly alternative to plastic food bags. I have been using them for months now and my zip lock habit is no longer filling the landfill. Better yet, because these bags are made from food grade silicone (no petroleum, PVC, latex, fillers, or any other poisonous chemicals!), I don’t ever have to worry about plastic leaching into my food.
I use these bags for cooking sous vide, steaming veggies, warming up leftovers in the oven, freezing produce, storing food in the fridge, taking snacks on the go, etc. The hermetic seal provides an air-tight and leak-proof vacuum. So, I often store soup and sauces in these bags as well. They are also dishwasher safe, which makes cleaning them a breeze.
Since the silicone bags are reusable, they are saving you money in the long run. No need to be constantly buying new plastic bags.
So, I’m going to say it: If I can turn my bad baggie habit around, I believe you can too if you’re as afflicted as I was. Give these bags a try, let me know how it goes, and please share any other reusable products that have changed the way you live in the comments below!