When you think about how many products you have in your kitchen, you start to realize just how much “stuff” we all have! From pots, pans and bakeware to storage containers and cups, the average kitchen houses hundreds of individual items. Now if you think about what these are all made of, most of our cookware is stainless steel and almost all of our storage containers are likely to be plastic. This is due to the huge increase in plastic production over the last few decades and therefore how cheap it has become to purchase.
However, plastic may not be the safest option for storing our food. Plastic can contain harmful chemicals which can leak into the food we’re consuming. Scary thought, right?
Don’t despair yet! There is an alternative that is 100% safe to use with no chance of contamination to our food. That’s right, I’m talking about good ol’ fashioned glass!
Glass is a natural material made up of soda ash, limestone, sand and cullet (scraps of glass), meaning it is 100% recyclable and doesn’t biodegrade or decline in quality. The reason glass is preferred by many over plastic for food storage is because it’s an inert material that is non-porous therefore it won’t leak any chemicals or smells into your food.
I’m a big fan of lists; to-do lists, shopping lists and my personal favorite when trying to make a decision about something…a pros and cons list. My pros and cons list for whether I should make the switch to glass containers had a lengthy pros side; good for the environment, can be used for cooking, refrigerating, microwaving and serving, is strong, doesn’t contain any nasty chemicals…the list went on. However, there was a glaring con that I couldn’t ignore; price. Glass containers are more expensive than their plastic counterparts; however, there are some deals to be had! And glass will last a lot longer than plastic (unless you’re particularly clumsy of course…)
Let’s take a look at some kitchen products you can substitute for glass alternatives and how you can do it without breaking the bank.
Glass Storage Containers
Let’s start with the obvious; glass storage containers. Replacing your current plastic containers with glass alternatives boasts a bunch of benefits. For one, your food will be safe and not contaminated! But also, glass is extremely versatile. If you’re anything like me, you will never make the correct amount of dinner and will usually have leftovers stored in the fridge for the next few days. Glass is great because it can be refrigerated, but it can also be put in the microwave and even the oven to re-heat the next day.
If you’re worried about price, don’t be. A lot of amazing brands have noticed the increase demand for glass containers and have therefore rushed to our aid with some great deals on container bundles. GlassLock, for example, has a very reasonable glass storage container set available. It contains 18-pieces and can be bought for under $50! All of the items in the set have lids so you can even cook your food directly in them, wait for it to cool and then just pop the lid on and put it in your fridge for later!
Glass cookware is also a great investment. Glass is particularly great for cooking savory food like pies, lasagna, casserole and pasta bakes. Mmmmm…pasta bake. Because glass is nonporous it’s very easy to clean when compared to a stainless-steel pan, for example. Of course, some pans have a nifty non-stick coating on them nowadays but that again brings up the question of chemicals in our food.
You may think that glass in cookware is reserved for casserole dishes, but you would be wrong! Visions is a great brand that uses a pioneering ceramic material and glass lid for their Diamond cookware range. Both ceramic and glass are non-toxic and can be used on a range top, in the oven, microwave, for serving, refrigerating and can be put in the dishwasher!
Glass Storage for Your Pantry
There are so many instances where you don’t use up all of something and want to store the rest in your cupboard or pantry and there’s no better way to keep things fresh than glass (just make sure you get glass storage containers with a tight seal to keep out moisture). The classic mason jar would be ideal for dozens of applications! Now, you can go for the real deal if you want the official, Mason stamp on your jars, however, if you’re concerned about your budget there are TONS of alternatives at much more reasonable prices out there.
To give you some ideas of what you could use glass jars for in your pantry, here’s a list! Pasta, rice, quinoa, spices, jam, cereal, oats, flour, sugar, nuts, lentils, snacks like pretzels or candy. The list really is endless and the use of mason jars for storage does not have to stop at your kitchen. Just type in “mason jar organization” into Pinterest and you’ll see!
Swap Your Plastic Cups for Glass
Okay, most of us will of course use glasses made of glass anyway, however the issue arises when we think of children. In most homes kids will use plastic cups because they’re lighter and less likely to break if (when) they’re dropped. Although this makes sense, plastic isn’t the safest material for your child to be drinking out of and therefore glass should be considered.
There are a lot of glasses made using reinforced or “safety” glass that when broken, break into smaller, non-sharp pieces that are less likely to cause an injury. However, there is a better solution. Some companies, including LifeFactory, are producing glasses with a non-slip silicone sleeve to help grip onto surfaces and make it easier for those little hands to keep a hold of the glass! Genius, right? They’re not the cheapest purchase around however, with a 4-pack costing around $35. Alternatively, you can purchase just the silicone sleeves for around $25 for 6 and pop them on your current glasses at home (permitting they fit of course)!
One of the main conveniences of plastic is that we can grab it and go, especially when it comes to travel mugs and water bottles. Lucky for those who are trying to stop using so much plastic, a lot of companies have started to produce budget friendly glass bottles. LifeFactory produce glass water bottles that also have silicone sleeves the same as their regular glasses. For a cheaper alternative though, you can go for a lesser known brand or a multipack.
Personally, I’m not much of a water drinker, which I know is bad, but my favorite sound in the morning is the whir of the coffee machine as freshly brewed coffee is made. Most mornings, however, I am inevitably running late and have to grab a travel mug for my morning coffee fix. Once I realized the benefits of glass over other materials I looked into glass travel mugs as I wasn’t sure they were even available. I was pleasantly surprised! My personal favorite brand is KeepCup because of their variety. They’ve got big, small, black, pink, yellow, clear and opaque options to name a few! They’re usually between $15 and $20 a cup depending on the size you go for which I don’t think is too bad!
And there you have 5 easy ways you can convert from plastic to glass in your home without breaking the bank.
It’s not just me who has decided to do my bit for the environment and convert to using more glass. There’s a campaign run by A Plastic Planet which calls for supermarkets to introduce a completely plastic-free aisle! It’s gained a lot of traction recently and although it’s a UK based project, there are a lot of global organizations with the same view point, such as the Plastic Pollution Coalition. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out this article from Greenpeace about how a group of 19,000 people in Taiwan are already living a completely plastic-free lifestyle.
No matter how far along you are in reducing your plastic consumption, there are hundreds of ways you can make a difference. If you need help looking for glass kitchen products, check out TopProducts and their dozens of reviews.
Daisy Hubbuck, TopProducts Staff Writer