After more than a decade of cramped, urban living, I’ve finally graduated to the big time — and have the kitchen to prove it. Though our apartment in Brooklyn has a handful of attractive features — a backyard complete with multicolored perennial flowers, an old-fashioned bathtub, multiple fireplaces — the spacious kitchen with its center island (finally, room for chopping!), extensive cabinet space and double-sided sink has captured the majority of my love and affection.
I adore my kitchen and its hardwood floors, sun-filled windows and exposed-brick walls so much that my new goal in life is to fill it only with things that are as beautifully — and, in the case of the functioning but lopsided antique stove — as quirkily designed as it is. The items will, of course, also be environmentally aware.
My local eco-style emporium, 3R Living — those not in Brooklyn or New Jersey can check them out online — is overflowing with gear for the modern green kitchen. So that’s where I will turn first. I can picture the bike-chain bottle opener playing a starring role in my summer barbecues — I see my friends opening their beers with this grease-free piece of recycled bike chain and feeling especially good about themselves as they do so.
I can also imagine 3R’s Edward Salad Hands taking residence in my new kitchen, mostly because I want an excuse to ask, “Can you please pass the Edward Salad Hands?”, but also because they seem to be the most practical way to toss and serve a pile of greens and because they’re made from an eco-friendly pressed bamboo fiber called notreeinum.
I plan to host quite a few parties in my bright new kitchen, and while I understand that using my ceramic dishware is probably the best way to be an environmentally aware hostess, sometimes my guest list will be larger than the number of dishes I own. When this happens I must turn to a backup supply. The Styrofoam, paper or plastic disposable plates of my youth are definitely not the answer.
Enter one of my all-time favorite companies, Recycline. Recycline’s plates, tumblers and cutlery are made from 100 percent recycled plastic, can be used over and over (they’re dishwasher safe) and can be recycled when they’ve come to the end of their useful life. Bambu’s Veneerware is another disposable option that will surely make an appearance at my gatherings. The sleek plates, utensils and trays look especially sophisticated when piled high with food, and they biodegrade in four to six months after disposal.
As the mother of a 13-month-old boy who thinks banana is an excellent hair gel as well as an effective furniture polish, I’m on a constant quest for place mats that will protect my poor kitchen table. CB2’s speckled mats are made from kid-appropriate recycled milk and juice cartons and at $6.95 each are an undeniable steal. For something a little fancier, check out the Napkin Catch Placemat at Branch — each mat comes with a built-in napkin holder — made from recycled rubber.
Along with all that banana spreading, there will also be plenty of wine drinking in my new kitchen, and I plan to do it in high, recycled style starting with a set of Uncommon Goods’ stem-free recycled windshield glasses (tinted that lovely windshield green). For a more delicate glass, I’ll turn to VivaTerra’s set of recycled glasses.
Finally, my new kitchen will be complete with re:modern’s Transglass carafe made from recycled wine bottles — there really is no more elegant, contemporary way to serve a beverage — and VivaTerra’s recycled glass balloon vases, from which spring flowers will droop daintily as they perch on a windowsill in my favorite room in the house. Marisa Belger is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience covering health and wellness. She was a founding editor of Lime.com, a multiplatform media company specializing in health, wellness and sustainable living. Marisa also collaborated with Josh Dorfman on “The Lazy Environmentalist” (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang), a comprehensive guide to easy, stylish green living.
Please note: Neither Marisa Belger nor TODAYshow.com has been compensated by the manufacturers or their representatives for her comments or selection of products reviewed in this column.