TODAY'S GREEN MANTRA: I won't store my sustainable food in unsustainable things
Day 65 / 365 ... only 300 more posts to go!
The guestpost Elizabeth did at the start of this kitchen focused theme got us started on how to store our food properly to make it last longer and avoid impacting the environment. This link she shared from Kitchn about how to store your produce to elongate its life is super informative and worth a read (click here)
I'm going to jump right into this story because it is a long one and important one to understand. Especially if you're someone who cooks for many, stores their food, works outside of the home, or sends their kids to school with packed lunches or packed snacks for the park.
[SARAN WRAP / CLING FILM / ZIP LOCK BAGS]
These are one of the worst guys in your kitchen roster as it’s all made of plastic and plastic is the worst.
The mining, transporting and distilling of crude oil for the manufacture of plastic products takes its toll on the soil, water and air of our planet, polluting it in just about every way possible. Plastic wrap is made form polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) and/or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is produced with the use of crude oil (petroleum .. like the stuff you put in your car).
These chemicals are not only dangerously poisonous during production, use and incineration, they also cause huge harms to the environment. (read more here)
PVDC and PVC are rigid by nature so to create cling film manufactures need to add softening chemicals called phthalates, (the same thing they put in your soaps, water bottles and detergents), which are known to cause hormonal disruption and developmental problems in both adults and children.
Most plastic wraps are not recyclable and end up in the landfill or incinerator. In the landfill the toxins from the plastics leach into the soil and water disrupting the ecosystem and wildlife. When burnt, poisonous gases are released into the air.
[SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS ]
1. BEE'S WRAP
[WAX PAPER / PARCHMENT PAPER]
Parchment paper has been used for centuries and thus it can be made from natural materials. The main material used in this paper is wood pulp, which for the most part comes from sustainable and renewable forests; however, cutting down and processing trees does come at cost to the environment as trees take hundreds of years to regrow, and significant water and energy is used in paper production. To top it off, the processed paper which is eventually going to make its way to your kitchen is then chlorine bleached, which causes harm to the environment and your health, as does the paraffin wax which is added to it.
Using a brand that uses vegetable waxes or soybean wax instead of paraffin and don’t bleach their paper significantly reduces the impact your wax paper makes.
Luckily, wax paper can be reused and is biodegradable as well, so it won’t live a long life in the landfill and can break down in under 90 days in your backyard compost.
*(made with soybean wax, fsc certified and chlorine free)
2. BEE'S WRAP
[ALUMINIUM FOIL / TIN FOIL]
From wrapping up leftovers to sandwich covers, aluminium foil is a versatile part of our lives.
Unfortunately, aluminium foil is made from virgin materials which have a devastating impact on the environment. The raw material which creates aluminium is bauxite ore which is mined through open mining practices which are amongst the most harmful practices for the environment and humanity as a whole. Once the raw materials have been mined, a shit ton of additional fossil fuels are used in the transport and ore refinement. Then comes the production side, which like most things eats up energy and water.
Once aluminium foil is in existence it takes decades to degrade. It is said that foil lives at least 400 years before breaking down. Yup, that bit of shiny paper you used to cover tonight's lasagne will outlive even your great grand children. Even if it ends up in the incinerator, the toxic metals and gasses it is made up of are released into the atmosphere.
The only responsible way to dispose of aluminium is to recycle it as once it is in existence it can be recycled endlessly, and the only green way to use it is to reuse it.
So, you’re probably best to try to separate yourself by trying some other options (like the ones listed below). If you must use aluminium foil, use one which is made out of recycled aluminium so you’re not adding to environmental impacts as you go. Recycling of foil products uses only 5% of theoriginal energy spent on production of the virgin material.
- SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS –
I’ve written about plastic numerous times on this blog, the environmental effects of its production does horrific things to the environment and wildlife and it doesn’t really matter what type of plastic you’re using, even the recycled stuff hurts us.
There are a ton of different types of plastic, only three of which (to date) have been proven to contain chemicals that leach into your food and cause cancers. If you must use plastic food storage (which I don’t recommend) you should check the bottom of the container to make sure the number 2, 4, or 5 are listed. If another number is there, then it contains BPAs or other harmful chemicals which will cause you and your children a hole host of health pains (read more about them here).
Even once plastics have reaped hell on the environment and your health, they're not even easy to recycle. First of all, because each type of plastic requires a different type of recycling not all recycling centres even take all plastics. Second, even if it makes it to the recycling, the recycling process itself releases toxins and chemicals into the air. Third, it never biodegrades. It just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces and finds itself in the stomachs of wildlife and fish slowly suffocating them to death and causing huge issues with our biosphere.
We have enough plastic on this earth already. In fact we have 5 gyres of it in our oceans. We don’t need new plastic to be produced.
It is important each of us do our part to vote AGAINST plastic with our dollar. Each time you find yourself with an item made of plastic in your hand, remind yourself it will outlive you and your grandchildren and your grandchildren’s grandchildren and then their children to. And then decide if you'd like your offspring to live in a world drowning in plastic's and toxicities, and if not, put the damn thing down and walk away.
There are a shit ton of options for you to choose from otherwise, so make a smarter choice. If you can read this, you can do it!
- SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS -