5 Steps to a Healthier and More Eco-Friendly Kitchen

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The kitchen is a great place to begin taking baby steps to create a more eco-friendly, non-toxic home. I always pictured my kids helping in the kitchen, and visiting as they color, and they do (on my island.) Knowing we spend most of our day gathered there, it is evident that it is where I can make the biggest impact in their health. By making healthy meals, using safer cleaning products, and foregoing paper and plastic dinnerware, small changes day after day will contribute to our family's health and our environment. Here are five swaps you can make to create a healthier, greener kitchen.

Cloth Napkins

Cloth Napkins

To save a few trees (a lot of trees) and your conscience, replace conventional paper towels with cloth napkins. "Every day, over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced in the US alone. To make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed." (Lynn Hasselberger, 2015). It isn't a terrible idea to keep a roll of paper towels out of sight for cleaning up puke or glittler. Which is worse, really? For those occasions choose 100 percent recycled, totally chlorine free (TCF) paper towels. 

Unbleached Parchment Paper

Unbleached Parchment Paper

 Another way to limit chemicals in your kitchen is by replacing bleached parchment paper and baking cups with unbleached, chlorine-free parchment paper and unbleached, chlorine-free baking cups

Non-Toxic Cookware

Non-Toxic Cookware Le Creuset

Teflon-coated and stainless steel have been found to leach harmful chemicals into your food and therefore, your body. Replace scratched and worn Teflon-coated cookware to reduce your exposure to toxins. Opt for a good quality cast iron, enameled cast iron, or ceramic cookware. I cook with Lodge Cast Iron (occasionally) and the Le Creuset 9.5 quart oval dutch oven and Le Creuset 5 quart brasier several times a week. You may not need ones this big, but I wanted ours to fit our family for years to come. According to I read labels for you, "their enameled cast products are tested to California Proposition 65 standards for lead and cadmium and are found to be in compliance.  The California Proposition 65 test is the most stringent test available to consumers." 

Glass Storage

Phase out plastic storage containers and replace them with glass. Studies show that even BPA-free containers may be contaminating our food and drinks with estrogen-like chemicals. These Glasslock storage containers do have plastic lids, but they lock well. When we replaced our plastic storage containers with these almost nine years ago, I was afraid I would be replacing them regularly with little ones, but we haven't broken one yet. I find great deals on these at places like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls as well. Tip: Use these Inchbug labels to make sure your containers make their way home. 

Bees Wrap

Bees Wrap  

Bees Wrap is a newcomer to the zero-waste movement and is a great alternative to plastic/saran/cling wrap. Plastic wrap is unable to be recycled due to its chemical make up and "every year, Americans make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas." Northern Colorado Disposal, Inc. Bees Wrap is made from organic cotton, bees wax, jojoba oil and tree resin. It is reusable, washable and compostable. It will not create the perfectly tight seal you are accustomed to with plastic wrap, but it works really well for covering left overs and wrapping fruits and vegetables.

Keep in mind, that when you are working to make healthier, non-toxic trades in your home and in your life to not become overwhelmed. Think baby steps. It may be helpful to choose one item or small area each month to tackle and adjust to before moving on to the next. Which eco-friendly or non-toxic kitchen items are some of your favorites?

Hassleberger, L. 2015, January 6th.13 Facts about Home Paper Products that May Inspire You to Hug a Tree. Retrieved from https://www.drgreene.com/perspectives/13-facts-about-home-paper-products-that-may-inspire-you-to-hug-a-tree/
Hamilton, J. 2011, March 2nd. Study: Most plastics leak hormone-like chemicals. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2011/03/02/134196209/study-most-plastics-leach-hormone-like-chemicals
Irina 2017, November 7th. The Skinny about Safe Cookware. Retrieved from https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/skinny-safe-cookware/ 
Northern Colorado Disposal, Inc. Waste Production Facts. Retreived from https://www.northerncoloradodisposal.com/facts/

13 comments (Add your own)

1 Jeanna - Sat, August 4, 2018 @ 8:51 AM

LOVE!!!! I am needing to replace my cookware and was wondering what to pick. If you have a link for a skillet pass it along and I’ll use it. You are doing a great job friend and I love following you for ideas.
Stephanie - Sat, August 4, 2018 @ 10:12 AM
Thank you, friend! I have mostly been using their braiser in place of a skillet. I like that it is nice and deep. I use the lodge cast iron every once in awhile. I have gotten great deals on them at the Le Creuset outlet in Oklahoma City! Watch for their sales.
Stephanie - Mon, August 6, 2018 @ 10:00 PM
Jeanna, I read last night from Natural Baby Mama that Lodge Cast Iron uses GMO soybean oil to season their pans. I just wanted to share if that is a concern for you
2 Crystal - Sat, August 4, 2018 @ 2:57 PM

Great post! I had no idea about stainless steel leaching chemicals!! Is this just when it’s heated?
Stephanie - Mon, August 6, 2018 @ 9:55 PM
I didn’t either! I haven’t used ours in quite some time, mostly because the Le Creuset is too heavy to move 😊, but Natural Baby Mama shares a great post about having her pots tested. She mentioned most stainless steel pans have an aluminum core. https://thenaturalbabymama.com/your-home/kitchen/cookware/leach-testing-cookware-heavy-metals/
3 Dixie - Tue, August 7, 2018 @ 11:02 AM

Great ideas Stephanie! I had no idea I could now find an alternative to plastic wrap! Also, do you make your own napkins and paper towels? Do you have a secret to getting the stains out when you wash them? Looking forward to following you!! :)
Stephanie - Tue, August 7, 2018 @ 2:27 PM
Yes! The Bees Wrap is great! It comes in several sizes and works quite well! I find most of our napkins on clearance at Target and Walmart and stock up. They last several years and we do not have a lot of trouble with stains. I use a Norwex paste and a toothbrush every once in a while on tough ones. For paper towels, we just use dish cloths. We have a large stack in the drawer and use one or two a day. Thank you for reading, Dixie!
4 Abbey - Wed, August 8, 2018 @ 10:28 PM

Oh man! I had no idea that stainless could leach metals! How do you find out when Le Crucet has sales?
Stephanie - Mon, August 13, 2018 @ 10:31 AM
Hi, Abbey! Our local Le Creuset is having a summer clearance right now. Some of their colors test more safely than others. The brighter colors (red and orange) show trace amounts of lead on the outside of the cookware.
5 Sarah - Mon, August 13, 2018 @ 1:22 PM

After looking at the testing from Natural Baby Mama page you linked, the stainless steel didn't seem to be that bad. The value for aluminum was actually the lowest. Am I missing something?
Stephanie - Sun, August 19, 2018 @ 6:17 AM
You're right. In that test, it is better than the Le Creuset colors she had tested. This is also one of the links I shared discussing nickel leaching in stainless steel cookware: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1514841. Here is another great article about stainless steel that talks about heavy metal leaching and recommends which stainless series are the safest for those that prefer stainless.
Sarah - Wed, August 22, 2018 @ 6:57 PM
Must have missed that link, I'll check it out.

So you would still use Le Creuset over SS?
Stephanie - Sun, September 23, 2018 @ 3:29 PM
Yes, I still prefer the lighter colors of the Le Creuset of the stainless steel. My understanding is that the darker Le Creuset finishes (like red) are not as safe as the lighter colors and that most stainless steel has an aluminum core that may leach through the steel.

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