What you need for a greener kitchen: Healthy cookware

Keeping it greener in the kitchen can mean many things. You may be using more fresh vegetables or local foods, literally adding greens. Perhaps you’ve switched to greener cleaners that don’t use bleach or ammonia.

Now it’s time to take stock of your cookware.

If you’re still using pans coated with Teflon or a similar nonstick surface, you’ll want to get familiar with — and then get away from — the polytetrafluoroetheylenes (PTFE) used in this old-style technology. When heated to high temperatures pans coated with this substance release fumes into the air that contain hazardous compounds called perfluorinated chemicals or PFCs.

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Non-stick cookware, once hailed as a space-age wonder, has fallen into disfavor, as those wondrous non-stick coatings have been revealed to be unhealthy for humans and the environment.

Teflon, and similar non-stick coatings that relied on perfluorochemicals (PFCs), were safe when used as instructed, according to their makers. But these slippery products, which provided a marvelous landing pad for fried eggs, turned out to be amazingly sticky in less positive ways in the outside world.

Scientists say that the PFCs used in these coatings persist as pollution in waterways and landfills. The chemicals have been found in human blood samples and implicated as carcinogenic. No one knows when, if ever, they’ll biodegrade.