Welcome to BUYABLES, a new series that will show you how to upgrade your life and the things you need to buy to do it. VICE Media makes a small commission on products linked in this article.
By far my favorite of the current Five Two offerings are their Reusable Silicone Straws. They might actually be perfect—the ten pack of BPA and BPS-free silicone straws comes with four carrying cases and four squeegee cleaners (objectively the best way to clean a straw, put your tiny brushes away) and only costs $25. They’re dishwasher safe, can also be used for hot drinks, and the fold-and-stuff method of carrying makes way more sense than a complicated telescoping maneuver. A squeegee and a straw both fit inside the silicone carrying case with ease, and frankly I delight in pulling the whole kit and caboodle out in coffee shops (and at parties, and my friend’s houses, and visiting my parents… I’m fun, I swear).
The whole Five Two line has a millennial-friendly palette of pinks, grays, tans, and blues; I nabbed the pink straw set for my bag immediately, and the bright color actually helps me remember not just which drink is mine on the table, but to take my straw with me when I’m done. I jumped on the reusable straw wagon pretty early—I drink almost everything out of a straw, from cocktails to coffee—and I have amassed a large collection of metal, glass, plastic, and silicone straws, but these ones consistently stay at the top of the pile, and are the only ones I actually bother to take with me on the go. They’re a great size, wide enough for smoothies but narrow and flexible enough for a canned bev, and they seem to be holding up well to constant daily use—and some absent-minded chewing as well. They’re not only better for the environment, they’re also just better.
First of all, stop buying dryer sheets; they’re really not great for you or your dryer or your laundry or the planet. There is a better option and it’s Five Two Wool Dryer Balls The biggest difference between this set and my previous set of wool dryer balls is their size and heft (think softballs to baseballs). The larger size actually dries clothes faster: dryer balls work by keeping the clothes separate and moving instead of in one big wet clump, which helps the hot air circulate better, which means less time tumbling around. The friction of the balls softens things up (without coating your stuff with questionable chemicals), and the wool absorbs heat and moisture to keep things just humid enough to help with static, lint, and wrinkles.
The Five Two wool ball set is made of 100% nontoxic, hypoallergenic, and fair-trade certified New Zealand wool, and comes in the same aforementioned Five Two color palette instead of just an unbleached wool color. Navy, gray, and pink hues might not have any effect on the actual laundry—and I did test to make sure they don’t run or stain a load of whites—but they do make laundry day a bit more cheerful, and are easier to find in a pile of sheets. You can buy them in sets of three or six wool balls, which are handmade in Nepal by women using traditional crafting techniques and earning an independent income.
Over on the kitchen side of things, Five Two’s entry in the apron space is a remarkably thoughtful—and technical—garment. Neither ‘Kiss the Cook’ nor sheer and frilly, the thick cotton twill actually protects the wearer from the splatters and splashes of, you know, cooking; this is an apron for wearing, not looking at. An extra wide bib, extra long ties, and an adjustable neck mean it fits a wide range of sizes—although I did find I had to adjust the neck strap significantly to account for my slightly shorter than average height. I particularly like the hanging loop on the inside of the bib to keep it from dragging on the floor, and the three pockets (one of which has a pull-out measurement conversion chart, cannily printed right way up for the wearer) keep things handy.
By far the best features, though, are the built-in pot holders on the bottom corners. As someone with a slightly awkward kitchen layout, which means appliances are often not surrounded by easily accessible counters (ah, city living), and a predilection for grabbing things out of the microwave without checking first, these are brilliant. I wouldn’t use them for seriously hot jobs (they aren’t silicone, after all), but for quick kitchen wrangling they’re great. My one complaint is that right now the apron only comes in blue, gray, or orange: they all look good, but where’s the pink, Five Two?
At least now you can get matching Oven Mitts and Pot Holders (which also do not come in pink). Five Two is offering various combos of Apron, Mitts, and Pot Holders so you can save a little money by buying a set, too. The Mitts and Holders actually are silicone, for heat protection up to 650 degrees. I’m particularly interested in the Mitts, which are extra long to provide full wrist protection against grills, oven racks, and general absent-mindedness—I have a scar on my arm that attests to the dire need for this detail. The Pot Holders are sturdy enough to be used for trivets, too, and both the mitts and holders have loops and magnets for hanging, which I love.
Rounding out the kitchen linens are the Five Two Kitchen Towels, which come in both the thin flour-sack and thick utility towel variety. If you’re a devotee of one type, you can buy them separately, but for the best deal grab a pack of six (four thin, two thick) for $69; it’s a better price than most quality kitchen towels out there, but doesn’t quite compare to the bargain that the ubiquitous and similar-looking IKEA dish towels offer at around a dollar apiece. To be fair, the Five Two towels are softer, larger, and way more absorbent than the IKEA ones (even the flour-sack ones), and they wash up like a dream, but this is one of those items that your dedication to the sport of cooking will need to justify.
On the kitchen tool front, The Five Two Wooden Spoons come in five different varieties, so you can match the spoon to your cooking style or fill a particular gap in your arsenal—or splurge on the complete set for $99. (On a side note, the most popular Christmas gift I’ve ever given was a single expensive wooden spoon and a can of San Marzano tomatoes; people literally fought over it. Make of that what you will). Made of lightweight, water-resistant teak, they’re all beautifully carved and balanced, with definite personalities; the whimsical tasting spoon on the end of the 2-in-1 Stirrer is my personal favorite, the Corner-Getter seems the cleverest of the bunch, and the flat and sturdy Flip & Scrape is a kitchen workhorse. At $25 each (except the 2-in-1 at $29) the price leans more investment than basic, although I like the idea of having a spoon that could become a hand-me-down. Be warned, wood requires a little more thoughtful care and handling than a typical chuck it in the dishwasher routine, but I’ve found that with hand-washing and a couple of rub downs with mineral oil, these spoons are likely to stay beautiful for ages.
Up next, Five Two’s first foray into stoneware, a three pack of nesting mixing bowls, looks intriguing. Dishwasher and microwave-safe, low and wide, and with a pouring spout (!), I can’t wait to get my hands on them.