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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.

Bamboo Plastic Utensil Disposable Cutlery EcoFriendly

Disposable Plastic Utensils Can’t be Recycled

It’s everywhere – plastic utensils! They are cheap to produce, convenient to use, and accessible everywhere. In restaurants, cafes, eateries and grocery stores, plastic disposable single-use cutlery are distributed to you with your take out food. We happily accept them because many of us have been misled to believe that disposable plastic utensils can be recycled. 

Every year, more than 100 million pieces of plastic utensils (spoons, forks, knives) are used and disposed of in landfills by Americans every day. These plastics take thousands of years to decompose and they are not recyclable. 

Why Plastic Cutlery Are Not Recyclable

One reason plastic utensils can’t be recycled is because they are too small and their shape is inconsistent making them difficult to be sorted by the recycling facilities. The second reason is that plastic utensils are made with different plastic types including plastic #1, #5, #6 or bioplastics which are not universally recyclable.

Plastic 5 is made of polypropylene (pp) – a tough, lightweight material with high heat resistance that is often used to make containers for yogurt, sour cream, straws and margarine. Plastic 5 is petroleum derived but it is considered by the EPA to be a safer plastic choice than many others in the market.

It’s glossy finish when used as plastic utensils make it grease resistant and easy to clean. Although some curbside local recycling facilities will accept plastic 5 containers, utensils are far too small to recycle so they are tossed into the garbage.

Plastic Utensil Disposable Cutlery

Plastic 6 is made of polystyrene (ps) – an inexpensive, lightweight and sturdy plastic with many purposes and uses. Aside from plastic cutlery, polystyrene is commonly used for take out containers, egg cartons, peanut foam chips for packing and disposable cups and plates. 

Because polystyrene is structurally weak and ultra-lightweight, it breaks up easily and disperses throughout the natural environment. Products made of polystyrene may leach styrene, a toxic human carcinogen, into food products when heated in a microwave and eventually ingested by humans.

Recycling is not widely available for polystyrene products. Because most curbside collection services will not accept polystyrene, this material accounts for about 35% of US landfill contributing to the growing waste pollution.

In addition to its impact on landfills, plastic manufacturing utilizes a large amount of power and petroleum which, through its extraction process, releases gases and chemical byproducts harmful to people and our environment.

 

So Why Do Businesses Still Distribute Plastic Utensil

With all the plastic waste that is polluting our environment and affecting our health, why do businesses still distribute plastic cutlery? 

Because of the attractive properties of plastic – durable, lightweight, easy to store, accessible and inexpensive, they are the preferred choice for many businesses in the hospitality sector. They are functional, practical and versatile. 

Plastic is easy to produce and widely available. By achieving economies of scale, the cost of plastic per unit is very affordable and allows businesses to keep their costs down. 

Many business owners continue to distribute plastic utensils because they have been misled to believe that they are recyclable. While some simply are not aware of the environmental impact they have on the planet. 

 

EcoFriendly Bamboo Cutlery as the Ideal Alternative

There are other options and materials available as an alternative to plastics. One of the best eco-friendly materials is bamboo. It is fast growing, durable with tensile strength, versatile and most of all biodegrades within months. 

Without all the toxicity that plastics emit, its organic, antibacterial nature makes it a safe hygienic alternative to plastics. Because of its natural fibres, utensils made of bamboo are typically not uniform in color and consistency. They are, however, durable, lightweight and recyclable – characteristics that are desirable for utensils.

Bamboo Plastic Utensil Disposable Cutlery EcoFriendly

Disposing of bamboo cutlery should not make one feel guilty. Bamboo is a natural fiber that you can compost. Later in the composting stage fungi break down the lignin that’s in bamboo into less complicated elements which can then be broken down by bacteria. From leaves to stem, 100% of the bamboo can all be composted within 2 months or up to 4 years depending on the soil conditions.

Unlike plastic, bamboo does not derive from petroleum and doesn’t require a large amount of power and nonrenewable resources for its production. Though it may dry out if put in extreme heat (like a microwave), it does not emit toxic carcinogens and is safer for your body. 

 

Make EcoFriendly Choices with Bamboo Disposable Cutlery

Bamboo Plastic Utensil Disposable Cutlery EcoFriendly

While governments begin to ban single use plastics all over the world, we can still do our part in helping with the transition to less plastic waste in the environment.

What We Can Do

  • We can decline to accept plastic utensils given to us by restaurants when we order take out
  • When buying utensils at the grocery store, we can choose biodegradable ones
  • We can also choose to use silverware at home 
  • We can buy reusable bamboo utensils that can be used for the next picnic, travel or outdoor adventure

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What Businesses Can Do

  • Consider alternatives to plastic cutlery by purchasing bamboo disposable cutlery
  • Do not freely distribute plastic utensils for your take out customers
  • Start to offer bamboo utensils instead of plastic ones at grocery stores

Start making the switch and replace your plastic utensils with more biodegradable bamboo cutlery for your next outing.

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