Let’s talk about alternatives to plastic, particularly concerning consumables. But before we get into it, why should you care? Well, for starters, it negatively affects our environment. Our planet is littered with toxic plastic waste that never fully decomposes. This is so because plastic is photo-degradable, not biodegradable, which means that it breaks down into increasingly smaller bits over it’s nauseatingly long life cycle instead of fully decomposing and replenishing the soil like potato skins or a an apple would, for example. So basically, plastic never goes away. “Wait, I have a solution! What if we recycle it?” Unfortunately, plastic has embarrassingly poor recycling gains due to its chemical make up which only allows for it to be recycled once…
Okay, okay, so it’s bad for the environment, but what about for us? According to a study done in 2004, the United States Center for Disease Control concluded that 93% of the participants, age six and above, had traces of bisphenol A (BPA) in their urine! BPA is an endocrine disruptor that was once commonly used in the production of most hard plastics – baby bottles, reusable water bottles, food containers, etc. It has been linked to problems in brain development including neurobehavioral cases like ADHD and autism. It has also been know to mess with the way our reproductive system functions while also increasing our likelihood of getting prostate or breast cancer. Yikes… While BPA isn’t used as much nowadays, it’s replacements BPS and BPF are not quieting any critics. Word on the street is that both mimic the same symptoms as BPA. Just do a simple google search on “BPA replacement” and you’ll see what I mean… The point I’m trying to make is that plastic is packed full of chemicals that pose dangers we don’t quite fully understand. It has no business being near our food!
Okay, so you get the gist of it, plastic is very devastating to not only our environment, but our bodies too. And now for the question of the hour, what can we do to avoid it? Have no fear, The Sustainable Guy is here! I don’t foresee any Marvel movies featuring me any time soon. Jokes aside, here are a few simple yet effective alternatives you can adopt to eliminate many of the plastics in your life.
- Reusable bags: Use them to bag your fruits and veggies, nuts, bread and other “dry” items you can find in bulk at your local supermarket or on the farmers market. Carry one around with you in your pocket, handbag, or backpack for added preparation when hunger strikes. If you can’t find reusable bags in a store near you, check out ecobags.com or make your own to meet your preferred size specifications! We’ve made most of our bags using a cotton bedsheet we found at our local secondhand store. You could even use an old shirt if you have one lying around. It’s all about being creative and resourceful!
- Glass Jars: Glass jars are really awesome and super useful. Use them instead of plastic wrap or sealable plastic bags to store a plethora of things like dried goods, sauces, grains and virtually any delicious eats you cook up. Airtight glass jars keep your food fresh, save you money in the long run and look great in your home. You might even take a jar or two to your local butcher and ask them to put the meat directly inside to avoid the plastic packaging. They might not always agree, but most times they do. Why not take some jars to your local tea or coffee vendor while you’re at it too! You can usually find airtight glass jars at secondhand stores, arts and craft shops, or kitchen supply stores. If you find a jar that doesn’t have a rubber gasket, don’t worry, you can always buy it separately.
- Stainless Steel Water Bottle: Unlike plastic water bottles, stainless steel bottles won’t leech chemicals into your water and due to the anti-corrosive properties that stainless steel possesses, the bottles can last a lifetime. Make sure to get a good quality bottle – preferably one that is 304 grade 18/8 stainless. This is one of the most common types of stainless steel on the market so it’s fairly easy to find. We have both a Klean Kanteen (kleankanteen.com) and a Made Sustained (www.madesustained.com) bottle.
- Stainless Steel Lunch Box Set: Having a stainless steel lunch box set can add so much versatility to your kit. Use it to transport your warm or cool meal, store leftovers, heat your food up in the oven, or even as an emergency mirror to check if you have food in your teeth before an important meeting. You can also use it as a portable plate/bowl when you go out to food truck festivals. As with the butcher, not all vendors might be on board, but I’m sure you can nudge them in the right direction. I have a lunch box from EcoLunchBox (ecolunchboxes.com) and I’m super happy with it.
- Wooden Cooking Utensils: In general, it’s always recommended to use wooden utensils when cooking as it’s an inert material that won’t change the flavor of your foods. Certain foods (normally of acidic nature) have been known to react negatively with metal and foods cooked under high heat might melt the plastic. Not only are they more sustainable, but wooden cooking utensils also add a touch of charm to your kitchen and are really durable and comfortable to use. If you want your wooden cooking utensils to last, I recommend oiling them with bees wax every so often.
I hope that you find these alternatives to be helpful in saying adios to some of the plastics in your life. That said, keep in mind that sustainability is all about creativity and trying new stuff so turn your mind loose and have fun with it!
Sustainable travels everyone!
Until next time, The Sustainable Guy out.
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/