cooks' essentials
SAVE THE PLANET

Earth-friendly products for storing, growing, and cheating on the go

WRITTEN BY SANDRA MACIAS

The topic of the day is cutting back on nonbiodegradable products, such as switching to innovative, eco-friendly, plastic-free products to wrap and store food and ditching single-use plastic. These products are popping up everywhere, from a local company that has made it a serious mission to promote plastic-free alternatives to a novel in-home water garden fish tank you can buy online. Here are some of our favorite earth-friendly finds for your kitchen.

Buzz on beeswax

Food wraps made of beeswax, organic cotton, herbal oil, and tree resin, such as these Etee wraps, are gaining attention. Sold in a packet of three wraps (small, medium, and large), they work wonders. Warm the wrap in your hands to make pliable (or wet in warm water), then wrap food — cheese, half a lemon, avocado, bread, or anything perishable except raw meat or poultry. They also are handy to cover food containers’ lids. Hand washable and reusable, their life span ranges from four months to a year depending on use and care. When you’re done, throw them out — they’re biodegradable. Find Etee and other eco-friendly wraps locally at Natural Grocers, Great Basin Community Food Co-op, and Trader Joe’s in Reno, or online at Etee.com, Beeswrap.com, and Amazon.com.

Etee03

A bag among bags

Stasher, thy name is versatility. Made of pure platinum silicone, Stasher bags come in earth-stone shades, and when empty they are space savers — each as thin as your wallet before payday. These eco-friendly containers are washable, durable, and temperature resistant; you can microwave, sous vide, freeze, and store food in the bag. They’re available in small, medium, and half-gallon sizes, the latter being perfect for popping old-fashioned popcorn kernels (and healthier, too). Look for Stasher bags at Great Basin Community Food Co-op, Whole Foods, and Natural Grocers in Reno, or online at Stasherbag.com, Amazon.com, and Target.com.

Stasher frozen fruit

Mesh on the march

Adopt environment-friendly produce bags for your fruits and vegetables, a save-the-planet substitute for plastic. Made of polyester, nylon, or hemp, they are reusable, portable, durable, foldable, and washable, and they come in different sizes. Two popular brands, Earthwise and Simple Ecology, are available online (Earthwise.com, Simpleecology.com, Amazon.com, and Walmart.com). Locally, you can find eco-friendly produce bags at Reno-Tahoe Sprouts stores and Great Basin Community Food Co-op and Natural Grocers in Reno.

Simple Ecology Mesh Radishes S

Filling the gap

Welcome to Black Rock Refill, a local company offering sustainable alternatives to plastic products, plus a recycling program that accepts specific brand items. Its online shop showcases cool, planet-safe stuff: produce bags, beeswax wrap, biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes, iPhone covers, to-go doggie water bowls, and much more. All are reasonably priced and delivery is free to Reno and Tahoe residents. Shop online or drop by Black Rock Refill’s booth at the Riverside Farmers’ Market at the McKinley Arts Center, 925 Riverside Drive in Reno, 9 a.m. – noon Sat. through May; 4 – 8 p.m. Thurs. June – Sept. Black Rock Refill also has a presence on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. The Campus Refill Initiative is located at the Nevada Wolf Shop in the Joe Crowley Student Union and on the first floor of Great Basin Hall. For details, visit Blackrockrefill.com.

Black Rock Refill St3pbl 4

How does your garden grow?

Splendidly, with a water-garden fish tank for green thumbs (or even non-green ones). The aquaponic fish tank from Back to the Roots circulates fish water into a tray of microgreen seeds above the tank. The fish-waste water fertilizes the microgreens above, and the plants, in turn, clean the water below. The kit has everything you need but the fish. Still, no problem. A coupon for a betta fish is included. A mushroom-growing kit from Back to the Roots is another easy indoor gardening project. Pearl oyster mushrooms grow in the box they come in. How hard is that? For details and instructive videos, visit Backtotheroots.com.

Back to the Roots Watergarden038

Doing her part in the plastic-free movement, food writer Sandra Macias’ car is stocked with reusable bags for produce and sturdy cotton totes for groceries. She has exchanged her plastic food storage containers for glass or nonplastic ones. Baby steps, yes. But if enough folks join in, it becomes an assembly, then a crowd, and finally a mass movement. Then, change will come.

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