Alternatives to Plastic

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Excerpted from Remodelista: The Organized Home by Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Matthew Williams.

Remodelistaby Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick (Artisan Books, 2017), is a visual guide to an orderly home. The authors share plenty of easy and inventive storage ideas. This excerpt provides a guide to replacing your plastic home accessories with greener options.

Better Accessories for All Over the House

Plastic may be ubiquitous and affordable, but it’s also an environmental scourge and, according to legions of studies, detrimental to your health. Here are some good alternatives.

Instead of a plastic dish scrubber, opt for a wood-handled brush with natural bristles. Traditional and compostable. Iris Hantverk and Bürstenhaus Redecker are two favorite brands available at Sur La Table and on Amazon.

• Instead of a plastic drying rack, opt for a stainless steel or wooden rack. Plastic components drag down a dish drainer. Go for a metal or bamboo countertop rack or, better yet, a wall-hung metal catchall.
• Instead of synthetic sponges, opt for natural cellulose sponges. These are now for sale at supermarkets. We especially like the ones with loofah “scrubbies” on one side. To sanitize, put through the dishwasher or in the microwave (wet, for one minute).
• Instead of plastic bottles of dish soap and household cleaners, opt for glass dispensers    
• Dish soap can be decanted into just about anything lightweight and pourable — a glass soda bottle with a bar spout, for instance. Of course, unless you make your own, you’ll still have to buy the soap in a plastic bottle.
• Instead of Tupperware-style food storage containers, Opt for Glass refrigerator containers, Mason jars, and stainless steel tiffins   . Glass boxes are our favorite because they’re stackable and you can see their contents. Mason and other canning jars come in a huge range of sizes. For carrying lunch, we recommend Indian stainless steel tiffins.
• Instead of plastic wrap, opt for beeswax-infused cotton wrap, cloth bowl covers, and waxed paper. There are several non-disposable brands of wrap: Bee’s Wrap is one. When airtightness isn’t essential, Ambatalia cloth bowl covers are our pick. We also use plates as bowl and plate toppers.
• Instead of plastic food storage bags, opt for cloth produce bags and glass or metal containers. Etsy, Rodale’s, and Amazon are three good sources.
• Instead of acrylic polypropylene cutting boards, opt for wooden cutting boards. Scrub the wood clean with a paste of baking soda, salt, and water.
• Instead of plastic stirring spoons, opt for classic wooden chef spoons. These are available all over. Thanks to the current artisan renaissance, lovely hand-carved versions are also easy to find.
• Instead of plastic ladles, spatulas, and other basic cooking tools, opt for metal and wooden utensils. Newly popular in recent years, they’re easy to find in cookware shops (or raid your parents’ and grandparents’ drawers).
• Instead of plastic water bottles, opt for stainless steel, titanium, or glass bottles. S’well and Klean Kanteen are but two good brands.
• Instead of plastic trays, opt for wooden or metal trays.
• Instead of a plastic bucket, opt for an enamelware or galvanized tin bucket.
• Instead of plastic clothes hangers, opt for wooden hangers. Ikea and the Container Store both offer multiple affordable choices.
• Instead of plastic clothes storage bins, opt for zippered canvas bags. Find these at Muji and the Laundress, among other sources.
• Instead of plastic garment covers and dry cleaner’s bags, opt for cotton or canvas covers. For chemical-free versions, go to an online source, such as the Butler’s Closet.
• Instead of plastic laundry baskets, opt for wicker, rattan, or canvas laundry baskets. Peterboro Basket Co., the Laundress, and Steele Canvas offer excellent options.
• Instead of plastic bathroom bins and caddies, opt for metal, wire, or canvas baskets. Your bathroom will instantly look better.
• Instead of a plastic toilet brush and container, opt for a wood-handled brush and metal container.
• Instead of plastic document bins, opt for cardboard, wooden, or metal document bins.
• Instead of plastic wastebaskets, opt for metal, wooden, canvas, or woven wastebaskets. Buckets also work well.

More from Remodelista:

Universal Storage Solutions

Excerpted from Remodelista by Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Matthew Williams.