“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
Native American proverb.
Hello, young Padawan
If you’re a little older than me, or not, you probably remember this Jefferson Airplane’s single, but we will not talk about it today, even if we are part of a colorful time.
For the subject of this Thursday, I take the risk of rotting the atmosphere a little (just a little!). This particular topic is just as serious as sex, but with a little fewer hips movements: food plastics and solutions to avoid them as much as possible. Are you ready? Let’s go!
A danger to our environment
The seventh continent. A gathering of plastics in the North Pacific Ocean (but not only), so big that it is the size of a continent. Have you ever heard of it? Yes? But this is not the problem.
Yes it is, of course, but what I mean is that if plastics, no matter what kind they are, remained clustered to form “continents” without ever deteriorating, it would be easy to empty these big boys with the help of large cargo ships to take them to the recycling for example, and in a few years we would end 40 years of fucking bullshit, sorry: mistake. But, as I say again, that’s not the problem, because that’s not the way it is going.
The plastic, be it a bottle, goblet, tray, bag, cap, television frame, computer mouse, your rice package or whatever else, does not decompose, does not stay identical but it divides. In case you need a little explanation, let’s take the example of your sandwich’s packaging. If you throw it in the trash and it inadvertently comes out of the garbage truck because of the wind or something and land into the wild, with time, it will separate into several pieces. First, in large pieces clearly visible to the good soul who could still pick it up to put it back in the circuit of waste treatment, but if not it will then separate into pieces so much smaller than you will need a microscope to be able to see them.
In this aging process, if the pieces of plastic are still “big,” depending on the size of the animal, they can be ingested or not and cause death by suffocation or strangulation (bag handle, for example). If they are smaller, they will clump in the stomach and the animal will die from having too much plastic in his stomach. If they are even smaller, so little that you cannot see them with the naked eye, they take place into the body, for a mysterious journey.
Today, in the body of each living being on earth, human or non-human, there is some plastic microparticles inside us, different depending on the subject but there are some. And we do not have enough perspective today to know the consequences, even if some scientific studies start to emerge.
Let’s end it with a note of lightness; I don’t want you to have a bad weekend: know that in addition to the plastic impact on human and nonhuman animals, there are trees along the roads that are not so happy to be decorated as Christmas trees, in Lady Gaga’s version. #holymackerel
Plastic in the kitchen, a danger to our health
Besides, defiling our oceans, our drinking water, our forests, and our food was not enough: When we use it in the kitchen, it can be harmful depending on the type of plastic and how we use it.
– PET or (polyethylene terephthalate) is mainly used in the manufacture of water bottles, trays, and plastic bags. PET bottles can migrate traces of antimony trioxide. This compound is classified as possibly carcinogenic. It is for this reason that you should never drink bottled water that has been exposed to the sun.
– PP or polypropylene can be found in reusable microwave-heated trays, plastic cups, plastic bottle caps, some water bottles, and cups. It migrates when it’s old, but you have to pay attention.
– Many countries may have banned the use of polycarbonate in the manufacture of baby bottles, but it remains authorized for other packagings (cans, food containers, dishes…).
-And we’re not going to talk about phthalates, BPA (Bisphenol A, more famous than Tom Brady) and other endocrine disruptors that migrate in the food (yummy!). Ok, let’s talk about it anyway: it’s not good for you. Here we are, I think I am clear enough, otherwise, there are scientific studies (by the hundreds) that will explain to you from every conceivable angle this summary that I allowed myself to do in four words.
– Most cheap supermarket silicone molds are made of peroxide silicone. Very easy to recognize, when you pinch them, or you have not used them for a while, a fine white powder forms on the surface. However, this type of silicone migrates into the food when it is in your oven, because of the heat. So now you know where you can put them. Not here, little rascal, use them to make cold preparations or to make candles or homemade soaps. If you were wondering about the price difference between professional silicone molds and those you buy everywhere else, know you have the answer.
Solutions with plastic
We will do it in three simple but effective actions, with a bonus for humanity (and non-human animals who are the first to suffer from our foolishness):
– Never heat the plastic, especially not in the microwave. This one was short but effective.
– Any scratched or damaged plastic box (Tupperware type or other brands) must never contain food again. Recycle them to store your screws, your bolts or your legos.
To use them properly, do not take a metal knife or fork to eat, or abrasive sponge to clean them. Indeed, the mode of use for lunch at work should be as follows: you fill your box when your food is cold to put it in the fridge, then at lunchtime at the office, you empty its contents on a plate to heat it and eat. Is it boring? Yes, I know, there are solutions lower down.
– Unpack all your plastic packaged food to put them in glass jars for example. It is boring? We have the solution down below, but here is a little spoiler: bulk my Padawan, bulk. And cheaper it is if on a budget you are.
– Bonus: SORT waste. Should I spend hours and hours debating the point? I don’t think so.
Solutions without plastic
Sing with me: “The plastic is not fantastic, lover, the glass is much softer.” No, I’m joking. You did it? Do not thank me for putting the Jefferson Airplane’s song in your head for the rest of the day. Don’t worry; you just have to “let it go, let it go.” And now you hate me. I love you too. 😘
– To store food safely in your kitchen cupboard, in the refrigerator or to warm them up: there is the glass of course! And for your beautiful glass jars, you can choose wooden lids, cork (or silicone if you want to have a more waterproof option. I have a single silicone lid to store my vegetable broth for seven years now and it’s still working #awkwardgirl. But if you warm up in the microwave, you remove the lid, obviously.
I have a few glass boxes and jars that I bought from different brands such as Bodum, Weck, Mason Jar, Ball, they are everywhere, or you can shop the flea markets around Detroit for example, there are thousands of mason jars waiting for you to put your rice, your lentils, your pasta (I’m a pastry chef you know, I swag in the kitchen lol, ed.).
– If you want to take away your tea or coffee and keep it warm (or cool), there are the metal mugs, for example, mine is a Bodum and it is great. And if you drink with straws, there are some made of metal or bamboo.
– If you want to keep fresh water at home or to make infusions of fruits, vegetables, and herbs (like lemon cucumber mint water), you can choose a beautiful glass carafe with a large cork. There are lots of them in flea markets.
– To avoid using food film, I use silicone “lids” for my dishes or bowls when my food is cold and ready to store in the refrigerator … and same for my fruits (see photo). So yes, it’s still plastic, but I have some of them for five years now, and they are identical, and since that time I no longer use food film anymore. The “fruit lids” come from Ikea, and those for the plates I don’t remember, but you can find them everywhere on the net. Otherwise, there is the solution of vegan no bee’s wrap. You will find plenty on Etsy.
Fulfill our responsibilities, some ideas
– Buy the less packaged possible and therefore, the more in bulk possible.
– When you buy your groceries, use washable cloth bags to put your fruits, legumes, cereals, seeds, oilseeds… Use large cloth tote bags or your granny’s old wicker basket for your groceries #badass
You wonder where to find those washable cloth bags to put your bulk groceries and veggies? There are plenty of them on Etsy, for example, I use those, from a lovely woman who lives in Canada. Or, you can make one yourself from an old “Slayer” T-shirt (or a “Spongebob” one, I’m not judging, just giggling, ed).
– Buy reusable straws made of metal or bamboo, and keep one at work if you use them regularly. Or in your purse, or your car for example. And when you go get your coffee or tea, take your own container.
– Recycle your waste, sell or give rather than put them in the trash, and of course avoid overconsumption, it goes without saying so let’s say it anyway.
The list is not exhaustive in the kitchen, and there are other rooms in the house, of course. The situation is perhaps critical, but the solutions are there, for you, for me, indeed, but especially for those who will come after us.
We must never forget that these small daily actions, it is not for the planet that we do them. If the human species dies, the Earth will always be there and rebuild itself. See the satellite images of Chernobyl, and you will understand that nature, without human hand and even after a nuclear explosion will always return to the wild. There will always be a bacterium that has survived, a seed that will have been saved by the chance of life.
“The world contains enough for everyone’s needs, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
These small actions, which are imperative for each of us today, we do them for humanity. It’s for you, for me, for us, for tomorrow. So, what do you do in the kitchen, to try to get us out of the deep shit in which we put ourselves into?
With love and hope. 🌎
(*): If you ask yourself what a “gyre” is: An oceanic gyre (from the Greek “rotation”) is a gigantic swirl of oceanic water formed of a set of marine currents. These vortices are caused by the force of Coriolis (Wikipedia). You’re welcome.