Monday, April 13, 2015

How to Have a Plastic-Free Kitchen with Kids

In a continuation of my resolution to reduce plastic usage this year, here are some tips to having a plastic-free kitchen... even with kids. Yes, this is completely possible and, No, we haven't had a little one go the the hospital (yet... knock on wood!) due to a laceration from broken glass. One-hundred years ago they didn't have plastic in the kitchen, and yet, I can't recall my grandparents, or parents for that matter, relaying any horrifying stories about child maiming due to glass dinnerware. Now, I'm not saying to serve your toddler lunch on Great Aunt Alice's china but there a couple of ways to go about this in a kid-friendly fashion. It's important to note that using less plastic is not only fantastic for this planet but it also greatly reduces the amount of BPA, phthalates and PVC that leaches into your childrens' food and drinks. (You can find out why plastic sucks here.)


Glass jelly jars (upper right hand corner of the photo): When I was growing up, whenever we went to either one of my grandparents house, we kids drank out of glass jelly jars. They are the perfect size for little hands and made of thick glass- so unless you are whipping these at a brick wall, they are pretty sturdy even when dropped. When my son was graduating to big kid cups, I found six of these at the local GoodWill store for forty-nine cents each. We haven't had one break in all the years we have been using them, but even if one did- who cares, it was forty-nine cents!

Ikea glass bowls and plates: At a dollar a piece, again, it is not going to be heart breaking if a kid drops and breaks one. Coincidentally, after years of using these dishes only one bowl and one plate have been broken. The plate because I decided to reheat my lunch on it in the toaster oven (not one of my more intelligent moments) and the bowl because it accidentally slipped out of my 14 year-old's hands as she was rinsing it in the sink. The 8 and 2 year old haven't broken one yet- go figure. On a important side note: because these are clear glass and do not have a protective glaze, you do not have to worry about lead or cadmium leaching into the food which is a possibility with ceramic and porcelain dinnerware.

Oneida Toddler Flatware:  At about $25 per six piece set this is more of an investment. This is a great item to put on the baby registry. We have one set for Poppy and I still have a couple of pieces from my set when I was little, so it makes great heirloom pieces as well. Plastic toddler forks, especially, are useless. They simply are not made to pierce food. The stainless steel flatware (in my humble opinion) is more efficient in teaching children the skills needed to eat with utensils. Though we haven't used these ourselves, Ikea has a stainless steel children set that includes a spoon, fork and knife for a bargain at $5.

Thrift store saucers (in between the clear glass bowl and plate in the above photo): Up until Poppy was two we just put her food right on the wood highchair tray. Now that she is using utensils, we serve her meals on little saucer plates from an old tea set of mine. Thrift stores are a gold mine for these plates. With firm but kind direction, she knows that the plate stays on her highchair tray while she is eating. When she is finished eating, she lifts the plate with both hands, says "no" and passes the plate to me. No thrown plates...yet!


Thermos brand food jars: These can be found at any Target store and are indispensable for a warm packed lunch. My older kids use the food jars for soup and keeping reheated leftovers warm for school lunches. If you work in an office this is a great way for a hot lunch without having to use the health-zapping microwave.

Norpor Silicone Ice Pop Mold: From smoothies to applesauce, these molds are a lunchtime favorite with my kids. I love them because they cut down on the countless individual packing of single serve lunch items ubiquitous in today's school lunches.

Stainless Steel Water bottles: It is great to see just as many stainless steel water bottles on the store shelves as plastic nowadays. You may have to pay a little bit more for the stainless steel but even if you purchase a BPA-free plastic bottle, you are still dealing with phthalates and PVC that can and will leach into the water being stored in it.

Reusable sandwich and snack bags: At $14 for a set of three, this is a slow-to-build collection for us but well worth the wait! The amount of plastic sandwich bags getting thrown out everyday in school lunch rooms is staggering.


Gerber glass baby bottles (pictured below): These can be found at any chain box store and go for $9 for a set of three, which for glass baby bottles are a steal! We used these for Poppy's first year and loved them- never had one break either!

Ikea coffee spoons: Once baby starts solids, you can go through a lot of baby spoons. The Oneida baby spoons were too expensive to stock up on so we used Ikea's coffee spoons (pictured crossing in the bottom right-hand side of the photo above). At $5 for a six pack, it was an economic way to have plenty of baby spoons on hand without breaking the bank. It looks like Ikea changed their design (from the link above) from two years ago but any stainless steel coffee or espresso spoons make great baby spoons.

Small ceramic bowls: These can be found anywhere and are great for baby's first cereal and other soft foods. Since you are the one holding the bowl to feed baby there are no safety issues from dropped dishes or from chemicals leaching from plastic bowls.

Stainless steel sippy cup: We bought the Thermos brand sippy cup from Meijer for $10 but they are at any big box store. Since Poppy only drinks water in this sippy cup, it just gets rinsed out well every night and washed out every few days. The screw on lid is plastic but the straw and spout are made from silicone.

Big brother, Kaleb, helping to feed Poppy out of her Gerber glass baby bottle.

With just a few changes and some thrift store finds, your kitchen can be child-friendly and plastic-free. Not only is this healthier for your child and planet, it is teaching your children valuable lessons and setting up habits that will last a life time. You might find going plastic-free is a whole new freedom in itself.

Linked with the Simply Natural Saturdays blog series.

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