When switching out plastic in the kitchen, if it’s not in the budget to replace everything at once, approaching the change-over in stages is a great option. A few places to start are tableware, water bottles, containers for school lunches, and baby bottles, too:
– Dishes: For a busy home, we need sturdy dishes that can go from dishwasher to oven to table. Most of the china in the stores is just that…made in China. In addition to supporting Made in the USA, I also wanted something that’s lead-free. Fiesta Ware is affordable, domestically made, and lead-free. HF Coors is another lead-free option, made right in Arizona.
– Cups/Glassware: In a family kitchen, glasses can break from time to time, so stocking up at a thrift store is an option. And if the kids break one, no problem. (Note: a tile kitchen floor may not be kind to glassware. The more forgiving the floor, the easier it is to keep breakables around). Recycled options are available online at VivaTerra, Bambeco, and at big box retailers such as Pottery Barn. If you’re going for a special occasion, Fire and Light is gift-worthy and made in the USA.
– Food Storage: For keeping bulk items such as rice, oatmeal and snacks, glass storage containers are readily available everywhere from the grocery store to mass retailers. For storing leftovers in the fridge, Pyrex works, as does Fiesta Ware (the plates fit as lids for the bowls).
– School Lunches: Stainless steel lunch containers are a staple, as are glass “cubes” with spill-proof lids. I have one set for each child and can vouch that they’re quick to clean and easy to pack in minutes. Purchasing them is an investment over plastic, but without having to buy any disposable zip-top bags, this route saves money. Our favorites are ECOLunchbox stainless steel containers (from The Container Store) and WeanGreen spill-proof glass cube containers (from Whole Foods). Other options include LunchBots and Planet Box. Bamboo forks and spoons come in kid-friendly sizes but a word of warning: these need to be hand-washed and dried well or they can get moldy from moisture. I keep stainless steel teaspoons on hand and find this a great option, too, instead of plastic spoons.
– Water Bottles: With sports and scout camping trips, there can never be enough of these. It can definitely be an investment when buying enough to keep the kitchen stocked. I’ve found them on sale at outdoor stores and big box retailers. This is another purchase that pays off, because there’s no need to buy juice boxes or bottled water. The stainless steel should be marked 18/8 or 18/10, indicating a good quality bottle. Glass bottles from companies such as LifeFactory are increasingly easy to find, and are practical with a silicone-sleeve.
– Baby Bottles: Nursing is a very healthy option (and ultra-convenient, with nothing to sterilize, mix or buy). When bottles are needed, those labeled BPA-free aren’t necessarily safe. As explained in the last post, bisphenol-A, BPA substitutes, and other chemicals in plastic can all cause endocrine (hormone) disruption and other unhealthy effects.
Glass bottles are free of BPA, BPA-substitutes and other leachable chemicals. There are a range of price-points, starting at about $10 for a 3-pack. National baby retailers sell glass bottles from Avent, Evenflo, and Gerber, along with options that include a silicone sleeve from companies such as Dr. Brown’s, LifeFactory and Green Sprouts. Some larger grocery stores also sell glass bottles in the baby isle.
Sippy Cups: Stainless steel versions are available from companies such as Thermos and Klean Kanteen. Glass options are available from LifeFactory, too.
Labeling lunch containers and water bottles with your child’s name can go a long way towards making sure these re-usables find their way home.