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3 min read

As many of us look to tackle the amount of plastic we use in our everyday lives, our homes are a great place to start. In the kitchen especially there are so many eco alternatives to plastic - compostable sponges, wooden dish brushes, beeswax wraps, glass and steel food containers. It’s becoming easier and easier to ditch the plastic.

But the not so stylish centrepiece of many a British kitchen, the humble washing up bowl, remains somewhat overlooked! In this article we’ll examine the eco credentials of alternative options. 

Recycled Plastic Washing Up Bowls

Most people would think that a plastic-free washing up bowl is the most eco-friendly option, but if you’re on a tight budget, you can find recycled plastic washing up bowls on the market. In terms of energy needed for manufacture this is a good alternative to using virgin plastic. But, you know what, the trouble with using plastic for washing up bowls (recycled or otherwise) is that it’s not really the best material for the job. Yes, it’s lightweight and cheap, but it is far from hygienic. The slime and stains that are so hard to get rid of on a plastic bowl are the result of scratches over time making the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This is going to impact on the lifecycle of the product. Which in turn means more of a negative impact on environment. Plus, it’s just a bit grim!

So if we are steering clear of plastic, what are our options?

Rubber or Silicone

Rubber or silicone has similar properties to plastic, both are lightweight & flexible. But, the similarities don’t end there. Far from being a natural product silicone is actually made with petrochemicals and you can only recycle silicone at specialised facilities. Rubber is a popular choice - and natural rubber is very eco-friendly, however most rubber products on the market are synthetic rubber, and like silicone, synthetic rubber is made with petrochemicals. It’s worth checking to see if the product is made from natural rubber. Both rubber and silicone are safer than plastic and they don’t emit micro plastics, and are hardwearing and durable. On balance, rubber or silicone is a better choice than plastic. 

Enamel 

Enamel is a great eco friendly material for all sorts of things; from classic plates and cups to cookware. It’s non-toxic, really durable and very easy to recycle. It won’t get scratched and stained like plastic or silicone. So…all good then? Although the reasons above make enamel a great material for a washing up bowl, all the enamel bowls we found were round and shallower than a standard size washing up bowl. So, if you’re like us and you want a good sized bowl when you’ve got a mountain of washing up to get through, read on! 

Stainless Steel Washing Up Bowl

Thinking about all this is exactly what prompted us at to design and make the worlds first stainless steel washing bowl. Elephant Box got started by making steel food containers and we realised that the properties that make stainless steel great for carrying food and drink make it the best material for a washing up bowl too. 

But is stainless steel eco friendly? One of the biggest drawbacks of stainless steel is the energy that goes into producing it in the first place. However looking at the whole lifecycle of a product is essential when analysing its eco credentials and a well designed product made from stainless steel will last a lifetime. Stainless steel is easy to recycle - it is in fact infinitely recyclable and all steel has at least 10% recycled content in it.

A stainless steel washing up bowl is the most environmentally friendly alternative to plastic washing up bowls. Durable, easy to clean and very hygienic, it won’t stain, split or suffer when it comes into contact with a hot pan! It will also look super stylish in your kitchen and last for many years to come. 

find out more about our 10 litre stainless steel washing up bowl here. 



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