How you stock your kitchen determines whether or not you are serving up a healthy, green meal or a chemically heavy one. We already know the harmful effects that come with plastic we use, but the products you choose to cook in can be an issue too. Choosing Eco Friendly Cookware will help to reduce your chemical exposure and it also makes the food taste a whole lot better!
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Why Choose Eco Friendly Cookware?
We all love non-stick cookware, it makes cooking easy right? It's a pretty complicated story to unpack, so let's start at the beginning.
What is Teflon?
DuPont uses the word Teflon to describes all of its non-stick cookware. Teflon is made from a chemical know as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), not PFOA.
PFOAs (Perfluorooctanoic acid) were traditionally used in the manufacturing process and after a whole bunch of lawsuits and studies, it was banned because it was contaminating water supplies near manufacturing facilities, not because it's toxic in our cookware.
DuPont was fined over $10 million by the EPA for failures to report information to EPA about the substantial risk of injury to human health or the environment and settled a class-action lawsuit in 2017 for $671 million for leaking PFOA from their plant in West Virginia.
PFOAs are hormone-disrupting, carcinogenic, and once in the environment, it never leaves (persistent environmental toxin).
The Federal Government in Canada has Proposed amendments to the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, I highly recommend you read this.
The bigger health concern for humans is polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is what Teflon is actually made of. PTFE is found in a lot of cheaply made non-stick cookware.
Health Canada notes that polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a specific kind of PFOA can give off poisonous fumes at very high temps. If you are buying titanium, they may contain PTFE, so best to ask or avoid if you are not sure.
I also want you to be wary of labels that say PFOA free, as there is no way of knowing what the replacement chemicals are. The Environmental Working Group found no evidence that PFOA replacement chemicals are much safer.
If you have old pots, pans, baking sheets etc, in your home that are non-stick, you might want to consider replacing them, perhaps one at a time as good ones are certainly an investment. The unfortunate thing with them is you can’t donate them or recycle them as they are considered Household Hazardous Waste, so your only option is the trash, which sucks I know. But that’s the unfortunate reality. Making better choices now will reduce waste in the long run!
If your coating is chipping, it's recommended you dispose of these immediately. I'll talk more about how to choose sustainable cookware at the bottom of this article.
The Best Eco Friendly Cookware
I love cast iron, it's what I use at home to cook and I LOVE TO COOK! Cast Iron offers so many great benefits when it comes to sustainable cookware. Cast Iron is heavy and you have to take care of it, but honestly, you get used to it so quickly. It also gives your food an iron boost which is why I started using mine. Finex offers a griddle, a dutch oven, a grill and a skillet. Ethically made in Portland Oregan this lineup of cast iron is free from toxins and each item is handmade by six craftspeople in the US.
All the raw materials are responsibly sourced and local to the USA keeping the local economy going while proving a safe workplace for their makers.
Cast Iron is expensive, but I can tell you it will last a lifetime. If you take care of it, you will never need to replace it. And that itself makes it one of the best eco friendly cookware options on the market today!
Finex is Vegan and ships to Canada. Each piece is beautifully crafted, you can see so much love was out inro each one. I recommend you grab the cleaning kit too. They are pre-seasoned with organic flaxseed oil. If you choose a cast iron option that is pre-seasoned with soybean oil, ask the manufacturer if the oil is non-GMO.
Our Place makes the most beautiful minimalistic designed pans and dinnerware. I love that they believe "connections are made across the kitchen table", I could not agree more. At $195 the Almost Pan is well worth the investment. This eco friendly non-stick pan will replace 8 traditional pieces of cookware: fry pan, saute pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula, and spoon rest. You can also use it to sear, steam, braise, saute, fry, service and store. The possibilities are endless. It comes in 7 gorgeous colours. Pink, please!
The pan is also well designed from a functional standpoint with a "Nesting beechwood spatula with integrated spoon rest", genius.
It's made without PFOAs, PTFEs, other PFAs, lead, cadmium, toxic metals, and nanoparticles. Comes with a custom stainless steel steamer basket, its lightweight has a pour sprout and works on all cooktops. The pan is coated with a non-toxic, environmentally-friendly ceramic non-stick coating known as sol-gel, which is made primarily from silicon dioxide which is known in the cookware industry as "ceramic non-stick."
Our Place makes thoughtful, ethical kitchen essentials manufactured in factories where the workers are protected and paid a fair wage. The factory, located in China, is owned by a woman who they describe as "a kickass woman, who took over when she married into the family business of three generations." Transparency is key and you can learn about where all of their items are ethically made on their blog.
You can also order a bamboo steamer which is made from FSC-certified, ethically sourced lightweight wood. Ships to Canada, free delivery.
Xtrema is a family-owned company that has over 40 years of experience in the ceramics and glass industry. Find a huge range of environmentally friendly pots and pans, from skillets to saucepans to pots, lids and sets, they have everything you need to cook up a green kitchen.
All of their items are made from ceramic, in this case, it's a combination of clay and water and free from harmful metals traditionally found in ceramic cookware, like lead, metal and cadmium. Their eco friendly ceramic cookware is considered to be one of the best in the world
Before any items leave their facility, they are tested for the presence of heavy metals. It's FDA approved and meets California Prop 65 standards, "certifying that it is free of more than 800 compounds that may cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm."
You don't have to crank up the heat when you cook because the ceramic works with heat induction so you can actually save some energy in the kitchen too. They offer a 10-year warranty and ship to Canada.
If you asked me to pick a favourite on this list, it would be hard. Each of the brands I am chatting about offers a beautiful range of eco cookware and Milo is no exception. At $120 their dutch over is the real deal. It comes in four colours including white which would look so good in any kitchen.
Milo cookware is made ethically with 40% recycled cast iron. It's free from harmful chemicals like PFOA and also meets California Prop 65 standards
The factory where the cookware is manufactured follows the BSCI code of conduct for employee health, safety, and protection from discrimination.
If you are wondering why these are so affable, there is no middleman, items are ship from the factory to you. Love that! Kana the makers of Milo also support 1% for the planet.
Stunning!! I mean look at this kitchen! The Amoretti Brothers take kitchen porn to a whole new level! Each one of their products is a work of art. Founded by a family of four brothers in Turin, Italy, but made in Tlalpujahua in Mexico, they use 100% recycled copper and cast bronze. Each one is hand-forged. Durable and built to last.
50% of the artisan they employ are local women who work in safe conditions and who are paid a fair wage. Their workshop was even built from recycled materials. Find frying pans, woks, roasting pans and pots, these heritage items support the artisans who make them. You can use these on any stove except an induction stovetop.
These are available at Made Trade, one of my favourite ethical online markers place that will offset the impact of shipping by purchasing carbon offsets. They do ship to Canada. The perfect eco friendly cookware set.
There are zero toxins in this non-toxic cookware. Copper will naturally tarnish or darken, which adds to its character in my opinion. You can fix that with a little salt and lemon juice.
You can also choose from different engraving and some pots and pans even have custom flowers as the handle. Bellissimo! I want them all! They are an investment, but they are built to last.
Field Company is based in the US and also offers a really affordable range of eco cast iron cookware. This company was started by two brothers, who named it after their maternal granny. After inheriting a few vintage cast iron pans from Gran. They wanted to make items the way they used to so they started researching everything to do with cast iron.
They wanted to manufacture a pan and skillet that was thin, smooth and has a really good handle. After a ton of trial and error vintage pans with a modern twist was born.
They are all handcrafted in the USA where they have perfected it. They say what each pan gets into own personality depending on what is cooked in it and I have to agree.
You can also grab a seasoning kit, which I think is a good idea. Especially if you are new to cast iron.
Their pots come in five sizes. You can also choose a 5 piece cooking set, which is all you will ever need to make perfect family meals.
Ben's Big Barn is a Canadian shop on Esty where you can find a whole lot of vintage cookware. You know how much I love to shop for thrift items. Owner Benjamin grew up in his dad's vintage shop (that was in an old barn) and fell in love with the concept of discovering treasures. He loves to restore and repurpose old things to make them new again! Love that.
Shopping second-hand is very beneficial for the sustainability of our planet. It means fewer resources are used to make new items and it means we keep a lot of stuff out of landfills. When choosing second-hand cookware, make sure it's cast iron or tempered glass, vintage pyrex is a fantastic option. If the glass is painted it means that lead might be present, so I'd avoid that. But good old tempered glass is fantastic.
Eco Friendly Cookware 101: Cookware and Bakeware
Contains BPA, phthalates or worse all of which can leach into your food when heated. People mostly use plastic for food storage (I hope) don’t heat food in it ever.
Studies have linked higher aluminum levels to health issues ranging from anemia to Parkinson’s. Pans with an aluminum core within cookware made of safer metals (such as stainless steel) are okay. Just don’t let the food touch the aluminum. This is also why I don't recommend cooking with aluminium foil.
Copper pots and pans may contain trace amounts of nickel, which some people can be allergic to. In some cases, the metals can leach into the food. Look for Copper-core cookware.
There are two companies that make unglazed clay pots, Vitaclay and Miriams Earthen Cookware, I’d love to know the actual composition of the clay but that info is “proprietary,” which makes me a little weary.
Enamelled Cast Iron
This is cast iron with a coating, like Lodge & Le Creuset. People tend to like these in place of cast iron because of the iron in "raw" cast iron. But some of the enamelled that is used can contain lead or cadmium, which both can pose a health risk. To be sure look for 3rd party certification like BSCI, SMETA, SEDEX, SA800, ISO9001.
Le Creuset has some good options, but each one of their items varies, so best to ask them before you purchase. The darker the colour the better, there is a lower risk of heavy metal exposure. You can do a lead test if you are worried. But having said that, one dutch oven from them will do the job.
I don't love this option mostly because they are really not built to last. The coating scratches off and you do need to replace them more often. I understand that they are a cheap alternative for some, but this is one area of the home where I recommend making an inevetment.
Green Pan and Lagostina have lead and cadmium free options but they are made in China and I couldn't find any information on either website about the manufacturing process, or whether they are made in a regulated facility. China does have very poor safety standards so it's important for the brand to share this information so we know where it came from and who made it.
A lot of professional chefs use them, they are a lightweight version of cast iron. Lodge offers preseasoned alternatives.
Stainless steel is a pretty good option but the cheaper versions usually mean more nickel is present and if you are cooking acidic foods - like tomatoes- for long periods of time, the nickel can leach into the food.
You can reduce exposure by rotating your cookware and only using stainless steel for foods that have a shorter cooking time. Uniware is a good place to start.
Tempered Glass, is a fantastic option and is also a renewable resource. I use mine mostly in the oven and for some baking.
Other things to consider when shopping for eco friendly cookware:
Replacing all of your pots and pans at once is impossible due to the cost. Start with the ones you use the most and replace those. As long as you have one that is your go-to you will be okay
I also want you to keep in mind that there is zero cookware on the planet that is 100% free from any heavy metals or toxins, it’s just a fact. But you can mitigate your exposure by choosing healthier and more sustainable options, like the suggestions above. For more sustainable brands for your home, check out home decor options and take a peek at the brand directory as well.
What are your go-to cooking must-haves, have you invested in eco friendly cookware? Tell me in the comments below.
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