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Category: Sustainability

6 Sustainable Tips for Outdoor Camping Ecoluxe

6 Sustainable Tips for Outdoor Camping That Make a Positive Impact

Camping is a favorite pastime activity for many families and friends. We are fortunate to live in a country and continent where we have free access to managed parks and campgrounds that offer clean, basic amenities that make camping our experience more enjoyable. Camping is an opportunity to connect with nature, unwind and create lasting summer time memories with your loved ones. However, as a beneficiary to the beauty that nature has to offer, we must be mindful of the effect and impact that our actions and behavior will have on the environment. Here are 6 quick but practical tips on sustainable camping

1. Select a designated campsite: By choosing a designated and established campsite, you prevent disturbing wildlife and an ecosystem of a new area. Some campers are driven by the excitement of pitching a tent in the untouched wilderness but doing so will impact wildlife habitat, destroy vegetation and cause soil erosion; not to mention, it can likely put you in danger if there are unfriendly creatures like bears, coyotes and snakes that live in that environment.

Find parks in the region you want to visit and sign up for camping sites. Public parks tend to have lower camping fees but are very competitive to secure because they are offered on a first come, first serve basis. 

2. Pack Light and Minimize Waste: Remember that bears are attracted to trash. Pack light and minimize the waste you produce. Plan your meals well to minimize food waste and bring reusable or compostable containers for packing leftovers. 

Consider bringing reusable and refillable products like bamboo utensils, cloth napkins, refillable thermos or bottles and washable dinnerware to reduce overall waste footprint. Avoid single use plastics and excess packaging that harm the environment. Remember to carry out what you brought in.

6 Sustainable Tips for Outdoor Camping

3. Minimize Campfire impact: With more frequent wildfires destroying our forests, many public parks have banned the use of open fire for cooking. It may have been part of your camping tradition, but forest fires whether due to climate change or not has forced us to modify our behavior. Now, more than ever, we must be good citizens and abide by the restrictions imposed to prevent fire hazard.

Use only camp stoves for cooking instead of building a fire to cook. Use propane or butane powered BBQ grills and cook stoves instead of charcoal based grills with hot embers that can burn for hours and potentially cause a fire if airborne. 

4. Use Sustainable Camping Gear: Invest in sustainable, durable camping gear made of eco-friendly materials. Tents, sleeping bags and camping furniture made of recycled materials is a choice in the right direction. To learn more about sustainable textiles and brands that offer ecofriendly outdoor products for camping, click here

Consider solar powered lighting and cookers that leverage renewable energy resources rather than using batteries or petroleum based propane or butane for cooking or lighting.

5. Choose Non-plastic Personal Care Products: Plastics are everywhere and it is likely in your toiletry bag. Plastic toothbrushes, nylon floss, plastic combs and containers. Though durable, cheap and conveniently available in many stores, plastics are non-biodegradable and harmful to the environment.

Replace your plastic based personal care essentials with eco friendly ones made of bamboo such as toothbrushes, combs and personal care containers that leave no negative impact on the environment. If you haven’t already made the switch consider it now and don’t throw away plastics while on the campground.

6 Sustainable Tips for Outdoor Camping Ecoluxe

]6. Use Water Efficiently: Rather than bringing case loads of bottled water that will only leave plastic waste, consider using a portable water filtration system that will allow you to purify water as you need it.

Here are some suggestions for conserving water: 

  • take shorter showers in the evening after the end of day
  • use a dish tub to soak dishes before rinsing off
  • don’t flush your toilet unnecessarily
  • use a hand sanitizer instead of washing your hands with water each time.
  • bring enough clothes to reduce the need to wash 

Sustainable camping takes conscious effort and responsible decision making. As we indulge in the joy of camping, we need to remember our role as custodians of the environment. We are fortunate to have access to public parks and campgrounds that give us the opportunity to connect with nature and create cherished memories with our loved ones but we need to be mindful of our impact. These six practical tips for sustainable camping carves a path towards more responsible exploration. By selecting established sites, minimizing waste, adhering to fire regulations, embracing eco-friendly gear made of sustainable materials, choosing non-plastic biodegradable personal care products, and conserving water, we pave the way for outdoor experiences that honor and protect the natural world preserving its beauty for future generations.

ecofriendly business travel green sustainable toiletries airlines plane plastic cutlery

6 Simple Ways to Make Business Travel More EcoFriendly

With business travel back in full swing, many of us are on the road or in airplanes travelling to our in-person meetings, conferences or trade shows. With our tight travel schedules, we are constantly on the move and as a consequence, we are buying and disposing of things out of convenience and consuming inefficiently.

Although we can’t control every aspect of our travel activity, we can modify our behaviour and make choices that support a more eco-friendly way. For example, choosing rideshare, selecting green certified accommodations, or using biodegradable travel products while travelling can still contribute to the environmental cause. Here are 6 ways to make business travel more sustainable.

 

Choose a Green Certified Hotel

Choosing a green certified hotel is ideal but may not always be practical for your unique travel situation. But if it makes sense for your travel plans, consider booking a green certified hotel.  

The hospitality industry, particularly hotels, are one of the biggest contributors to waste and energy consumption. According to a 2018 report by Green Lodging News, the average hotel guest generates approximately 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of waste per night, and about 30% of that waste is made up of plastic. The international hotel industry uses 150 million tons of single-use plastic every year with less than 10% of plastics recycled correctly. 

In recent years, there’s been a growing number of hotel chains enrolling in eco-certification programs to show their commitment to sustainability. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council sets the standard for sustainable travel and tourism and acts as the international accreditation body for these sustainability certification programs. Three of the most recognized green certification programs in North America include Green Globe, EarthCheck, and Green Key with many more listed on the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) website.

Hotels that participate in green certification programs are accountable to maintaining a sustainable operation which includes the reduction of waste, resource consumption and the use of environmentally friendly products. Well-known hotel brands participating in eco certification programs include the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotels, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, InterContinental Hotels (IHG), Starwood Hotels which include the Marriott and Sheraton brands to name a few. Making a commitment to choose green certified accommodations is a step in the right direction.

 

Bring your Own Toiletries

We love the little gifts we get in the bathroom especially when we forget to bring our own toiletries but the each year, 980 tonnes of travel sized plastic containers are dumped in landfills. Plastic toiletry bottles are a huge contributor to hotel solid waste. Many hotels have started to replace these small bottle toiletries with refillable glass bottles affixed to the shower wall that contain shampoo, conditioner, and shower gels. 

ecofriendly business travel green sustainable toiletries

The Marriott chain, for example, has eliminated the tiny disposable plastic toiletries from its 1,000 properties in North America which translates to saving the landfill from 500 million small bottles or 1.7 million pounds of plastic. 

Travel responsibly by bringing your own reusable small glass bottles and refill them with your own liquids instead of relying on hotels to provide these to you.

 

Reuse and Reduce Energy and Water Consumption

When travelling, some of us like to take advantage of the convenience that housekeeping offers. Replenishing our rooms with new linens and bath towels whenever we want, getting a towel for every part of your body and taking a special towel for different activities like fitness and swimming. Some of us are guilty of over consumption and unnecessary water and energy waste.

Water scarcity is a global concern and is a sustainability issue. The tourism and travel industry, specifically hotels and their guests, contribute to the water scarcity problem. According to Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, a hotel can use an average of 1,500 liters of water per room per day. In some regions, where there is water scarcity, mismanaged water consumption exacerbates the issue. Many green certified hotels are now tackling this problem with stricter regulations and policies.

Frequent visits by housekeeping to change bed sheets and replace soiled towels leads to more laundry which translates to more water and energy consumption. While on business travel, reusing towels as much as possible, or bringing your own towels will help reduce the need for laundry services during your stay. 

 

Dine-In to Reduce Disposable Plastic Waste

When you are on-the-road running a tight schedule full of meetings, it is hard to resist ordering take-out or delivery from fast food restaurants. It’s convenient, affordable and fits your schedule. But unfortunately, your take-out order uses a food container that is made of some material that will end up in the landfill and will take years to decompose. While many states have banned the distribution of plastic-based food containers and cutlery, many dining establishments continue to pollute the environment with non-biodegradable products and their choices are simply out of our control.

 

ecofriendly business travel green sustainable toiletries restaurant dine-in

Restaurants and food service businesses spend about $24 billion on disposable products each year and throw away nearly 9 million tons of disposable food ware and packaging. According to National Geographic, the restaurant industry generates about 78% of all disposable food packaging waste in the US and uses more than 36 billion disposable utensils each year. 

Five states have banned the purchase and distribution of foam and polystyrene restaurant products which include Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. Many restaurants have started to replace plastic cutlery, straws and stir sticks with organic materials made of bamboo and other wood products. 

With these laws left at the state and municipal level, there is inconsistency across the country and a lack of consolidated effort to reduce plastic pollution. However, as an individual, you can still make a positive impact and minimize plastic waste by choosing to dine-in and use reusable versus disposable tableware products provided by the restaurant. It may not always be practical to use your own glass food containers to package leftovers nor to bring silverware for the road, choosing to dine-in is a way to reduce food packaging waste and reduce the overall demand for materials that are harmful to our environment.

 

Share a Ride

Travelling with colleagues or solo travelling on a schedule with multiple destinations poses a sustainability challenge. The cost of ground transportation on our environment is enormous and again, the ideal scenario options may not be practical for your business travel but can be manageable if planned ahead.  

According to the EPA, transportation accounts for about 27% of total greenhouse gas emissions with short haul flights and local ground transportation as a solo driver being the biggest contributors to this statistic. While ride-hail programs like uber, lyft and grab don’t reduce carbon emissions when used by a single rider, an electrified car-pooled ride that is shared between two or more people, does reduce carbon emissions dramatically.

A driver with an electric vehicle transporting one person to a destination cuts emissions by about 50% while a car-pooled electric vehicle trip cuts emissions by nearly 70% compared to a private vehicle trip using a non-electric vehicle. Though we can’t always choose the type of vehicle we get when using a ride hailing app, we can try to coordinate ground transportation with colleagues to minimize the frequency and distance of travel thereby reducing our carbon footprint. 

Wherever possible, choose charter transportation, locate your hotel near your meetings, select taxi fleets with electric or hybrid vehicles or choose companies that implement navigation systems that offer the best fuel and time efficiency.  

 

Virtual Meetings as the Most Viable Option

We have seen how the use of technology to replace in-person meetings and conferences to virtual ones has positively impacted the environment. The savings generated in terms of time, money and resources moving from in-person to an online platform is a blessing for many businesses.

Based on a Cornell University-led study, the transition to virtual conferencing can reduce the carbon footprint by 94% and energy use by 90%. Producing conferences require the planning of food and hotel services, printing of signage and marketing materials, transporting supplies through various modes of transportation and the consumption of energy and other natural resources before, during and after the event. According to this study, each individual attendee produces up to 6,600 pounds of carbon dioxide because of their participation. If in-person events with more than 50 participants are expected to grow at a rate of 11.2% over the next decade with no other alternate delivery options, our environment will be greatly impacted. Though in-person meetings are necessary for building relationships, choose the virtual option whenever possible and fly only if necessary.

 

Your Sustainable Business Travel Commitment

Travel is a costly but necessary activity for business operations. If your company doesn’t have a sustainable travel policy, it might be a good time to reassess your travel program. From accommodations, to dining to transportation, consider the many areas and activities of business travel that affect our environment and find ways to implement sustainable practices. 

Even if you, alone, cannot influence or change your company’s current travel policies, you can still make choices that support the preservation of our environment.

 

ecofriendly business travel green sustainable bamboo ecoluxetoiletries

restaurant food containers take away food delivery sustainable plastic ban

Canada’s Plastic Ban on Food Containers and Sustainable Alternatives

The food take-out and delivery business was a lifeline for many restaurants during the pandemic.  When in-person dining was on lock-down, the only revenue stream restaurants could leverage was their food delivery business. Unfortunately, the increased customer demand for take-out service, increased the amount of disposable food containers and packaging in our waste system. 

The growing consumption of single-use plastics presents a global environmental pollution crisis. Because plastic has been the material of choice for many products including disposable dinnerware, its global production has doubled every ten years. 

Like many first world countries, Canada has a plastic pollution problem. According to the Environmental Defence report, Canada disposes of 90% of its plastic waste which is roughly equivalent to about 4,426 kilo tonnes of plastic discarded each year of which 50% is food packaging.

In an effort to reduce the gap between the amount of plastic packaging that is currently consumed and disposed of each year and the country’s aim to eliminate plastic packaging waste by 2030, governments at all levels, from municipal to federal, are working together to develop a solution. 

On June 20, 2022, the Government of Canada announced a ban on single-use plastics. The regulations prohibit the manufacturing, importing and sale of six categories of single use-plastics including plastic bags, disposable plastic cutlery, beverage ring carriers, plastic stir sticks and restaurant food containers particularly those that contain expanded or extruded polystyrene foam, polyvinyl chloride, carbon black and and oxo-degradable plastic. 

 

Timeline for the Ban on Plastics in Canada

Any establishment using single-use plastic bags and containers such as retailers, hotels, food services of all types (food trucks, cafes, bakeries, fast food, casual and fine dining restaurants), are affected by this new regulation. The Canadian government outlined the definition of these six affected plastic categories and proposed a graduated timeline for phasing out the products so that businesses have time to deplete their current stock and start finding alternatives to plastic materials.

 

restaurant food containers take away food delivery sustainable plastic ban

Below is a table of the banned plastic product categories with a definition of what each category includes and the proposed material alternatives to replace plastic based takeout or food delivery packaging and supplies. 

Plastic ProductsDescriptionAlternatives
Check out BagsPlastic bags for carrying purchased goods at the point of sale in a retail establishmentUse your own fabric bag, bring a paper bag or reuse plastic bags you have for as long as possible
CutleryPlastic disposable knives, forks, spoons, sporks and chopsticksOffer birch or bamboo cutlery including knives, spoons, forks, sporks, chopsticks
Ring carriersPlastic rings that fit around the beverage containers and designed to carry multiple beverages like a 6 pack togetherDisplay them on the shelves or bag them together
Stir Sticks and lid coverPlastic stir sticks for stirring and plastic lid plugs that prevent liquids from spillingBamboo stir sticks or lid with spout cover built-in
Food service warePlastic food containers like clamshell containers, lidded containers, boxes, cups, plates or bowls which contain expanded or extruded polystyrene foam, polyvinyl chloride, carbon black or an oxo-degradable plasticBamboo fibre, bagasse pulp, kraft paper food containers have no plastic. 
StrawsStraight or flexible straws which have a corrugated section that allows the straw to bend or packaged with beverage containersPaper straws or bamboo straws. 

 

The Government of Canada in collaboration with local municipalities are supporting the transition to plastic free food containers. Some municipalities, such as those in the Greater Vancouver region, are accepting plastic products including cutlery into their recycling stream as a way to deplete those already in circulation. The Government published the timeline for this transition and the approximate dates for the ban so that industry can prepare for the mandatory replacement of single-use plastic. Learn more by downloading this document.

 

Item TypeManufacture and import of plastics for sale in CanadaSaleManufacture, import or sale for Export
Checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware, stir sticks, straws*December 20, 2022December 20, 2023December 20, 2025
Ring CarriersJune 20, 2023June 20, 2024December 20, 2025
Flexible straws packaged with beverage containersNot applicableJune 20, 2024December 20, 2025

 

The Various Types of Plastics Used for Food Containers 

A majority of food containers are made from plastics because they are sturdy, heat-resistant and possess properties that create the ideal condition for food storage. They are also cheap to produce making them an attractive option for restaurants that operate with thin margins. 

The most widely used food containers are made from synthetic plastics which are derived from crude oil, natural gas or coal (fossil fuels) and refined into ethane and propane. Ethane and propane are then treated with heat in a process called “cracking” which turns them into ethylene and propylene. These two are combined to create different polymers such as polyethylene and polystyrene and then injected into the container molds to produce the take out food containers. Most take away food containers are made from these types of plastic. 

  1. Polypropylene (PP) used for microwavable food containers and condiment packaging.
  2. Polystyrene (PS) is the lightweight, rigid plastic used for clamshells, bowls, trays
  3. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is a clear lightweight plastic typically used as a cover lid for food containers.
  4. Polyethylene (PE) is a flexible plastic used as food bags typically in grocery and produce

Containers made with these plastics are non biodegradable and with its widespread use, we are racing against the rapid growth of its disposal in our landfills.

 

Alternatives to Plastic Foodware Containers and Cutlery

Companies continue to innovate with new materials to find more eco-friendly alternatives to plastics. Compostable and biodegradable materials are becoming more popular due to their ability to break down easily and naturally thus lessening the impact on the environment. The most common alternative materials for food packaging include bioplastics, paper and cardboard, bagasse, bamboo and polylactic acid (PLA).

Bioplastics are made from plant-based renewable resources such as cornstarch, sugarcane and potato starch. While they are more sustainable than traditional plastics made from fossil fuels, the product process can still involve significant energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, some bioplastics may not biodegrade quickly or completely under certain conditions and may require composting facilities to break down properly.

Containers made of kraft paper or cardboard is another sustainable option for food packaging but is much less durable than plastic. Paper and cardboard are more vulnerable to mold, fire and water. They don’t have the ability to hold as much weight because they are not as durable and strong or  to retain temperatures well or as long as other more durable materials like bagasse and bioplastic. Because of its poor barrier properties, some are coated with oil and water repellents – chemicals that could affect how they are disposed of. However, there are kraft based containers coated with plant-based poly lactic acid (PLA) making them biodegradable with very little to no impact on the environment. 

restaurant food containers take away food delivery sustainable plastic ban

Bagasse is a byproduct of the sugarcane process. It is the fibrous residue that remains after the sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juice. It is biodegradable and compostable. Because it is derived from the waste produced by the sugar-making process, it is a sustainable and organic option and contributes to the zero waste initiative. The only drawback is that bagasse tends to lose its strength and durability at temperatures above 95 degrees celsius. However, it ranks high as a healthier alternative for storing food.

Bamboo containers are made from the pulp of bamboo plants. Its properties are appealing and suitable for food packaging as well as disposable cutlery. Bamboo is renewable, biodegradable and has natural antibacterial properties. It is stronger than bagasse and can withstand higher temperatures without losing its durability.

Polylactic acid (PLA) is made from starches and sugars of corn. The corn is milled and the sugars are fermented into lactic acid. It’s a natural polymer designed to substitute widely used petroleum-based plastics like PET (polyethene terephthalate). PLA is used to produce clear cups, lids and salad boxes and also used as a layer of coating on kraft paper based containers to repel water and oil. The downside to PLA based food containers is that it requires specific conditions for it to be properly composted and must be sorted separately in a closed composting environment otherwise it contaminates the recycling stream.

A Transition Plan for Compliance

All of these alternative materials are considered environmentally friendly and sustainable. But before deciding to switch from plastic based containers to biodegradable or compostable ones, be sure to check with your local waste management program to ensure that the food containers you invest in are truly providing the positive impact that you intended.

For a selection of biodegradable food containers, visit our shop and let us help you with your transition for compliance with the new regulations.

 

restaurant food containers take away food delivery sustainable plastic ban

kitchen recycling sustainable home

8 Kitchen Habits for Sustainable Living

Most of us don’t even really think about the habits we have in the kitchen that contribute to waste in our landfills and the environmental damage it causes. We choose the easy and more convenient way of doing things like just throwing everything but the kitchen sink in the garbage instead of consciously separating waste and directing it to their appropriate places. 

 

We use a lot of plastic to store food like saran wrap and ziploc bags. We buy large quantities of food and throw unused or spoiled food in the garbage. We buy processed food that is packaged in layers of non-biodegradable packaging or made from non-sustainable products.

 

Some of us may be clueless about the impact our habits have on the environment while others are perfectly aware but don’t have the facility nor the local infrastructure for a more eco-friendly waste management solution.

 

Garbage is filling up our landfills each year and it doesn’t seem to be easing up. In Canada, 31 million tonnes of garbage is produced each year and in the US, over 200 million tonnes of municipal solid waste was thrown away in 2018.

 

In order to change this trend, we all need to do our part. Each household can make a small contribution to a greener future by making the right choices and changing small habits every day in our kitchens. Here are some simple tips to implement in your kitchen.

1. Composting

Composting is a microbial process that converts plant materials and food scraps into a usable rich, organic matter that fertilizes soil. Composting provides the right environment for bacteria, fungi and other decomposing organisms like worms and sowbugs to convert these organic waste to fertilizers.

 

If your local waste management system doesn’t have a composting program, consider separating food scraps from other non compostable garbage yourself and throwing them into your garden (if you have one). This is the best way to reduce and divert organic compostable matter from the landfills.

kitchen recycling sustainable home

2. Just-in-Time Food Consumption

Instead of cramming your refrigerator with bulk purchases of food that you have to freeze, consider consuming fresh food from the market. Picking up food when you need it, reduces the need to package and store food which, in turn, reduces the demand for more plastics and packaging. 

 

Not only do you benefit from healthier, fresh food but you also reduce your exposure to carcinogenic chemicals, such as nitrites and sorbates, that are often used to preserve food especially in canned, processed or pickled products.

3. Recycle What You Can

Whenever possible, instead of throwing packaging materials into your garbage, separate and recycle them. Refer to the recycling number and find out how your community is recycling these packages. 

 

If you live in a condo, perhaps there is a guide on how to separate your packaging and garbage so they are directed to the right bins. For example, some buildings may have a garbage chute that separates organic matter from garbage and recyclable products. Do your best to follow these guidelines. One error can spoil an entire bag of recyclable products.

 

If you live in a strata building, like a townhome, follow your waste management program and ensure you have all the necessary tools like compost pails and recycling boxes.

4. No Styrofoam Packaged Products

Many municipalities do not accept styrofoam for recycling. In fact, styrofoam is made of polystyrene which is petroleum based and typically non recyclable. Some municipalities do accept it as part of their recycling program but it goes through a lengthy process. 

 

Try not to buy food that is packaged in styrofoam. For municipalities that don’t accept styrofoam, this packaging becomes garbage. Be conscious of how products are packaged and ensure that you are not contributing to waste because the food you are purchasing is packaged in the wrong materials.

5. Reduce Food Scraps with Leftover Recipes

Get good at using leftovers to make meals and you will help to reduce the food waste problem. Approximately 81% of all municipal waste is food material. By learning how to make meals with leftovers, your kitchen can reduce the amount of food that is thrown away in garbage.

kitchen recycling sustainable home6. Use Cloth for Clean Ups

This is an easy one but sometimes hard to implement. When we have paper towels around, we tend to use it instead of reusable cloth. We may think that paper is recyclable and easily biodegradable but we have to remember that every time we throw paper towels, we are adding to the waste pollution problem. 

 

Instead of using a roll of paper towels, use a washable cloth that you can easily wash clean and reuse. J cloths are the best for wiping down counters and other table surfaces. Wash it and reuse it. 

7. Machine Dish wash instead of Hand Washing

Some may think that washing dishes by hand is more sustainable (minimized water use) but in fact, washing by hand may use up more water than a dishwasher. Many of today’s dishwashers are energy efficient and use less water when you choose a short wash setting.

 

If you decide to wash by hand, have a system in place so you don’t leave the water running for too long. The part that makes water use more wasteful when hand washing dishes is when you let the water run until it gets warm and then let it run as you are sudsing and cleaning off the grime. Consider an energy efficient dishwasher to get the job done quickly and more efficiently.

8. Remove Coffee Pods from Your Morning Ritual

When Keurig came out with a convenient way to make single serve cup coffee with K-cups, it was a popular option to multi cup coffee grinds. It offered less hassle with preparation and offered a large assortment of flavors. Unfortunately, unless you deconstruct the pods before disposing, they are not recycle friendly. The K-cups are made of a combination of plastic, aluminum, paper filter and coffee grinds. In order for them to be recycled, you need to remove the pods from the casing and separate them and place them in the right recycling bins.

 

To reduce the possibility of waste and garbage, consider using single serve instant coffee, reusable coffee pods with coffee grinds or coffee filters for single cups. All these options will help keep K-cups out of the landfills.

 

These simple changes can make a huge difference when households across the country start to adopt small sustainable practices in their kitchen. If we find alternative ways to our current habits and recycle as much as possible, we can divert garbage from the landfills.

 

kitchen zero waste sustainable living

5 Simple Tips to Purge Plastic from Your Kitchen

We can all do our little part in changing the way we live by being more conscious about our use of plastic at home. Many don’t realize the impact that plastic has not only on our environment but also on our health. From every step of the plastic manufacturing process, we are exposed to the toxins emitted through inhalation or ingestion through the air, water or soil we breathe, consume or touch. 

Plastic materials contain micro plastic particles and various toxic substances that are known or suspected to contain carcinogens that disrupt the human endocrine system leading to a host of health problems that affect human reproductive and nervous systems.

Plastic comes into our homes in various ways through various products. Many we may not even be aware of. There are the obvious household products like plastic bags, tableware, cups, milk jugs, food containers and personal care products that we know contain plastics. But then there are those products that are less obvious, like carton boxes of milk or cream, that are made of paperboard but also contain a thin layer of polyethylene (plastic).

For those who are interested in starting the journey to sustainable living and purging plastic from their homes, we start by identifying the common household products that have alternative eco-friendly options first. 

Replacing Plastic Kitchen Products with Bamboo

One of the most practical and eco-friendly materials for kitchen products is bamboo. There are many kitchen items that can be replaced with bamboo. If bamboo is not your preferred choice, you can also consider other wood products like teak, oak or birch. But we highly recommend bamboo because it is far more renewable than wood with its ability to grow and replenish in a matter of months where wood would take at least 50 years.

Start with your kitchen drawers. Open your kitchen drawer and you might find the following items in plastic form. Consider these easy swaps from plastic to biodegradable eco friendly ones as a simple way to purge your plastic from your kitchen.

  • Cutlery Organizer: If you have a plastic cutlery organizer in your drawer you can replace it with a bamboo expandable drawer organizer that offers the flexibility to fit most drawer sizes. They come in various compartment sizes. They are very practical and look elegant. You can typically get these organizers in a light bamboo natural colour, black painted wood or white painted bamboo.

 

  • Cooking Utensils: Many of us have plastic cooking tools in our drawers. Maybe you got them at the dollar store for a cheap price. Never thinking that the plastic would actually melt, flake and embed in your food as you cook. It’s toxic and you may want to replace it with bamboo cooking utensils

kitchen zero waste sustainable living

  • Cutting Boards: Your cutting board might be plastic and stored in your kitchen drawer. This is another plastic product you can replace with a bamboo board. There are many advantages to using an organic cutting board over a plastic one including its antibacterial properties and its resilience to scarring. 


  • Flatware and Other Cutlery: Perhaps you have stainless steel flatware at home, but some of us store various types of plastic cutlery products including straws, stir sticks, tongs and picnic cutlery in our drawer and we may not even be aware of this. You may already know that plastic straws have been banned in various regions in North America and replaced with paper, stainless steel or bamboo straws. Now you can also replace all other plastic products with reusable bamboo utensils from cutlery to stir sticks and more.

 

  • Bowls and Containers: In your deeper bottom drawers or cabinets, you may find plastic bowls and storage containers for your leftovers. In fact, your fridge may be full of these plastic containers. Remember that putting these plastic containers in your microwave can cause toxins to leak into your food. Plastic containers have additives called phthalates that provide its flexibility and resilience and may melt at a lower temperature and leach out to the food when temperature reaches beyond 100C (212 F) in the microwave. You can replace these with ceramic or glass that can be safely microwaved and also effectively store food in the fridge.

kitchen zero waste sustainable living

These are very common household kitchen tools that have eco-friendly replacements. With so many bamboo kitchen products now available even at the dollar stores, they are very affordable and accessible. Consider the biodegradable nature of bamboo or wooden products and the safer option of using glass, ceramic or stainless steel for more temperature resilience. 

It’s not too late to start making changes around your home and purge plastic from your kitchen. To find more eco-friendly products, visit the shop page.

ecofriendly office supplies

5 Ways to Operate a More Sustainable Office at Home

Since the pandemic, many of us have experienced a change in our workplace environment. Commercial spaces emptied and the downtown core saw an outflow of employees moving their work from office to home. Our workplace environment has changed and so has our mode of business operations.

With less commuting, less overall business activities and to some degree, reduced consumption, we realized that this new normal improved our environment, specifically our air quality. Less carbon emissions from the commuting public and less manufacturing activities cleared the air (as they say). Working from home has now taken root and many employers are now accepting this as part of the new corporate reality.

With many of us now permanently working at home while others are working within a hybrid model, how do we maintain the eco progress we have made during the pandemic and ensure that we continue down this greener path?

One answer is to adopt more sustainable ways to operate your office and business. At home, you have full control of your environment from heating, electricity, waste management to purchasing office supplies. Here are five simply tips on how to maintain a more sustainable workplace at home:

1. Minimize the Printing

There are many ways you can help to save a tree. Remember that wood is not as sustainable as bamboo and requires approximately 50 years of maturity before being harvested into pulp and paper. Reducing the need to print will help slow down the deforestation (which impacts a host of other biodiversity issues). Here are ideas on how to adopt this quickly:
Choose email as a way to receive mail rather than physical documents

  • When printing, double side your print jobs to reduce the number of pages and ink required
  • Digitize everything. If you have paper copies, scan them using a printer / scanner or take a photo of it to create PDF documents and then recycle the paper
  • Instead of printing and distributing presentations, choose to screen share at the meeting or send a link prior to the meeting to prepare attendees for your meeting discussions

2. Cut down on Electricity Use

When not in use, turn things off. Sometimes we don’t realize that office equipment like printers, devices and other computers are using up electricity while idle. There are many ways you can conserve energy at your home office:

  • Use the same computer (desktop or laptop) for working and listening to music if possible in order to cut down on the number of devices you are using
  • Turn off printers, monitors, devices and other equipment when not in use
  • If you have a lot of natural light in your home office, consider positioning your desk near the window to reduce the amount of lights you need
  • Replace light bulbs with energy efficient LEDs
  • Wear warmer clothes to reduce the amount of heat required or turn off your heater during warmer weather

ecofriendly office supplies3. Recycle and Reuse Office Supplies

We buy a lot of office supplies that we throw away after a single use. While there are some items you can’t reuse like notepads with writing, there are many that you can recycle and reuse.

  • Binders are reusable and practical. They are expandable, durable, multi-purpose and versatile and a perfect replacement for single use notepads
  • Page Flags can be reused. They may not be as sticky as the first time you use them, but they still do the job when reused a second time.
  • Rulers and scissors can be reused. If you have a dull scissor, sharpen them instead of throwing them away
  • Reuse paper as scrap. Before throwing away a single sided piece of paper, use it for scribbling, sketching, doodling or note taking
  • Paper clips and rubber bands can be reused many times over
  • Replace single use plastic pens with refillable mechanical pencils.
  • Reuse printer cartridges by refilling ink jet or recycle the old ones appropriately

4. Buy Eco Friendly Supplies

Another option to creating a sustainable office is to buy eco-friendly supplies made of bamboo. A majority of office supplies are made from man made materials like plastic which are non biodegradable. Consider replacing these plastic supplies with bamboo made products. Bamboo is 100% biodegradable, eco friendly and far more renewable than wood. Here are some supplies that can be replaced with bamboo:

  • Pens and pencils
  • Pen and pencil holders
  • Drawer organizers
  • Device caddies
  • Rulers and straight edge sets
  • Pencil sharpeners

ecofriendly office supplies5. Choose Sustainable Kitchen Products

Working at home means having more frequent access to the comforts of our kitchen. This might mean more cups of coffee or eating snacks more often throughout the day. There are many opportunities to improve our habits in the kitchen. Here are ideas on how to adopt a more eco friendly practice:

  • If you’re using k-cups consider using instant coffee or filtered drip coffee to reduce waste
  • Make coffee at home instead of buying them from the coffee and then disposing cups that only add to landfills
  • Consider using paper bags for your garbage instead of plastic garbage bags.
  • Reduce the use of disposable food containers by making food at home instead of ordering out often
  • Use stainless steel or eco friendly bamboo utensils instead of plastic take out utensils

Working at home gives one a lot of flexibility and the ability to create a good work-life balance. For the most part, working remotely allows you to have the freedom to choose office supplies that are the most eco-friendly, control your energy use and configure your office in a way that optimizes your space for improved productivity.

sustainable living kitchen

Sustainable Living Series: 10 Simple Tips to Creating an Eco Friendly Kitchen

Look around your kitchen. If you haven’t already noticed, there are probably a lot of non biodegradable and harmful products in your kitchen. From plastic cooking utensils to toxic cleaning chemicals, they are everywhere in our kitchen. If you haven’t taken stock yet, take inventory of what you have and pay special attention to where these products end up at their end of life. 

 

Are they recycled or do they sit in the landfill for years? Do they naturally decompose or does the breakdown process require energy or chemical treatment that could be harmful to the environment? This is an important consideration when choosing what you buy because our landfill is not shrinking but instead continues to grow. 

 

In 2018, Canada’s municipal solid waste (MSW) which includes food, plastics, glass, metals, paper, rubber and wood was 35.5 million tonnes while the United States generated 292 million tonnes of MSW. Of the total waste generated in the US alone, about 146 million tonnes (or about 50%) ended up in the landfills.

 

The largest component of the waste that ended up in landfills consisted of food at 24% with plastics accounting for just over 18%, paper and paperboard at 12%, rubber, textiles and leather at 11% and other materials at 10% each. 

 

Our kitchens generate the most waste combining food, plastic, paper and steel. Imagine if each household did their small part in being a little more conscious of how they choose products and dispose of their waste, we can all contribute to diverting and reducing landfill pollution.

 

Here are some simple tips you can adopt and practice as you begin your journey to a more sustainable lifestyle. 

 

Cleaning Products

1.  Sponges are one of the basic cleaning items that we use to hand wash dishes, pots and pans. Many may not be aware that every day sponges are derived from petroleum-based polyurethane or polyester which is a form of plastic. These sponges not only shed microplastics as you wash, but they are also non-biodegradable, non-recyclable and end up in landfills.

 

Tip: Replace man-made synthetic sponges with organic veggie based materials like loofahs or cotton cloths. You can also consider using brushes with wood handles and castor oil (veggie based) bristles that are fully biodegradable. This option is healthier for you and the environment

sustainable living kitchen

2. Cleaning Solutions is a major source of pollutants. They may be effective in getting your kitchen sparkling clean or unplugging your drain, but those toxic chemicals end up in our waterways with some remnants infiltrating into the food chain. These chemicals can also be harmful to our health causing eye, skin or respiratory irritation and long term exposure causing more serious health issues.

 

Tip: Consider cleaning solutions that are gentle on the environment and have ecolabels or are certified as a Safer Choice product in the EPA database.

 

3. Paper towels and paper waste, though biodegradable, still contribute to the growing landfill pollution. They made up 12% or 17 million tonnes of municipal solid waste in the US in 2018. Many have grown accustomed to single use paper towels and napkins to wipe down counters and surfaces because it is convenient and we know it is compostable. However, when combined with other non biodegradable waste, paper towels add just as much garbage to our landfills.

 

Tip: Instead of using paper towels, use dish clothes that can be washed and reused to wipe down surfaces. Use a tea cloth for wiping your hands or dishes dry. This encourages reuse and helps reduce waste materials.

 

4. Disposable Floor Wipes, like the swiffer, is a convenient, hassle-free way to clean your kitchen floor without the labor that’s involved in traditional floor mopping. It’s quick and easy but unfortunately, the cleaning chemicals in the pad are toxic and the swiffer pads themselves are made of polypropylene which is a form of non biodegradable plastic along with other materials.

 

Tip: Consider using a mop. It seems cumbersome to have to fill a pale with soap and water and push and squeeze a mop to clean a floor but the single-use disposable swiffer option contributes to our waste problem.

sustainable living kitchen

Wraps, Bags and Enclosures

5. Saran Wrap is a convenient way to store food especially when used as a seal to cover food in a dish or just generally to store food safely. It is a thin plastic film made of Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE). Plastic wrap is not safe to use in ovens and personally, I don’t trust that it is safe in a microwave either because untreated plastic wrap can release chemicals and melt when heated. Aside from the health risks it poses in high temperature, it is also non biodegradable when disposed in the garbage.

 

Tip: Instead of using plastic wrap, consider using glass containers with a cover or use a plate to cover the top of an open dish if you are storing food in the fridge. 

 

6. Ziploc bags are common items found in the kitchen that conveniently stores and packs sandwiches and other items. Plastic food bags, made of polyethylene, are widely used as packaging to store meat in a freezer because they are space savers and also used for packing lunches. Unfortunately, after we use them, we discard them and they end up in landfills.

 

Tip: Consider using glass containers when storing and packing food that will be consumed in the short term. Instead of buying in bulk, buy and consume just what you will eat to prevent the need to store food.

 

7. Plastic Food Containers are kitchen essentials and commonly used for storing larger amounts of food. Many refrigerate their left overs and then later warm them up in a microwave. These food containers are made of low-density polyethylene or polypropylene and have a high temperature tolerance before it reaches its melting point. Whether it is safe to microwave with food is debatable because researchers claim there are still gaps in their understanding of how plastics affect our health and development. Polypropylene is known to be non biodegradable and will reach our landfills at end of life.

 

TIP: Substitute plastic food containers with reusable glass containers for safe microwave use and ultimately generate less reliance and demand for plastic products in general.

sustainable living kitchen

8. Garbage Bags are made of polyethylene (petroleum-based resin) or in the case of Glad garbage bags, they are made of butene polymer with ethene (or polythene). While some say there are polythenes that are biodegradable over a very long period of time, others claim that polythenes are not biodegradable. Many of us buy whatever garbage bags are available on store shelves but, we may not be aware that our choices will leave a legacy in our landfills.

 

TIP: Instead of garbage bags, consider finding bioplastic bags or just using paper bags for your garbage and put them out in your trash can to be ready for pick up. 

 

9. Aluminum based products including tin cans, aluminum foils and packaging contribute about 8.8% of the total municipal solid waste in the US in 2018. This is approximately 26.3 million tonnes with 52% that is landfilled. Foils are convenient ways to store food in shelves and fridges. But, unfortunately, they are easily discarded and unless they are not soiled, they can’t be recycled. 

 

TIP: Using aluminum foil is convenient for lining pans when baking and storing leftover food however, to reduce aluminum waste, consider these three things: 1) using simply the non-stick pan without the foil lining 2) eliminating tin foil baking sheets from your kitchen supplies and 3) instead of accumulating leftovers, buy exactly what you will need and consume. 

sustainable living kitchen

Kitchen Cooking Tools

10. Plastic Utensils are what we commonly use for cooking. Plastic utensils are made of Acrylonitrile–butadiene–styrene resin (ABS) and acrylonitrile–styrene resin (AS) which contain volatile substances that are potentially carcinogenic and toxic. Both ABS and AS are not biodegradable. In fact, many may not know that these utensils are made from recycled computer parts (especially the black plastic utensils) and over time, they chip and fray with microplastics landing in your food. Because plastics can’t biodegrade, they end up in landfills.

TIP: Consider wooden bamboo utensils for health and safety reasons. Bamboo, in particular, are biodegradable so they are one of the safest cooking tools you can have in your kitchen. They are antibacterial, organic and don’t scratch the surface of your pots and pans. 

 

These are simple ways to start your journey to sustainable living. You may find many more opportunities to become more sustainable at home. Share your experience and tips with us here.

 

traveler sustainable travel

7 Tips on How to Become a Sustainable Traveler

Becoming a sustainable and more eco conscious traveler is easy. As many countries relax their travel entry restrictions due to the declining rate of COVID cases, many of us are starting to plan international travel with family and bring more normalcy to our lifestyle.

 

Parallel to this growing pent-up demand for travel, awareness about climate change continues to heighten. The most recent Global Climate Summit, COP 26, which was held in Glasgow Scotland in 2021 reminded us of the urgency of climate change and the impact of global warming. 

 

With this in the forefront of many people’s minds, some of us can’t help to think about how important it is for us to do our part in contributing to reducing our carbon footprint. This extends to how we travel. Many businesses in the travel industry are continuing to transition towards more sustainable services from airlines to hotels. They are working to do their part to promote an eco-friendly way of doing business. 

 

In the meantime, consumers can do their part by being aware of the choices they make when traveling. Here are 10 tips on how to become a more sustainable traveler. 

 

1. Choose a transportation mode that has less carbon emissions

In 2019 (pre-pandemic), we produced about 915 million tonnes of CO2 worldwide through flights. Aviation is responsible for 12% of the total carbon emissions from all transport sources while automobiles account for about 74%. When planning your next travel adventure, you might want to review how your chosen mode of transportation will impact the environment.

 

While a low carbon emission vacation like rowing a canoe or riding a bike may not be the most ideal or practical mode of transportation, consider the overall impact of all your planned vacations for the year and perhaps make some adjustments with this in mind.

 

2. Bring Your Own Reusable Toiletry Containers or Bottles

 

An easy way to be more sustainable in your travel is to replace any plastic products you already use as part of your travel kit, like containers and toiletries, with eco-friendly ones made of glass or bamboo. When traveling, bring your own reusable, refillable containers for your liquids like shampoo, conditioner, lotions and shower gel. If the hotel offers bulk liquid hair products, just refill your containers with them.

 

If you find plastic toiletry kits offered at the hotels you are staying in, don’t use them or take them. Using and taking them contributes to the plastic pollution problem because they end up in the landfill. If you use the liquid partially, they will get discarded by housekeeping. So, resist using these even though they are free to take.

traveler sustainable travel

 

3. Choose a hotel or accommodation who are part of the Green Key program

If you want to support hotels and resorts that practice sustainability, consider looking up which hotels are part of the Green Key program. 

 

This sustainability program certifies hotels and resorts as being green. In order to be certified, hotels must adhere to the sustainable policies like being more efficient with energy use, reducing waste and saving water. 

 

Over 1500 hotels in 15 different countries ranging from 3 – 5 star level participate. Some well known brands like the Fairmount Group, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Radisson, Coast Hotels and The Sheraton are members. These hotels are certified and audited each year to ensure they are following sustainable guidelines set by the Green Key Program. 

 

4. Replace your personal care products with biodegradable ones

From toothbrush to dental floss and toothbrush travel case, replace your plastics with eco friendly bamboo material. Bamboo is an eco-friendly, 100% biodegradable and renewable product that is compostable. They are also BPA free, anti-bacterial and lightweight so they are non toxic, safer and fit easily in your carry on. 

traveler sustainable travel

 

5. Don’t Accept Single Use Plastic Products

You may be given non biodegradable styrofoam or plastic containers for things like coffee cups, stir sticks, straws, cutlery and food containers. Although you can’t change what the hotel or restaurants choose to use, you can decide to find alternatives. Consuming or using these products makes you a contributor to the plastic waste problem so don’t use them. 

 

Here are some options you can choose to take:

  • Bring your own reusable flatware (stainless steel or bamboo)
  • Ask for biodegradable flatware, cups or cutlery if they are a green hotel
  • Ask for stainless steel flatware or dinnerware that they use at the restaurant if you are doing in-room dining
  • Eat at the restaurant and only order what you can consume so as to minimize the need to use containers to take back to your room

traveler sustainable travel

 

6. Be Conscious of Your Water and Energy Use

Showering once a day may be a necessity but using a new towel for each shower is not. You may find signs at your hotel about being conscious of water use and reducing the housekeeping changes to a minimum. This includes minimizing the number of times housekeeping replenishes items you use in your room including laundering towels. Frequent changes of bed sheets and towels requires water use that isn’t necessary. To truly practice sustainability, keep these changes to a minimum. 

 

If you are leaving the room, turn off all the lights and reduce the amount of energy being used including any electronics plugged in and left on while you are away. During the day, use natural light as much as possible and don’t turn on the lights if it’s not needed. These are just simple things to keep in mind that help the hotels remain sustainable.

 

7. Recycle your trash

Many of the hotels have two types of bins in their hotel rooms – garbage and recycle. Whatever can be recycled like recyclable containers, paper products and cartons should be separated and placed into the blue bins so it can be handled properly by those who have to sort through the trash. At the very least, this helps us minimize the amount of trash that ends up in the landfills. 

 

These are some of the simple things to do when you are traveling to help reduce your carbon footprint. Finding alternatives to taking an airplane for global travel may not be practical but at the very least, you can find other ways to curb your use of plastics, to save energy and water use and to recycle whenever you can. 

traveler sustainable eco gift personal care

Become a Sustainable Traveler by purchasing this Personal Care Essentials Box.

Let's Hear from You

bamboo climate change sustainable

Most Frequently Asked Questions about Bamboo 

So many are curious about bamboo and its benefits to our environment. So as part 2 of our knowledge base about this incredible plant, we answer some of the most common questions many still have. 

 

If you’ve read Everything You Need to Know about Bamboo and other blog articles, you probably already know that there are over 1,000 species of bamboo in the world and thousands of applications and uses. It is the most versatile plant in the world and definitely worth learning about. 

 

How Does Bamboo Spread ?

There are two types of bamboo roots – clumping and running bamboo. Clumping bamboos have a pachymorph rhizome system whose buds underground grow upwards instead of outwards making it more controllable as it spouts directly up from the ground. Running bamboo has a leptomorph rhizome system which grows laterally underground pushing through the soil with new rhizomes growing perpendicularly to its parent rhizome.. The running bamboo can spread as far as 20 feet underground from its original parent rhizome and can spread as much as 3 to 5 feet per year.

bamboo climate change sustainable

Why Does Bamboo Grow So Fast? 

Certain species of bamboo, like the moso bamboo, can grow as fast as 0.00003 km/ hr or 1.5 inches per hour. Several studies have found that plant hormones including gibberellin, indole acetic acid and zeatin may play a role in promoting the fast growth rate of bamboo shoots.

Gibberellin (GA) is one of the plant hormones that regulate a wide range of processes involved in plant growth. Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) is an auxin produced by terrestrial plants, like bamboo, which influences development through a variety of cellular mechanisms, such as cell elongation. Zeatin promotes growth of lateral buds.

How Does Bamboo Grow?

Bamboo grows in marginal land with little to no pesticides required. Bamboo stores sugars in its underground rhizomes (root system) and as it grows, it produces fine root hairs and buds that develop into new rhizomes. Each culm breaks through the soil surface as its final mature diameter (its stalk’s diameter does not widen as it grows). The culms (stem) grow to its full height between 30 – 60 days and its branches and leaves fold out from the culm in the next 30 – 60 days.

Because bamboo has high tolerance to various environments, bamboo is a good candidate for afforestation, carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. 

 

Is Bamboo a Grass?

Yes, bamboo (subfamily Bambusoideae) is a grass. It is a subfamily of treelike grasses called Poaceae. Bamboo has more than 115 genera and approximately 1400 species.

bamboo climate change sustainable

How Tall Does Bamboo Grow?

Some species of bamboo can grow as high as 30 meters or 100 feet high and 10 – 12 inches in diameter.

 

How Long Does It Take Bamboo to Grow?

Bamboo takes about three years to get established. Once established the new shoots that emerge in the Spring (they will still only grow for 60 days) will continue to get bigger and more numerous from year to year as the colony grows towards maturity.

 

What Do the Rings on the Bamboo Mean?

The bamboo rings are called nodes. Each culm (stem) is segmented by these nodes or joints. 

bamboo climate change sustainable

Cam Bamboo Act as a Fire Retardant?

Because it contains large amounts of silicate acid, bamboo is abnormally flame resistant and could curb forest fires. Making clumping bamboo a part of a tropical reforestation effort could be beneficial to reducing future instances of wildfires.

 

Can Bamboo Prevent Soil Erosion?

Because bamboo is a grass, it has a very shallow root system. Most of its rhizomes live on the top 6 inches of the soil while the rest can spread as deep as 14 inches. Because the roots are so densely clumped, they help to deter soil erosion which reduces soil fertility and contributes to flooding and landslides.

bamboo climate change sustainable

How Does Bamboo Help with Climate Change?

Bamboos helps to mitigate the effects of climate change by: 

  • Absorbing and storing carbon during its fast growth and frequent harvesting process which happens more often than trees, bamboo can store and absorb more carbon 
  • Protecting forests by mitigating the spread of wildfires with its unique fire retardant characteristics
  • Protecting watersheds by reducing soil erosion that produces sediments that block waterways making areas more susceptible to flooding
  • Insulating environments against extreme weather because of its flexibility and resilience in surviving natural disasters including typhoons and hurricanes
  • Providing low-cost, green housing option that produces lower carbon emissions
  • Providing cleaner biofuels that reduce our reliance on fossil fuel extraction and production

 

Does Bamboo Produce More or Less Carbon than Trees?

When plants decompose, they release carbon dioxide. When bamboo is actively managed (harvested), farmers will harvest the mature bamboo culms before they decay, so the total amount of carbon stored by the ecosystem increases as new culms emerge faster than they decay resulting in more carbon sequestered in subsequent years. Harvesting bamboo culms doesn’t kill the plant and the extensive rhizome (root system) continues to store the carbon below ground even after the bamboo is harvested.

 

As long as bamboo forests or farms are actively harvested and remain productive, more carbon is sequestered than produced from decaying culms.

 

On the other hand, when trees are clear cut, there is a huge loss of carbon arising from the decomposing organic matter and because it would take 13 years before the replanted tree begins to absorb more carbon than its releasing from the decomposition, the net effect is a net loss of carbon when trees are harvested.

 

Why Does Bamboo Release More Oxygen than Trees?

Because of bamboo’s fast growth and replenishment rate (it is the fastest growing plant in the world), it experiences photosynthesis more often than other types of plants. Photosynthesis is the process that transforms light energy into oxygen and glucose.

 

Within the plant cell, the water (H2O) is oxidized (losing electrons) and transforms into oxygen  while the carbon dioxide (CO2) is reduced (gains electrons) and transforms into glucose or sugar that the plant stores for its future use for growth.

 

Some bamboo species, like Thamnocalamus and Sasa Fargesia, need little sunlight but still perform the same photosynthesis process. Because of bamboo’s fast growth rate and its ability to thrive even in partial sunlight or shade, a grove of bamboo can produce 35% more oxygen than trees of the same area.

 

kitchen cooking utensils ecoluxe bamboo sustainable

5 Good Reasons to Replace Plastic Cooking Utensils

Most of us don’t think twice about the kitchen tools we use to cook our food. Because cooking utensils are so accessible and available in many stores, sometimes we choose based on affordability because there is very little that differentiates one set from another. They all typically have the same tools in the tool kit. 

For me, as long as I have a spatula for my eggs, a whisk for stirring pancakes, a ladle for my soup, spaghetti server to drain out my pasta and a spoon to stir solid food, then I often don’t care what the tools are made of – that is until I started seeing pieces of plastic in my food.

For most of us, we make buying choices based on affordability and safety with respect to how they are used with our pots and pans. Would they scratch the surface and damage the pan? Would the cooking utensils burn at high temperatures if left in the cooking pot? Is it hard to clean after use? Do they absorb bacteria? All very good things to consider when buying a set of cooking utensils. 

However, there is something even more important we need to consider when choosing cooking utensils – the raw material it is made of.  Remember, these are the tools that will touch your food which, in turn, you will ingest. So, we shouldn’t overlook the potential health risks posed by the cooking tools  we use.

 

The Dangers of Plastic Cooking Utensils

Plastic cooking utensils are the cheapest types in the market. We unknowingly purchase them because many of us are unaware of the dangers they pose to our health and our environment. Most of the plastic utensils we use are made with polystyrene and when heated, release toxic chemicals that produce all types of health issues and illnesses for humans. In addition, there are a host of other issues posed by plastic products that extend beyond our bodies and into our external environment that affect future generations. Here are the top five reasons why we should eliminate plastic use in our cooking.

 

Reason #1: Plastic Utensils Melt with Persistent Contact with Hot Pots or Pans

Despite the fact that plastic utensils made of polystyrene melts at a high temperature of 100 – 120 degrees celsius or 212 – 248 degrees fahrenheit, they do chip, crack and get brittle with frequent hot pan contact. So, even though you make your best effort not to leave your plastic utensil in constant contact with the hot pan, the frequent short touchpoints on the hot surface will still cause pieces to melt.

 

When they chip and fray, pieces of plastic will end up in your food and will, no doubt, end up in your stomach. Within months of buying a dollar store cooking plastic spatula, you will find that, after repeated use, the tips  begin to melt, fade and fray. Eventually, you will need to replace them.

 

Reason #2: Plastic Utensils have a Shorter Life Span of Usability

As a safety precaution, it’s better to dispose of an overused, chipped plastic cooking tool than to allow them to  contaminate your food  with toxic materials. When you first purchased your cheap plastic cooking set,  you may have saved money in the short term. But, in the long run, you will have to replace them more quickly because using them for an extended period of time will expose you to dangerous doses of plastic material. 

 

In comparison to other types of cooking tools, like stainless steel or bamboo, plastic utensils have a shorter life span. They may last as long as a year if not used frequently, but frequent usage will definitely shorten its lifespan.

kitchen cooking utensils ecoluxe bamboo sustainable

Reason #3: Eating Plastic causes Serious Illnesses

When heated, plastic releases harmful toxic byproducts called oligomers which are formed during plastic production. For years, scientists have warned about the dangers and risks of consistent exposure to plastic products in our kitchens.

 

When plastic pieces are ingested through the food we eat, high doses of these over time can cause serious illnesses including liver and  thyroid diseases, infertility and cancer. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), an independent group of advisors to the German government,  claims that  ingesting as little as 90 micrograms of plastic material from cooking utensils can pose serious health risks like those mentioned above.

 

Black plastic utensils are especially dangerous because not only are they made from computer and electronic parts or e waste that often contain flame retardants like bromine and other heavy metals like lead, cadmium and mercury that affect the nervous and immune system, kidneys, liver and lungs.

 

Reason #4: Plastics can’t be Recycled

Plastic utensils, especially the black ones, are not recyclable because of their color. During the recycling process, the infrared technology that is used to sort plastic can not detect the black color. So, many of the black plastic products are diverted to the landfills, incinerators or end up in our waterways. 

 

Reason #5: Made in China Plastic contain Carcinogens

Plastic additives are necessary in the production of plastic products because these chemicals help produce the right properties that make plastic flexible, durable, water repellent and heat resistant – almost ideal for their cooking purpose.

 

Plastic additives like phthalates are used to make the product more flexible but unfortunately, phthalates are endocrine disruptors that have been linked to causing asthma, developmental disabilities, obesity and breast cancer. To make plastic utensils heat resistant and more durable,  brominated flame retardants are used as additives.

 

Up to 4,000 various plastic additives, such as chlorine, PVC, chromium and antimony can be added during the manufacturing process. One of the main chemicals used in forming plastic is benzene, a known carcinogen. Long term exposure to high levels of benzene can cause leukemia and other cancers. With all these potential hazards is it really worth saving a few bucks to risk your health? 

kitchen cooking utensils ecoluxe bamboo sustainable

What are your options? 

With the high potential for health problems and environmental hazards, we need to replace our plastic man made products with better, more natural alternatives. Bamboo utensils are great alternatives to plastic. They are eco-friendly, organic and healthier for humans. Bamboo is a renewable resource, a carbon sink and 100% biodegradable. Because of its natural, durable and resilient properties, it requires no harmful chemical additives. It may not be the most flexible or versatile tool in the kitchen drawer, but it is still very practical and useful.

 

Unlike stainless steel, bamboo is gentle on the surface of your non-stick pans and will not scratch them. Bamboo is also a low conductor of heat which means you won’t burn your hand if you leave it in your pot while cooking.. Another advantage that bamboo has over stainless steel is its more affordable price.

 

Like stainless steel utensils though, bamboo is durable, hygienic and easy to clean. Bamboo utensils can last a very long time and when you are ready to dispose of them, they will naturally decompose in a matter of months. When choosing your next set of cooking tools, consider buying a bamboo set for your personal health and the environment.