Yes, you read that right. Plastic keeps my kitchen from looking suitably retro-Victorian for my taste, and so it has to go. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what that says about me as a human being.
But what should be used instead? I honestly started out having no clue...my entire life disposable plastic has been a standby in the kitchen. Many switches though are simple and easy...and are part of a scheduled overhaul in my kitchen.
Instead of plastic shopping bags:
Buy some reusable bags or baskets. I got some three years ago and while they've lost the flat bit for the bottom, otherwise they're still going strong. Because they're sturdier, the ones that are about the same size as plastic bags actually hold three plastic bags worth of groceries. The only real difficulty is making sure they make it to the store.
Or, better yet, sew your own bags. If you have old denim or odds and ends of fabric you love, this is a simple way to use them, even if you don't have the most sewing experience. I've even seen totes made out of items that would otherwise be thrown away, like crocheted grocery bags or sewn together juice pouches.
Instead of plastic containers for leftovers:
|They even come in smoothie size.|
If you have small children like I do, camp plates are also your friend. They've been a staple in European nurseries for ages for a reason.
Instead of Sandwich Bags:
When packing lunches, there are a number of nice reusable lunch containers on the market. I confess, I like brown paper bags best. They can be recycled, I won't cry if they're lost or tossed instead, and they make great craft projects and incubators for pies. As for what goes in the bag, our great grandparents would have wrapped their sandwich in wax paper. That applies to other kitchen items, too...Alton Brown swears by storing cheese in waxed paper in the fridge. That way the live bacteria can still breathe.
Glass or metal kitchen canisters have a great vintage look, and make it easier to buy in bulk. If you can't find a good set, you can get a plain glass or ceramic set and add pretty decals. I'm looking forward to an eventual new set, since mine are pretty hand me downs, but have seen better days.
|Labels at The Project Girl|
There are also some ideas that can cut back on messy things headed for the trash(making it less likely you'll need plastic liners to stay sane). For example, it is simple and easy to build a compost heap if you're lucky enough to have land. By putting your biodegradable kitchen refuse (but not animal parts like bones) in a crock that gets dumped on the compost pile, you cut down on your trash, and add a lot of nutrition to the heap. Even better if it's vegetables that were used for stock, since those are already partially broken-down! Victorian kitchens also often had specialized crocks for things like a sourdough start, pickles, and sauerkraut...all of which do best at cool, but non refrigerated conditions due to their live cultures.
One other potential problem area is plastic wrap, which I personally use everywhere. Julie, at Towards Sustainability has written a great article on that issue, pointing to baking paper, foil, and cellophane as alternatives.
Anyone else have other ideas to throw my way?