There is a special drawer in my kitchen that most visitors don’t get to see. It’s jam-packed (and I mean jam-packed) with cooking tools. Do you have a drawer like this? If your drawer is anything like mine it might be time for an overhaul. Over the years I’ve been replacing the not so eco friendly utensils with greener choices. But before dumping your entire drawer in the trash and running out to buy new- remember the greenest thing you can do is use what you have and replace the old only when needed.
Steps to overhaul your cooking utensil drawer
Step One: Go through the drawer and take inventory- see what you really need/use.
Step Two: Get rid of the extras.
• If you decide to replace or weed out some of your cooking utensils-don’t toss the old into the trash.
• Find out if your city or town take plastic utensils for recycling.
• You can also keep them around for craft projects, imaginative play for kids and mixing henna hair dye (my favorite for my old wooden spoons).
Step Three: Replace utensils that are broken or made of toxic materials.
Ready to replace?
Here is your go-to guide for eco friendly cooking tools
Stainless steel cooking tools are made from a mixture of several different metals, including nickel, chromium and molybdenum, all of which can trickle into foods. Leaching will happen only if your stainless steel utensils are dinged and the amount of leaching would be small. Note: if you have a nickel sensitivity, exposure to stainless steel could cause redness, itching or slight swelling. STAINLESS STEEL: THUMBS UP
Wooden cooking utensils are a staple in my kitchen. Many are made from sustainable sources. They don’t transfer heat and are durable, lasting for many years. If you have any non-stick pots and pans left after reading my article on Choosing Healthy Pots and Pans, wooden utensils won’t cause scratching on non-stick coatings. The bad news-as with wooden cutting boards, they can also harbor germs. WOOD: DEPENDS ON THE TYPE OF WOOD AND HOW WELL THEY ARE CLEANED-THUMBS SIDEWAYS
Bamboo is a great green alternative to other woods. It is a renewable resource, capable of regenerating without replanting and it also has amazing anti-bacterial properties! Bamboo absorbs very little moisture and therefore does not shrink or swell. It makes an excellent choice for cutting boards and kitchen utensils. BAMBOO: THUMBS UP
Silicon is inexpensive, colorful, non-stick and just plain cool looking. But what about its safety? Some claim that silicone does off-gas, and raise concerns that additives may include petroleum or other harmful ingredients. Others claim that there are no known health hazards. I say err on the side of caution. SILICON: THUMBS DOWN
Photo used under Creative Commons from Carly Watson
Plastic and food just don’t belong together. There are so many toxic chemicals in plastic that can leach into your food. The production of plastic is hurting our environment. Plastic ends up in our water ways and landfills, killing wildlife and not decomposing. If you still don’t believe that plastic is toxic to you and to the environment check out Beth Terry’s wonderful site, My Plastic Free Life. PLASTIC: THUMBS DOWN
Teflon cooking tools are coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE). According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), toxic fumes from the Teflon releases when exposed to excessive heat and could kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms. TEFLON: THUMBS DOWN
When it comes to changing around your cooking tools remember:
• Think recycle and re-purpose before tossing
• Replace only when needed
Looking to replace your pots and pans? Check out my post on How to Choose Healthy Pots and Pans.
Do you have any cooking tool suggestions?
*Top photo used under Creative Commons from Alan Levine