By chef and television personality Duff Goldman
If you’ve seen me on Food Network’s Ace of Cakes—or visited one of my bakeries—you know I’m famous for making big, crazy, one-of-a-kind cakes. So what does that have to do with sustainability? Well, the truth is that just about everything we do—even making a cake—has an impact on the environment. So it’s up to all of us to do what we can to make a difference.
The good news is that we can lighten our environmental footprint in the kitchen by choosing the right plastic packaging, by recycling plastics, and by using recycled plastic products. It’s simpler than it may seem. For example, many of the ingredients you need to make a cake, such as milk, oil, spices, frosting, and more, are available in lightweight plastic packaging that can be recycled in most parts of the country.
Here’s a great example of what a difference the right packaging can make for the environment. I package my Duff™ fondant in a re-sealable container made with durable polypropylene plastic—the same kind used for many yogurt and margarine containers. Because plastics are so lightweight, we’re able to transport more food with less fuel, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Also, this plastic container is easily recyclable in most parts of the country, so less material ends up in landfills. And the airtight seal makes it easy to use only the amount I need, then store the rest for later, so I’m wasting less food.
And it’s not just about cake ingredients. Even if you don’t like baking, it’s probably a safe bet that you still have a lot of recyclable plastic food packaging in your kitchen. You probably have milk and juice jugs, beverage bottles, yogurt and margarine containers, condiment bottles, lids and bottle caps that are recyclable in most curbside programs across the country. Even plastic bags, along with plastic wraps for things such as water bottles and napkins, can be recycled by returning them to participating grocery and retail stores.
So what happens to all those plastics once they’re recycled? This is the really cool part—they become a resource for making useful new products. Your everyday plastics can live on in new packaging, clothing, cooking tools, garden planters, building products, carpeting for your home, and so much more.
Personally, I’m a big fan of my cutting board made with recycled high-density polyethylene or “HDPE” plastic from used milk jugs, as well as my mixing bowls made with recycled polypropylene plastic from used yogurt and margarine containers. Thanks to the durability of plastics, these kitchen tools will last for years, and the best part is that they help keep a valuable resource from going to waste.
Now that you know a bit about how to help the environment by using plastics in the kitchen, here’s one of my favorite recipes for confetti cake for you to download and try at home.
Also check out my video for more information on reducing food and packaging waste in the kitchen.