5 Tips on Choosing Eco-Friendly & Cook-Friendly Pots, Pans, and Cookware Sets
Our choice of cookware affects the quality of our food. But did you know that your pots and pans are a contributing factor to the planet’s health, as well?
There are many eco-friendly options in the market that are “healthy” and “green”, but if you dig deeper, you will find that with most of them, the “green” and “healthy” aspects go only as deep as the marketing!
For example, you may find cookware made from stainless steel or aluminum marketed as “eco-friendly”, but did you know the global steel industry’s emitted 3.7 gigatons of CO2 in 2019 alone? On top of that, Aluminum production generates around 1.1 billion tons of CO2 per year! There are thousands of tons of other toxic gases, liquids, and solid waste produced annually; and a vast portion of these metals are used to make pots, pans, and other kitchenware.
To help contribute to protecting and conserving our environment, we created an environmentally-friendly cookware line that strives to be eco-friendly in every aspect: from production, to usage, to disposal. Miriam’s Earthen Cookware (MEC) – a pioneering US-based cookware brand makes eco-friendly cookware from 100% all-natural & non-toxic primary clay.
In light of all the disheartening information surrounding cookware’s impact on the environment, here are 5 candid tips to help you evaluate cookware for their eco-friendliness, while still being cook-friendly and easy to use. While reading these tips, you will see how Miriam’s Earthen Cookware goes above and beyond with its green cookware sets.
Tip #1: For Truly Eco-Friendly Cookware, Start at the Raw Material:
When you start with choosing the right raw material, you are at the foundation of what makes something good or bad. Cookware made from metals, regardless of what they are coated with, are not truly eco-friendly, because of the following reasons:
- Metal mining requires immense deforestation to acquire the raw material.
- Many chemical toxins are used in their mining and processing, and then toxic waste is released from the manufacturing process.
- Lastly, millions of tons of energy is used in the manufacturing and transportation of these refined goods (with most of them being made overseas).
Another popular choice for raw material with cookware is ceramic, or porcelain. This material has gained popularity in making toilets, countertops, pots and pans, and more; but is it really eco-friendly?
Although branded as “clay” because of its elastic nature resembling natural clay, ceramics and porcelain usually contain over 200 different chemicals and oxides. A simple search for “ceramic raw materials dictionary” can show you a comprehensive list, or you can view the list here. Many of these elements are obtained through fracking, and the production process also produces thousands of tons of tailing- the largest being lead and arsenic- into rivers, oceans, and open lands.
In sharp contrast: Miriam’s Earthen Cookware makes eco-friendly cookware from natural primary clay. This is a raw material that is renewable (meaning the earth is constantly making it – we will never run out of clay!), and this material is created on the surface of the earth by the combination of soil, air, and water.
Tip #2: Look at the Finishing/Coating, is it Earth-Friendly?:
After the raw material, the next layer of materials is the pot’s coating. These coatings focus on making the pot look attractive, and they are also meant to help make them non-stick and easy to clean. However, these harm us and the planet more than we could account for.
For example, take the common material used in coatings like Teflon (that came from the atomic bomb into our kitchens) or its variations: PTFE, PFOA and ceramic glazes. All of these are reactive and leach toxins while cooking. They also release toxic off-gassing into the environment. The chemicals in these coatings include elements that you would never want near you: lead, cadmium, or the 4,700 plus chemicals in the PFAs class. But because they are packaged so well, we dare to trust our food with it!
On top of that, there are always new variations with new names showing up that use the same pool of poisonous chemicals!
MEC, on the other hand, includes no coating surface whatsoever. They are fully finished by smoothing the clay down firmly. Due to the way they are made, these pots made from natural clay come with natural non-stick properties and become completely non-stick in just a few uses.
Tip #3: How Eco-friendly is it During Use (While Still Being Convenient)?:
Metals and ceramics are materials that heat and cool at the same time. This means food needs to cook at a higher setting when using them, consuming more energy and wasteful resources. Fired primary clay, on the other hand, is an excellent retainer of heat, so it needs much less energy to accomplish cooking in about the same time. Also, food stays warm for 5-6 hours after cooking for this same reason.
Cookware made from materials like carbon steel, Teflon (often used in non-stick coatings), enameled cast iron and the likes are known to cause indoor air pollution by releasing toxic fumes. MEC’s healthy cookware is 100% inert and so it does not produce any off-gassing. This is another quality that backs MEC as a truly eco-friendly cookware.
If you try to solve the issues described above by looking for other conventional alternatives, you may end up sacrificing on use convenience. Convenience is what most cooks look for while choosing a cookware piece. Cooking a recipe in conventional cooking pots generally involves cooking different ingredients separately before adding them all into one pot. The stickiness with metals or pots with “worn-out” coating calls for constant supervision while cooking in these pots.
MEC pots cook with unique far infrared heat that makes cooking fast and convenient. It distributes evenly throughout the pot, penetrates deep into food and cooks each ingredient thoroughly. This feature allows you to add all ingredients at once, cover the lid and let cook until fully done — a straightforward and convenient method to cooking.
On top of that, you don’t even need to keep the heat on for the whole cooking process! Food passively cooks with the heat retention capability of MEC: once a meal is about 3/4 done, you can turn the stove off and let the meal finish cooking without heat. This saves both energy costs and the environment!
Tip #4: How About the Transportation, Where are They Coming From?:
Conventional cookware creates an immense carbon footprint with its shipping and transportation. This is because most of them are imported from overseas after production in another country. Even before production, parts (or all) of their raw materials travel across the ocean to different manufacturing plants. Traveling thousands of miles in giant ships release large amounts of waste, and they cause extensive damage to the oceans and marine life. Did you know that more than 75 different species of marine life are frequent victims of ship collisions? Large ships harm marine life both large and small with just their movement alone – imagine how much more damage they do with their toxic pollution.
MEC is distinct in this aspect also, it is an all-American brand made in USA from locally sourced raw material. All of its sourcing, production, and manufacturing occurs in the same general area, cutting down on environmentally-costly shipping.
Moreover, they only use biodegradable packaging material and all their packages ship ‘carbon neutral’ at no additional cost to the customers.
Tip #5: Choose a Cookware That is “Green” Even After its Useful Lifecycle:
Disposing metals (stainless steel, cast iron, aluminum pots and pans) safely is a challenge the whole world is struggling with. With metal in junkyards piling so high, it is impossible for them to break down. In contrast, MEC pots are made to last forever. And after years of their useful lifecycle as cooking pots, you can reuse them for storing food, sprouting, micro-gardening, and fermenting. When they are finally disposed of, they decompose and go back to the same earth they originally came from, without causing pollution.
MEC properly and carefully addresses all these eco-friendly tips to ensure that its cookware sets are as safe for the environment as possible, without making your life harder in the kitchen (in fact, it is easier!). With all these incredible boons supporting our ecosystem, buying MEC is the next logical step in conserving our beautiful planet. Head over to MEC Store and order a pot today!
PEOPLE ALSO ASK: Is Ceramic Cookware Eco-Friendly?
The ceramic body of cookware is made of 4-7% natural clay and the rest is a composition of different inorganic oxides and chemicals. These elements are obtained by fracking and their processing releases thousands of tons of tailings or toxic waste into the air, water, and soil.
While in use, they need higher amounts of heat compared to pots made from natural clay like MEC, and they don’t decompose after disposal. In fact, they can be toxic to the place they are disposed at!
For all these reasons, ceramic cookware is not truly eco-friendly.
PEOPLE ALSO ASK: What is the Greenest Cookware?
The “greenest” cookware is one made from an all-natural, renewable raw material. It should not be harmful to the environment in any stage of its life.
Miriam’s Earthen Cookware are pots & pans and kitchenware made from lab tested, 100% pure & primary clay (all natural & renewable). They are made without any additives, and are not harmful to the planet in making, use, or even after their lifecycle.
PEOPLE ALSO ASK: Are Non-Stick Pans Eco-Friendly?
Conventional non-stick pans are coated with toxic materials like Teflon, PFOA, and PTFE. Roland Weber, an environmental consultant with the United Nations, describes them as “one of the most threatening chemicals ever invented”. Such pans negatively impact the environment in both production and household use because of the toxic off-gassing caused by these chemicals when heated. Needless to say, these chemicals leach into everything cooked in these pans, too.
Some 4,500 human-made substances fall under the PFAS class, and residues from this family of chemicals are now found across the globe — in soil, drinking water, food, animals, and even inside the human body.
So these type of pans get a -10 on the eco-friendly scale!
PEOPLE ALSO ASK: What Pots and Pans are Toxic?
Cooking pots and pans made from materials that are reactive are toxic, like ones made from metals and alloys (alloys are a combination of metals, like stainless steel cookware and cast iron cookware). These have the potential to leach metal ions into food while cooking. The other ones to avoid are ones that are coated with ceramic coating, glazes, enamels, and other non-stick coating.
The most non-toxic cooking pots and pans are ones that are made from a raw material that is completely non-reactive (like natural clay), with no additives or contaminants in the manufacturing process. These kinds of cookware sets also happen to be the best eco-friendly cookware, as described in the article above!