We’ve covered many aspects of ridding your home of toxic chemicals that may be lurking in everything from household cleaners to cosmetics. But we haven’t yet tackled the kitchen, until now. Considering that the foods we prepare and store end up in our bodies, the kitchen is ripe with “greening” potential.
Just follow these five tips:
1. Select fresh, whole foods low in chemicals and additives.
From the farm to the market, foods can become contaminated with substances you don’t want to ingest. To cut your family’s risk, buy local, organic produce and meats whenever you can. Doing so will limit your exposure pesticides, antibiotics and hormones and save energy.
If you’re on a budget and can’t always choose organic, use EWG’s guides to shopping for produce: “The Dirty Dozen” lists the produce that contains the most pesticides and worth the extra dollars spent for organic. On the other hand, it’s OK to buy conventionally grown fruits and veggies on the “Clean Fifteen” as they tend to have fewer pesticides.
Choosing fresh foods over canned or frozen is another way to cut down on chemicals, reduce waste in landfills and save energy. Food packaging can leach harmful chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) into foods. BPA is used in the linings of canned foods and some plastic containers. Go with glass or paper packaging if you purchase processed foods. Both are recyclable and sustainable. When plastic containers just can’t be avoided, consider recycling them.
2. Use non-toxic cookware and utensils.
Use stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic or oven-safe glass cookware and utensils. Avoid non-stick cookware as it can release harmful gasses if exposed to high heat.
3. Serve, store and reheat safely.
Avoid plastic dishes and cups, especially for hot items and make sure dishes are lead free by purchasing a test kit from your local hardware store. Store leftovers—especially warm foods—in glass containers. Avoid plastic containers altogether if possible.
When reheating foods in the microwave, use only microwave safe glass or ceramic containers.
4. Skip disposables.
Avoid one-use plastic plates and containers whenever possible. Chemicals in plastics can leach into warm foods and unless recycled, these items accumulate in landfills.
5. Recycle and compost.
If you follow the suggestions above, you will significantly reduce the amount of garbage produced in the kitchen and what is left—paper and glass—is recyclable. Composting is another way to reduce waste in our landfills and provide chemical-free fertilizer for your lawn or garden.
With the holiday season upon us, you might want to try some of these ideas for Greening up your Holidays.
Environmental Working Group