Cofounders in the Kitchen: Haley and Ashley's Plastic Product Swaps
Updated: Jan 28
Costco. Amazon Prime. Bulk subscription services. They're brilliant, right? It used to be that when my husband came home with his Costco haul I would breath a sigh of relief and bask in the abundance of my homemaker miracles. I, too, once had a basement brimming with the riches of bulk paper-towels and the splendor of plastic baggies in every shape and size.
But all of that changed when I learned about the plastic and textile waste produced by one household. The average American household will throw away nearly $5000 worth of stuff annually. That's a staggering number!
• According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 90% of the plastic items in our daily lives are used once and then discarded.
• Somewhere between 5.3 and 14 million tons of plastic waste enters our oceans each year, posing a threat to ecosystems and marine life.
For 2020, we at Shop Tomorrows set new goals for our household product consumption. We've made easy plastic-product swaps that everyone can follow that will save you money. I don't suggest running out and buying these now - wait until you need to replenish, then purchase.
Below you will see images from Haley Lieberman and Ashley Powers, Tomorrows' cofounders, and their easy breezy low-waste kitchen hacks that swap disposable for reusable. Have others to share? Shoot us a note at Haley@Shoptomorrows.com and Ashley@ShopTomorrows.com. We have much to learn from you, dear reader!
Tomorrows' cofounder Haley Lieberman in her kitchen with Stasher bag and cotton dishcloth.
Photo: Klaudia Kotonski
Swap the way you stash.
The first no-brainer is to swap plastic baggies for reusable bags, wraps or glass containers. As a Ziplock replacement, Ashley and I love the reusable silicon variety by Stasher. They're so easy to use, you just throw them in the dishwasher or give them a little rinse when you're done. Bonus: My toddler twins love their fun colors, which means they eat more veggies when they come from their Stashers! Lunchskins are another great option. Perfect for sandwiches and other kids' lunchables, each dishwasher-safe bag can be reused approximately 500 times. The company estimates it has replaced 1 billion single-use plastic bags, according to an article on WholeFoods.com.
Plastic-wrap alternative, beeswax wrap, is a new obsession of mine. I wrap fruit, cheese, cookies or sandwiches in it, and use it to cover my bowls or food containers. Several companies make beeswax wrap, including Bees Wrap, which is made of GOTS-certified organic cotton, sustainably sourced beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. Trader Joes recently started selling it, too, and their colors and patterns are fab! If the wax paper arrives a little stiff, don't despair. Just warm it in your hands for a few seconds, cover, and seal. When it cools, it hardens. While some varieties say you can put them in the top level of the dishwasher, I recommend giving them a wash with a little soap and water for longevity.
Tomorrows' cofounder Haley Lieberman in her kitchen with beeswax wrap. Photo by Haley Lieberman from @Shop_Tomorrows on Instagram.
Switch out grocery bags for totes.
It goes without saying that this practice is becoming mainstream, and plastic-ban bags across towns in the US are cause for celebration. Globally, more than 1 billion bags are used per minute! Ashley has the best collection of these, as you can see below, but the best thing is that there are so many of them out there, you should not have to buy more. Which brings up a good point: These totes bags are not the mother (Earth) of all sustainable hacks. They use plenty of resources, too, and too often companies overproduce them. The majority of the kind that are given away at stores are cotton, which is an incredibly water and pesticide-intensive crop to grow. Stores like Patagonia have "give a bag, take a bag" initiatives to reduce the number of these reusable bags in circulation. Now that's food for thought.
Tomorrow's Cofounder Ashley Powers with her reusable black mesh tote, vintage sweater and high rise low-waste jeans. Photo: Klaudia Kotonski
Absolutely our favorite swap of 2020: Switching out bottled cleaning solution for tablets. “We’re basically shipping water around the country,” says Heather Kauffman of Full Circle. “Water is something we all have readily available at home. If you think about the carbon emissions required to ship bottles largely filled with water from the manufacturer to the retailer and then to the consumer’s home, it really adds up.” Most liquid cleaning supplies are 95% water anyway, so why would you pay shipping on something that you already have at your disposal?
Blueland tablets, photographed by Haley Lieberman in her kitchen.
Enter Blueland. The company's tablets are just $2 each, which is a steal compared to most bottles of cleaning products at around $5 a pop. It's so simple. Just open the plastic-free wrapper - there's "multi-surface," "bathroom," "glass and mirror" - and drop the tablet into a spray bottle. You can use the beautiful bottles they sell on Blueland, or something you already have at home. Similar products are available at Grove Collective and Branch Basics. As soon as my Costco bottles were used up, I rinsed them out, replaced with water, and dropped the tablet in. Boom. Works like a dream.
Tomorrow's Cofounder Ashley Powers sipping from her glam gold metal straw. Photo: Klaudia Kotonski