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If you’ve been on the Internet lately, you already know that everything is going to kill you — the aluminum in your deodorant, gel manicures, sitting at your desk (or as this Forbes article calls it, “the new smoking“) — but nothing will kill you more than all the evil plastic in your kitchen.
I’m kidding of course, but there’s a growing awareness that plastic containers can release chemicals into the things we store in them; it’s why you shouldn’t microwave food in plastic or leave it out in the sun. Even if you choose BPA-free options, there are studies showing that all kinds of plastic can leach hormones like estrogen.
The fact is, our plastic problem is all around us — it’s part of what recently led Starbucks to announce plans to ban plastic straws in its stores by 2020. “Not using a straw is the best thing we can do for the environment,” said Colleen Chapman, vice-president of Starbucks’ global social impact in a recent statement.
This is why I’ve been making a concentrated effort to find non-plastic swaps starting right in our home — especially in the kitchen — and here’s the best part: I actually love a lot of the new products I’ve found. In most cases, they’re way better than the cheap plastic stuff I was using before, plus better for the environment. Total win-win!
1. Stasher Bags
Let’s start with the absolute best thing on this list, because these are my favorite and I cannot stop raving. I got these silicone Stasher Bags as a swap for plastic sandwich baggies and now I use them for EVERYTHING. I use them when I travel to hold toiletries, for snack and lunch packing, and even organizing (the pouches are see-through so I can easily find what I need if I stick a bunch in a drawer or bin). They’re made from heavy duty material, go right into the dishwasher for cleaning, and come in a few different sizes.
We went on a full-scale Pyrex swap in my kitchen about a year ago and it made me so happy that this Father’s Day, I bought my dad a complete set to replace his sad cabinet of Tupperware lids. It’s so much more durable than cheap plastic containers and I hated the way they would get goo on the bottom after a few uses. You can put Pyrex in the oven, the microwave, you name it, and I use the different colored lids as part of a rotating leftover system so we know which food is oldest. Did I mention I’m a real treat to live with? My husband is very lucky.
3. Reusable Water Bottles
OK, so this isn’t a super ground-breaking idea, but I really love my glass water bottle from Life Factory and I felt it was necessary to include on the list. The silicone sleeve keeps it from breaking and it’s super cute. Also, I just heard Life Factory started making baby bottle versions which I will definitely be checking out.
4. Glass Baby Bottles
I don’t have personal experience with these bad boys yet (I’ll give you an update in November!) but I asked my new mom friends for their best recommendations and these were the clear favorites. One drawback: I suspect glass baby bottles are heavier to lug around in your diaper bag, but my crunchy granola friends all swear by them and their biceps look great.
5. Glass Sippy Cups
Same as the bottles, I haven’t personally tried these yet but the moms I asked said they’re great. They do have a plastic outer coating to keep your kid from smashing it into a million pieces, but the spout is silicone, so no plastic will come in contact with what they drink.
6. Beaba Babycook + Glass and Silicone Storage Containers
We’re planning to make our own baby food because we are those people, and (prepare yourself for a shameless name drop) our friend Eva Amurri Martino recommended the Beaba Babycook system. It’s pretty great for steaming and pureeing big batches of fruits and veggies, and best of all, they also sell glass and silicone storage containers.
7. Stainless Steel Drinking Straws
So you want to save the sea turtles, but you still love straws? No sweat. These reusable stainless steel straws are great for guilt-free sipping and honestly, they make my drinks feel colder. (I know that’s probably just in my head, but whatever. I’ll take what I can get since we live in LA and it was literally 114 degrees last week.) Americans apparently use 500 million straws every day, which is a crazy amount of trash — now scientists can make it 499 million, thank you very much.
8. Salad Dressing and Condiment Containers
“I love soggy salad” said no one ever. On very ambitious days, I remember to bring my lunch to work and I use these dip containers from PlanetBox for salad dressing, condiments, peanut butter, you name it. They are so convenient and have silicone lids to keep things from spilling or sloshing out.
9. Reusable Shopping Bag
We live in Los Angeles where most grocery stores charge for plastic bags, so I was doubly motivated to switch over to canvas shopping totes. I used to have a stash of those big blue IKEA bags in my trunk but honestly, a cute one makes all the difference. I felt like such a fancy lady when I upgraded and now I smugly parade around buying organic produce and putting it in my trendy and eco-friendly accessory.
10. Bee’s Wrap
OK full disclosure, my husband hates our Bee’s Wrap and refuses to use it, but as I’ve told him roughly a hundred times, he’s just doing it wrong. The wrap replaces plastic wrap or tin foil, but you really do have to warm it with your hands to make it adhere to the sides of containers, otherwise you end up with it just sitting on top like a little tent. If you are rushing or lazy (cough, cough Dennis), it’s not going to work right. But if you are a careful and patient kitchen goddess like moi, it’s awesome.
11. Wean Green Snack Containers
These are pretty self-explanatory but they’re good for snacks and great quality for the price. I also use them to assist with portion control as I’ve been known to eat an entire box of Cheddar Bunnies in one sitting.
12. Lunchbots Containers
I also tried the PlanetBox lunchbox and liked it, but ultimately my heart is with my LunchBot because it’s smaller and less awkward to stick in a tote or backpack. I’m a simple girl with simple needs and the dual compartments are perfect: sandwich on one side, snack on the other. Easy peasy, and easily stackable in our fridge for those magical moments when I actually manage to make lunch the night before.