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Tag: sustainable

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.

 

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 ten easy 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.

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. 

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

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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.

plastic food packaging restaurant

Is the Food Delivery Business Polluting Our Planet?

Since the pandemic, we’ve had to adjust our lifestyle, our habits and daily patterns. With the closure of many businesses including restaurants, we could no longer gather to socialize with friends and family. Instead, many of us who still wanted to enjoy dishes from our favourite local restaurants, opted for take out and food delivery.

Many flocked to online food ordering apps like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Ritual, Skip the Dishes, Fantuan and Chow Bus for convenience and access to the wide range of eateries during our quarantine period. 

By April 2020, restaurants saw a shift in their business model. For example, for full-service restaurants, 28% of their sales were generated by food ordering apps by 2020. These same shifts from dine-in to take out, delivery and pick up or drive thrus were experienced by all types of food service including quick service (fast foods). More people ordering take-out or food delivery means more demand for food packaging.

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Why the Shift to Food Delivery? 

For those who shifted from remote working during the pandemic, life just got so much busier balancing work, family and house chores. With school aged kids now doing online education at home and young kids using the home as their daycare and playground, suddenly life is chaotic with no time to eat, clean or even sleep. 

The separation between work and home became blurred and many of us found ourselves working later and longer hours. So, ordering food was a relief, providing more convenience and less cleaning. With all the money saved from staying home, most of us reallocated our budgets to buying food and groceries online or through delivery apps.

More demand for food delivery means more demand for food packaging. Though many restaurants have converted to more eco friendly food packaging and containers recently, some still use plastic and styrofoam. This became a real dilemma for our environment. 

The Price of Convenience 

Plastics production and manufacturing is a $35 billion dollar a year industry in Canada with packaging being one of the 3 major categories showing growth in demand. The hospitality sector which includes hotels, restaurants and resorts, are one of the biggest contributors to single-use plastic waste in our environment. 

In Canada, plastic packaging accounts for almost half of the 3.2 million tonnes thrown out each year. According to a study conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) in 2019, 86% of the plastics consumed end up in landfills and only 9% are recycled. 

food delivery, sustainable, packaging, plastic, restaurantPackaging creates pollution and governments, such as Canada, now consider and classify plastics as “toxic”. According to Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), substances that harm the environment, biodiversity, human health or both are considered toxic and will fall under strict regulations in order to mitigate the externalities it creates on the environment. 

Why is Non-Biodegradable Packaging the Choice? 

The cost of convenience now will most certainly be a price the next generation will pay later. Plastic based food packaging is, indeed, a readily accessible, familiar and relatively cheap material that offers durability and practicality for the hospitality industry. But the harm that these choices make on our environment is multi-generational and far reaching. 

The restaurant industry is composed of many small independently owned restaurants. A good portion are likely family run and owners are not sophisticated business people. They may not even be aware of the consequences of their choices in packaging materials. Restaurateurs are only thinking about their bottomline and how much more profit they can make now with cheaper materials. 

Plastic based materials have been used for decades for food preservation and with this established network of suppliers and distributors, it’s no wonder plastic owns a large market share of the packaging industry. Its popularity and high demand creates economies of scale that reduce the price per unit and perpetually drives even more demand from buyers – the restaurant owners.

Why restaurateurs use plastic over biodegradable materials may also be attributed to the fact that they may not even know of alternatives. They may be choosing the food packaging only based on the limited options presented to them by distributors that knock on their door. These distributors and suppliers may be incentivized to promote sales of certain types of materials that offer higher margins and returns for their business.

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Is Sustainable Packaging The Best Choice?

Sustainable packaging has proven to be just as effective in keeping food warm or fresh as plastic or styrofoam. Just look at pizza boxes. Pizza outlets (including large chains like Dominos and Panago) have been using cardboard boxes, far more earth friendly and biodegradable than plastic containers, to keep pizza warm for food delivery for decades. 

food delivery, sustainable, packaging, plastic, restaurantSo you must wonder why some restaurants continue to use plastic when biodegradable versions do the job of keeping food warm and fresh during the delivery process (refer to the reasons outlined above). Access, cost, lack of education and convenience are factors that drive demand for non sustainable packaging. 

Key Takeaways

As an industry, the switch from plastic to sustainable food packaging has not been quick nor without resistance. Lack of awareness and education about sustainability contribute to the types of decisions being made by restaurateurs. 

Governments are stepping in to curb the demand for single use non recyclable plastic products. But we don’t have to wait for policies and regulations to be implemented before we can start our journey towards zero waste. 

Buyers (like restaurants) and end consumers (like us) have a significant role to play. We create the demand that drives the supply side to produce more. We can tackle the problem from the other side of the equation by demanding less of the bad stuff and more of the sustainable products. We need to be better educated about the impact our choices are making on our environment and educate more people along the way. 

At the end of the day, it is not the delivery companies that are the source of the problem. They are only the intermediaries providing the service from the businesses to the consumers. The source of the problem lies with the restaurant industry. Just as retailers need to pay attention to the materials they are offering their customers, restaurants need to be aware that every plastic container that leaves their restaurant on its way to the customer ends up in the landfill.

Interested in learning more about sustainable packaging? Contact us and we can help you find a sustainable solution for your business or help you find better ways to live sustainably every day.

 

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Are Bamboo Cutting Boards any Good? 

Cutting boards are an essential kitchen tool. A staple product when cooking. You need it to prepare your meat, vegetables, bread, cheese or anything else that requires cutting. Although many have grown accustomed to the convenience of just cutting their bread and vegetables on a counter, it is not sanitary. 

There are many important uses of cutting boards but the most important being sanitary and hygienic reasons. Bacteria and other germs can easily transfer to food when you are not safely preparing your meals. Cutting spaces are a source of bacterial and food borne illnesses. 

There are so many different types of cutting boards in the market. How do you know which one to choose to ensure your choice offers durability, affordability, convenience and effectiveness. The two most common types of cutting boards to compare are plastic versus bamboo cutting boards. 

There are many benefits to both but if you were to make an eco-friendly choice, bamboo, hands-down, the better choice. We’ll look at the comparison between bamboo and plastic cutting boards from various angles and you can decide what works best for you. 

Comparing Bamboo vs Plastic Cutting Boards Material

The first thing to consider when looking at the cutting board is the material it is made of. Bamboo is a fast growing, renewable, durable and eco friendly material. Because it is a grass, it grows with very little maintenance and energy requirements. It is a hardy grass, organic and naturally biodegrades in the environment without the need for further chemicals or effort to break it down. 

Plastic, on the other hand, although it is durable, versatile, accessible and affordable, it is a man-made petroleum based product. It requires the extraction of crude oil from the earth in order to produce the material. It requires vast amounts of energy, non-renewable resources from the earth and chemicals. At the end of its lifecycle, it is not biodegradable taking hundreds of years to break down in our landfills. 

Durability Factor of Bamboo vs Plastic Cutting Boards

When choosing a cutting board, like any other kitchen tool, you want it to last. No doubt, plastic is very durable and this is evidenced by the length of time it takes to biodegrade in nature. Both plastic and bamboo are durable materials. The key difference is that one is organic and the other is a man-made product and pollutes the earth. 

Bamboo is known for its durability. With its tensile strength, it is not easily destroyed with pressure and load. You can assure it will withstand the pressure of cutting all types of food. Bamboo is used in construction including flooring, scaffolding, structure and more. It is dense and durable, easy to clean and natural. 

cutting board, plastic, bamboo, ecofriendlyAffordability of Bamboo vs Plastic Cutting Boards

Depending on the type of cutting board you buy, they can range in price. There are a number of very artistic bamboo boards used both as kitchen decoration and a practical tool. Some bamboo cutting boards are multifunction with drawers to store your cheese cutting knives and other paraphernalia and other products come in packages with 3 or more different sizes. They can come in various sizes, styles and colors. You can spend as little as $4 at a dollar store for effective bamboo cutting boards. 

Equally as affordable, plastic boards are also pretty accessible and affordable. They come in various shapes, styles and colors. Though less aesthetically attractive as a kitchen decor, plastic boards can also be easily found in most department stores, discount stores and kitchen supplies retailers. 

Are Bamboo Cutting Boards More Bacteria Resistant than Plastic ones?

A very important issue to consider when choosing the right cutting board for your kitchen is the health and safety of the tools. Does it have the ability to transfer and absorb bacteria and germs to your food? Cutting boards can be a source of bacteria that causes food borne illness and food poisoning. Many of us have experienced this at one time or another at a restaurant. 

Bamboo cutting boards are dense and non porous. Bamboo also contains a natural anti-bacterial agent called bamboo kun that is effective in eliminating or preventing over 70% of bacteria that attempts to grow on it. Because of its antimicrobial and non porous characteristic, bamboo cutting boards are more bacteria resistant than plastic ones. 

Because of its porous nature, plastic will host bacteria and germs more easily and contribute to contamination and food borne illnesses. It will also absorb more moisture. If you are using plastic boards, you will want to ensure it is sterilized with hot water in the dishwasher and cleaned often.

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Are Bamboo Cutting Boards Higher Maintenance? 

Though bamboo cutting boards will require an application of mineral or coconut oil before first use to seal it and a few more times to keep it in good condition, it is natural, organic and healthy. The conditioning you do to it only adds to the aroma and flavour of your food. 

Plastic on the other hand, is easy to maintain and often dishwasher safe. But the drawback is that because it is porous, it can stain. For example if you cut marinated meat with sundried tomato oil, your plastic board can become discolored. Many will try to remove the stain by bleaching it because simply putting it in the dishwasher is not enough. The stain will infiltrate into the pores. 

Also, because every cut you make on the plastic board creates a scar that may host germs, you will need to be more diligent with scrubbing it thoroughly and not contaminating other kitchen tools with the same cleaning materials. 

bamboo cutting board, sustainable, ecoluxe productWhat are the Environmental Impacts of Plastic vs Bamboo?

As you may already be aware, plastic is non biodegradable. When they make plastic this durable and dense, you can be assured that the material will take hundreds of years to decompose. When they do start to decompose, the microplastics find their way into our ecological system harming many animals, humans and nature. 

Bamboo boards, on the other hand, will completely biodegrade within a matter of months. It’s eco-friendly quality is far reaching. Bamboo farms contribute to creating 30% more oxygen and absorb 50% more carbon dioxide in the earth. Often referred to as carbon sinks, bamboo rapidly sequesters carbon in biomass and soil, taking it out of the air carbon pollution faster than almost any other plant, and can thrive on inhospitable degraded lands requiring no harmful pesticides or fertilizers to grow. 

What Other Considerations are there with Bamboo vs Plastic Cutting Boards? 

Bamboo cutting boards will not get scarred as easily by your knives as plastic boards. They are more gentle and will not dull your knives over time. With plastic boards, if you have been using for a while, you will notice several scars of the years that your knives have made and eventually you will notice the impact it will make on the sharpness of your knives. 

Another important consideration is the impact that micro plastics have on our health as a result of using plastic cutting boards. With each cut you make into your plastic board, small pieces of the plastic can be absorbed by the food you are cutting and eventually make its way into your body. Micro plastics are known to cause cellular changes, genetic mutations, alterations in glandular functions and inhibition of hormones. The monomers that make up plastic are highly carcinogenic and can be traced to causing cancer.

What are the Key Takeaways for Considering the Best Cutting Board? 

Bamboo cutting boards are by far the more eco friendly and safe choice. It is durable, affordable and bacteria-resistant. It is multi-functional, natural and organic, practical and effective. Its environmental impact is positive and it does not cause negative externalities to our ecosystem. 

Perhaps you may think a cutting board is such a trivial choice to make, but many products in the market now have alternative options. Choosing the right one is important for the future of our planet.

 

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Why Bamboo Cutting Boards?

Your cutting board is an important kitchen essential. It’s where your food preparation begins. It’s likely that every household has one but do we know what the impact is of disposing of cutting boards? Many of us don’t think twice about the impact of disposing of housewares. 

Perhaps some of us donate them while others throw them in the garbage only to be piled onto the heaps in the landfills. When we make purchasing decisions, most of us are driven to make buying choices based on budget

If you look at the variety of cutting boards in stores, you will find that plastic ones tend to be up to 40% less than bamboo or wood cutting boards while glass are double the price. Many are attracted to the aesthetics of glass but are they really any good? Why is the bamboo cutting board the best choice in the market? 

Is Glass a Sustainable Resource?

Plastic boards, no doubt, are not the right choice to make when deciding on your most essential kitchen tool – the cutting board. It’s worth looking at other options and alternatives, like glass, in the market so you can feel good about your investment.

Choosing the right material for your cutting activities may sound trivial to many, but if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, it’s a pretty important investment to have just like your set of knives. 

Glass is considered sustainable because it can be 100% recyclable but only if it actually ends up in the right place and not in the landfill. Some may argue that glass is not a sustainable material if you look at the entire product development process of glass.

bamboo cutting board, glass, sustainable, ecoluxe product, ecofriendlyTo make glass requires sand, limestone and soda ash – resources that are non-renewable. Although glass itself can be reused over and over, its birth and end of life process requires a lot of energy to transform it to the material we can use. Also, its end of life requires more energy including human resources to sort and separate glass by color before it is ready for its next life.

Whether you think glass is a sustainable material depends on how you view the process of recycling. But if a finished product is made of non-renewable resources, the way glass is, it may be better than plastic, but still not the best choice for the environment. 

Glass vs Bamboo Cutting Boards

Beyond its sustainable properties, you need to assess glass cutting boards’ practicality and usability. Just as plastic boards have disadvantages, so do glass ones. It has a number of great advantages but the disadvantages far outweigh the benefits it offers. Below is a quick snapshot of the comparison between bamboo and glass boards:

EcoLuxe CuttingBoard Comparison

Why Bamboo is the Best Choice

You may have to spend a bit more money for the sustainable product, but it’s positive impact is worth the investment. Unlike wood boards which are more expensive, heavier and not as renewable, bamboo boards are cheaper alternatives with exceptional qualities that rival those of the classic wood blocks.

Plastic is by far the least environmentally friendly product in the market and can cause health issues because its porous surface hosts bacteria that can lead to foodborne illnesses and diseases. Its disposal is a problem for our ecosystem and its product development is harmful to our environment.

bamboo cutting board, glass, sustainable, ecoluxe product, ecofriendlyGlass can be sustainable and renewable if recycled properly but can you ensure that its end of lifecycle management is done properly? Though it’s attractive, low maintenance and typically anti-bacterial, it’s fragile, heavier, more expensive and has some serious drawbacks like dulling your knife or causing accidental cutting.

Bamboo is by far the smarter choice: it is affordable, anti-bacterial, 100% made of renewable resources, biodegrades in a matter of months, doesn’t dull your knife, attractive and comes in a great variety as a single product or in a bundle. With bamboo made cutting boards, you can find multi-functional designed ones that dub as a centerpiece for your wine and cheese party complete with compartments for your mini serving tools and a simple cutting board for all sorts of dry goods. 

Learn more about the types of sustainable bamboo cutting boards available. 

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EcoLuxe Products, Sustainable, Sustainability, Chanelle Dupre, Plastic waste, Eco-friendly, recycle, packaging, biodegradable

The Movement Towards Zero Plastic Waste

Plastics pose one of the greatest threats to our environment. The chemicals used to produce plastics and the chemicals released are both harmful and have long term effects on humans, the environment and wildlife. Thousands of sea animals, birds and other marine mammals are killed each year after ingesting or getting entangled in plastic waste that we dispose of.

According to Sea Circular, an organization that inspires market-based solutions to solve marine pollution, more than 700 species of marine animals were discovered with traces of plastics in their digestive tracts. 

How Plastics End Up in Our Bodies

It’s a fact that microplastics (1 – 5mm plastic diameter) and nanoplastics (200 nm in diameter) have been found in animals we eat. Microplastics enter an animal through its gills, nose or mouth and ultimately, they end up in our food and our bodies. 

An estimated 4 – 12 million tons of plastics are disposed of in our oceans annually and 94.4% of tap water samples taken in North America were found to contain plastic fibers – the highest in the world. It seems to correlate with our excessive consumerism and our use of plastics in our everyday life.

It is predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastics in the ocean than fish. With that dark outlook, it’s definitely time to recognize the issues and make the right choices.

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Canada’s Commitment to Zero Plastic Waste

Canada has moved towards a ban on single-use plastics particularly those that have alternative substitutes. The country has a commitment to have zero plastic waste by 2030. Every year, Canadians dispose of about 3 million tonnes of plastic waste and only 9% gets recycled.

It’s been reported that Canadians use 15 billion plastic bags annually and close to 57 million plastic straws daily with up to 1% of all plastic waste re-entering the environment. It may not sound like a lot, but if we consider the millions of tonnes of plastic waste and the fact that plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, we should have heaps of concerns about the growth of our landfills. 

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The Alternative Choice to Save the Animals and the Planet

There are alternatives to the plastic version of our household products. Though some may not be perfect substitutes, they are acceptable. Remember, back in the olden days, people did not have the luxuries we have now and yet they managed to survive. Perhaps we need to dial back our greed for more consumption and start reusing, replacing or just go without.

Regulations and new policies will force us to change our habits whether we like it or not. Canada’s ban on single-use plastic has been introduced with a graduated approach. The ban identifies 6 product categories that meet the following criteria: 1) the product is not being effectively recycled and traces of the product have been found in the environment and 2) there are alternatives or substitutes available. 

These products are the first to be phased out. Many businesses and municipalities have followed suit. 

The Alternative Choice to Save the Animals and the Planet There are alternatives to the plastic version of our household products. Though some may not be perfect substitutes, they are acceptable. Remember, back in the olden days, people did not have the luxuries we have now and yet they managed to survive. Perhaps we need to dial back our greed for more consumption and start reusing, replacing or just go without. Regulations and new policies will force us to change our habits whether we like it or not. Canada’s ban on single-use plastic has been introduced with a graduated approach. The ban identifies 6 product categories that meet the following criteria: 1) the product is not being effectively recycled and traces of the product have been found in the environment and 2) there are alternatives or substitutes available. These products are the first to be phased out. Many businesses and municipalities have followed suit.

Bamboo as a Good Alternative for Packaging

As a biodegradable, eco-friendly alternative, bamboo is an ideal solution for many plastic products in the market. To make the biggest and most immediate positive impact on the environment, we prioritize the substitution of packaging materials for more eco-friendly ones.

Restaurants and the hospitality industry are huge contributors in disposing of non-biodegradable plastics. As food delivery services and online ordering become the new norm, the use of packaging has increased exponentially and our landfills are piling up.

Containers, boxes and take away materials do not need to be made of plastic or styrofoam. Other biodegradable, organic materials can be effective replacements of all forms, sizes and types of food packaging and can accommodate keeping food hot or cold for at least one hour. If your food is taking over an hour to deliver, you probably shouldn’t be ordering from that restaurant anyway so think about the choices you are making.

In the same way, disposable plastic stir sticks, straws and cutlery can be functionally replaced with bamboo products. Use bamboo stir sticks instead of plastic ones. Use paper or reusable stainless steel straws and choose biodegradable cutlery instead of plastic ones. 

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Your Actions Contribute to Keeping Climate Change at Bay

Aside from the impact plastics have had on animals and people, they also contribute significantly to climate change. Greenhouse gases are released at every stage of the plastic life cycle: starting from the extraction of fossil fuel and its transport to the facility for production, then onto the plastic manufacturing of it, then to managing plastic waste after its use, and finally, the end-of-life disposal of non recyclable microplastics back into the environment. 

Although we still have a long way to go to reach zero plastic waste, we can start now by consciously making the right choices to use eco-friendly products over plastic ones. 

Learn more about the types of products you can substitute in your home.

 

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EcoLuxe Products, Sustainable, dental, bamboo dental floss, Sustainability, Chanelle Dupre

1 Significant Ecofriendly Impact Dental Industries Can Make Now

The dental industry needs to be aware of the environmental impact they have with distributing plastic vs eco-friendly dental kits.

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5 Reasons why Bamboo is the Perfect Ecofriendly Alternative to Plastic

Bamboo’s ability to grow between 1 – 4 inches per day and be harvested every three years makes it the number one renewable and sustainable resource.