Sustainable options for kitchen gear are a bit limited. There’s stainless steel, ideal for its recyclability, and then comes recycled plastics. Steel can be expensive, heavy and may not work with every type of décor. Plastics are usually the choice if you want color or different style. Plain glass is recyclable, but treated glass like Pyrex is not, ceramic is not recyclable at all (though natural ceramics and clays are a sustainable choice), and the jury is still out on melamine. What else is there?
Start talking bamboo in the kitchen and the first thought is cutting boards, followed by flooring and maybe counters. Sure, bamboo flooring is a terrific, and very sustainable option, and bamboo counters are a gorgeous kitchen option, but really, is there more?
Well, yes, there’s Melaboo.
Bamboo is a sustainable, renewable resource, and it’s no surprise that more and more products are being developed with it. But it’s essentially the same as wood. Until now.
On the surface, Melaboo products look like melamine – they’re sturdy and non-flexible with a semi-glossy finish that feels smooth to the hand. Melaboo is lighter than metal, glass or ceramic, it’s dishwasher safe and available in attractive colors and styles. So what is it?
Melaboo is made from 100% biodegradable bamboo fibers. The result is non-toxic kitchen products that are sturdy enough for day-to-day use, but will decompose within one year under normal landfill conditions (up to 18 months in some climates). The only drawbacks? You can’t freeze the products, they’re not microwave safe, and though they are biodegradable, it’s not recommended to add them to home compost piles – it would just take too long for the pieces to break down. Since the products are made from bamboo fibers, the material can be molded into bowls, colanders and even measuring cups.
Of course, the easiest place to add some bamboo to your kitchen is with a cutting board. There has been plenty of controversy over wood vs. plastic cutting boards, but it has all boiled down to proper cleaning. Wood boards, when properly maintained, are the safest options available. Though bamboo is technically a grass, it behaves, and is treated, much like wood. A well-made bamboo cutting board will last for many years and is a smart, and beautiful, investment for the kitchen.
If you use your bamboo board to cut raw meat, you will need to clean it more carefully than if you just use it for fruits and vegetables. It’s important to note that bamboo boards can stain – so cutting things like beets, rhubarb or other colorful produce can mar the board. Your bamboo board, and any wood boards, should also be regularly oiled to preserve the life of your board. Make sure you choose a natural bamboo treatment that’s free from petroleum products.
The care and feeding of a bamboo cutting board:
- Immediately rinse after use
- Wash with hot water, soap and a soft scrub brush
- Allow to air dry completely
- Oil as needed to keep board from over drying
If you want to take it an extra step and disinfect your board, or if you’ve got stains or odors on your board, try these:
- Make a paste of baking soda, salt and water to scrub the board. Rinse under hot water. Great on stains.
- Make a paste of oxygen cleaner and water to scrub the board, or wipe with a clean cloth dipped in hydrogen peroxide. Rinse with hot water. Great on stains.
- Scrub your board with half a lemon (after you’ve squeezed it, of course). Rinse with hot water.
- Spray your washed board lightly with white vinegar and allow to air dry. No need to rinse.