We cook with healthy organic ingredients whenever we can, but what about our kitchen gadgets? Simple green changes can remove toxins from our kitchen.
It may come as no surprise that nonstick coatings are found on pots and pans; however, you may not know that nonstick coatings also line the insides of microwave popcorn bags.
By 2015 DuPont has agreed to phase out the use and production of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a processing aid in the production of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), found in the nonstick coating of popcorn bags, but PFCs abound in cookware.
Used to make nonstick coatings, these chemicals have been shown to adversely affect the liver and the immune and reproductive systems in animal studies. Recently, they have also been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.
What to do: Choose tried-and-true cast iron or stainless steel cookware, and use a hot air popper for popcorn—it’s healthier and more fun!
Many food storage containers contain bisphenol A (BPA)—a substance that the Canadian government recently labelled as toxic. BPA, a known endocrine disruptor, is suspected to increase the risk of breast cancer, and is shown to be toxic to placental cells. More than 90 percent of the population has measurable BPA levels.
BPA is found in hard, clear polycarbonate (#7) plastics such as water bottles. It’s also used in the lining of most cans.
What to do: Choose glass or stainless steel rather than plastic whenever possible, and if that’s not an option, choose safer plastic options (see sidebar, next page). When choosing canned goods, look for “BPA-free” labels.
This kitchen staple is coated with paraffin wax, a petroleum byproduct and nonrenewable resource.
What to do: Check out a specialty kitchen store or your local natural health store and look for natural wax paper made from soy, a renewable resource.
Commercial cotton farming uses pesticides that not only harm the environment but also subject farmers (who often lack the necessary safety equipment) to a higher risk of developing acute and chronic illnesses. Organic cotton farming improves the lives of farmers, uses less water, and has been shown to produce higher yields and income.
What to do: Choose organic cotton linens, which are available in an extensive array of colours and designs at linen stores.
Wooden cutting boards and utensils
When insufficiently regulated, the forestry industry can cause environmental destruction such as loss of wildlife habitat and landslides. Canadian logging practices in areas currently receiving a negative buzz include Ontario’s boreal forest and BC’s Great Bear Rainforest.
What to do: Look for utensils and cutting boards made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood. FSC certification ensures sustainable logging practices, with an additional focus on indigenous people’s rights and workers’ rights.
Out and about
Choose eco-friendly habits when you’re out of the kitchen too by choosing environmentally responsible options in restaurants and cafés.
Restaurants are happy to use your glass food containers to pack leftovers, but don’t stop there. Use your own metal and glass drinking straws, stainless steel water bottles and mugs, organic cotton food wraps, and stainless steel cutlery.
3 steps to eco-friendly dishwashing
- Don’t run the dishwasher if it isn’t full. You can also stop before the load is done and prop the door open after the final rinse cycle to air dry the dishes.
- Use natural detergent—avoid sulphates, colours, and artificial fragrances. If the ingredients aren’t listed on the package, don’t buy it!
- Swap your disposable sponges and plastic scrubbers for organic cloths (see “Cotton linens” section).
Plastics: the good, the bad, and the ugly
|This plastic is used for disposable containers. Never wash and reuse #1 plastic, as it can leach chemicals.||This reusable plastic is often found in food packaging. Along with #2, it’s considered one of the safest options.|
|Considered one of the safest options for plastic, #2 plastic can be reused.||Widely known as Styrofoam, #6 plastic leaches toxins and should never be used. Beware of #6 plastics that don’t look like foam, such as the lids of single-use coffee cups.|
|Used in some food wraps and packaging, #3 plastic is harmful to human health and can leach toxins.||This category includes, but is not limited to, BPA. Do not reuse these plastics.|
|Used for a variety of food packaging, #4 plastic is considered reusable and safer than many plastics but not quite as safe as #2 or #5.|