If you have actually ever wished to cut down on single-use plastics in the kitchen area, you have actually most likely considered purchasing silicone. From treat bags to suction covers, these resilient, vibrant swaps are created to change practical non reusable plastic bags and covers. However recyclable products aren’t automatically more sustainable than single-use plastic.
In truth, when it concerns decreasing your ecological effect, you’re frequently much better off recycling things you currently own instead of purchasing brand-new storage containers and kitchen area tools. Here’s how to get the most out of silicone products and how to make swaps in the house before purchasing brand-new tools and devices.
What to ask before you purchase
How frequently will I utilize this?
” Before you purchase a recyclable alternative, truly make certain it’s something that you’re going to recycle. That’s where you get that net ecological advantage,” stated Jeremy Gregory, a professional in products production, healing systems, and life process evaluation at the MIT Climate & Sustainability Consortium.
When you represent production, delivery, and shipment, single-use plastics produce fairly low emissions compared to reusables, stated Gregory. A silicone product will just have lower carbon emissions than non reusable plastic if you utilize it often times– this holds true for all reusables.
The professionals I consulted with were reluctant to offer specific, break-even numbers, however it is more than you may believe. A 2021 life cycle assessment from the University of Michigan recommends that silicone bags– such as ones from Stasher– might never ever reach a break-even point with the plastic bags they’re implied to change since of the energy and water needed to clean them. That’s particular to be real if you seldom utilize them or purchase multiples that you utilize occasionally, stated Gregory.
Will I like silicone?
If you’re thinking about purchasing a brand-new silicone product, remember that lots of people get frustrated that this product tends to hang on to discolorations and smells, draws in lint and crumbs, and can be annoying to leave a utensil crockery– which might deter you from utilizing the tool often.
Alternatives to silicone
Before dedicating to any brand-new kitchen area tool, think about if you currently own something that can do the task. Here’s a list to get you began.
- Natural parchment paper: This is quickly cut to size and can be recycled a minimum of as soon as when lining cookie sheets. Unless it is really oily, you can likewise recycle or compost it.
- Plastic bags: You can generally squeeze a minimum of another usage out of resealable plastic bags, produce bags, and bread bags if you hand-rinse them (clothespins assist with air-drying). Plastic freezer bags are specifically resilient over several usages.
- Jars: Wash and conserve wide-mouth containers with covers from pickles, olives, chili crisp, nut butter, and so on. (Glass containers can securely enter the dishwashing machine.) You’ll quickly have a series of containers for storage and on-the-go.
- Plates: Supper and salad plates make fantastic covers for bowls. You can even stack numerous sized bowls in this manner to conserve refrigerator area.
- Wood and bamboo spatulas: Wood spoons and spatulas last years, do not scratch nonstick surface areas, and biodegrade quickly without producing possibly hazardous spin-offs.
- Cooking area towels: Expert cooks frequently give up pot holders for cotton kitchen area towels, which, when folded, are heat resistant and multipurpose.
- Multiple-use food containers: If you have actually currently purchased storage containers, you can utilize them for much of the exact same things for which you ‘d utilize resealable plastic bags (or their silicone replacements).
How to utilize silicone tools more sustainably
Often you simply desire that silicone storage bag, baking mat, or bowl cover for the job at hand (specifically if you currently have it in your kitchen area). Utilize it frequently and follow these standards to decrease ecological effect:
Beware with how you clean and utilize it
To decrease energy and water usage, do not clean silicone more than you require to, and when you do, utilize the dishwashing machine, which is more effective than cleaning by hand. The 2021 life cycle assessment from the University of Michigan discovered that it was the energy and water needed to tidy reusables that avoided a few of them from reaching that break-even point with single-use plastics. If you like silicone bags for dry foods like pretzels and crackers, you might have the ability to clean them less, hence decreasing their effect.
Though silicone is technically a plastic polymer, its resilient molecular structure keeps it from shedding microplastics in the manner in which typical plastics do. However it can still disintegrate into little pieces andenter our waterways To keep silicone long lasting as long as possible, take care with it around sharp things, like the blades of a food mill.
Discover a brand-new home for carefully utilized silicone
If you’re all set to eliminate your silicone products and they remain in good condition, think about contributing them. Otherwise, they’re most likely landfill-bound.
Comparable to plastic baggies and stick wrap, silicone usually can’t be recycled in a curbside bin. The exact same residential or commercial properties that make silicone resilient mean it can’t be melted down and remolded like plastic bottles can. Recycling silicone in fact indicates downcycling– grinding and tearing it up for rubber-like applications like play ground surface areas, which will one day wind up in an incinerator or land fill.
This short article was modified by Christine Cyr Clisset and Marilyn Ong.
- Jeremy Gregory, executive director of the MIT Climate & Sustainability Consortium, Massachusetts Institute of Innovation, phone interview, September 18, 2023
- Brooks Abel, assistant teacher of chemistry, University of California Berkeley College of Chemistry, phone interview, September 18, 2023