Tag Archives: grocery shopping

How to Use Less Plastic in Your Kitchen

There are many good reasons to use less plastic in your life. It comes from petroleum, a limited resource. Plastic itself is not good for the environment, and does not degrade well. Some types have BPA, which is a potential endocrine disruptor.

Yet it makes many appearances in most kitchens. How do you avoid it?

At the Grocery Store

When you’re buying food at the grocery store you’re likely to see quite a bit of plastic being used. Wouldn’t you like to avoid it?

In the meat department, rather than buying prepackaged meats you can go to the butcher counter and get the amount you want wrapped in butcher paper in many stores. Some will still use plastic bags to help prevent dripping with certain meats.

When selecting fresh produce, your best bet is to bring your own bags. You can buy inexpensive reusable bags made from lightweight materials very easily. Some even have their tare weight on a tag so the clerk can subtract that from your total.

Milk and juice often come in plastic bottles, but you have options. You can often find them in paper cartons, and sometimes even in glass bottles.

I’m not even going to get into bottled water here. There’s rarely a good reason to buy bottled water from the grocery store. Fill up a reusable bottle at home, using a filter if you really feel the need.

Food Storage

You don’t need to store your food in plastic containers either. Before plastic got so popular, glass containers were used. You can still buy them new or find them at thrift stores, garage sales and so forth.

The main risk with glass is of course that it will be dropped and broken. You do need to be a little careful. But it’s not at bad as you may think. Most glass storage containers are made with fairly thick, good quality glass. They’re not made to break all that easily.

If you’re preparing snacks or meals for on the go, have reusable supplies ready. A good quality lunch bag, small reusable cloth bags, drink bottles and stainless steel containers can all help you to avoid plastic use when you’re taking food with you.

Heating Food in the Microwave

It’s just a habit for many people to use plastic in the microwave. Plastic doesn’t get so darn hot as glass or other containers in the microwave.

The trouble is that heating plastic leads to leeching of BPA and such if present.

Once again, think about your glass containers. Check to be sure they’re microwave safe first, and use a hot pad to take your food out of the microwave.

You don’t need to cover food with plastic wrap to prevent splatters either. An appropriately sized plate on top will do the job quite nicely. You could also use a lid from a plastic container if you like, so long as it’s not touching the food.

Grocery Stores and Organic Food

CNN has an interesting story up right now on America’s healthiest grocery stores. As they say, some stores on the list you’d expect to see, but others are quite surprising.

Whole Foods is #1 one on the list, which should surprise no one. They’re not a store I go to often, as they are about a half hour to 45 minute drive away. However, Henry’s is local to me and now owned by Whole Foods. They’re a lot smaller at each location, but a similar kind of store with local, organic and conventionally grown produce.

Many of the stores are relatively regional, so you won’t find the entire list in your area. Others are ones you wouldn’t expect to find on this kind of list, such as Safeway. They’re a big company, and may have different names in other areas. I don’t know how the different names impact what they do with organic and other healthy produce.

This list really shows just how mainstream the availability of organic produce has become. You’ll still pay a premium for organic produce, as a rule, but you can find it just about anywhere.

You have a lot of options beyond grocery stores in many areas. Local Harvest is a great place to look for food coops and CSAs in your area.