PHOTO: The International Home + Housewares Show ends its stay at McCormick Place on Tuesday, March 10. | ASHLEE REZIN~FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA
I’ve got to give it to the exhibitors at the International Home + Housewares Show: they listen to what consumers want and then figure out a way to produce it.
I’ve been going to the show for years and scan ee the changes they make to meet demand. For instance, when we all were just eating things out of boxes, there were oodles of gadgets to help us do that.
Now, with more people who want to leave less of a carbon footprint, greener products are big this year, especially things that help us waste less in the kitchen. The show — which is not open to the public — concludes Tuesday (March 10).
Here are a few of those products that I especially liked:
Who doesn’t hate buying produce only to have it go bad before it can be used? OXO’s GreenSaver containers combat that problem nicely by extending the life of produce. The containers come in a variety of sizes. A non-toxic filter in the lid absorbs ethylene gas; that’s what causes the rot. There is a basket within each container that makes air flow easier. (The basket can be removed and used as a colander). And a vent on top adjusts the humidity so it’s right for the particular produce it is housing. (A handy table inside the lid shows what setting to use for what veggies or produce.)
When I packed my family’s lunches, I always wanted to pat myself on the back because we were eating better and saving money. But all those little plastic sandwich bags I had to use — not to mention the larger ones I had to use in the frig to store leftovers — used to make me cringe, knowing that couldn’t be good for the environment. I always wished there were a better way. And there is, with the (re)zip reusable storage bags from Blue Avocado. You just wash them after use. They’re PVC-, lead- and BPA-free and made out of food safe FDA-grade PEVA material. Now they also come in gallon size, too, and are leakproof. (They’ll take up less space in the freezer and make it easier to store things like soup). The Blue Avocado folks say using one (re)zip bag a week can eliminate 100 plus plastic bags a week. Pretty cool, huh?
Speaking of lunch, taking along your own is a great idea, but how to keep things cool if no frig is around? Or, if you don’t want to use the office community frig, which never gets cleaned often enough. The answer is in the PackIt line. The bags, which fold up to a nice, compact size, have a gel liner. Put the entire bag in the freezer. Unfold it the next day, pack your food in it and it’ll keep everything cool for 10 hours. If you put something that’s at room temperature in it, the PackIt bag will chill it. Oh, and they come in a variety of sizes, including one meant for a baby bottle and another for wine. The line is really clever and no surprise, created by a mom — Melissa Kieling — who saw a need.
If you use only part of different fruits or vegetables, at least the top where it was sliced gets a little mushy and unusable. That’s why I really liked the Food Hugger from Faberware. It’s a little lid that goes over the top of the produce. They come in a pack of four different sizes.
We’ve all gotten the message the bags that hold microwave popcorn often have materials that aren’t good for us. Plus, all those bags that go into landfills aren’t good, either. That’s one reason I liked the microwave corn popper by Catamount Glass. You put the kernels in a glass (it’s Borosilicate, which to you and me is laboratory glass) cup that has a vented silicone top in the microwave. Two minutes later you have a cup of popcorn. The silicone handle makes it easy to remove and hold onto while snacking. I like the little line that tells you where the limit is for the kernels; you will end up with fewer unpopped kernels that way. (Sorry, no photo).