Greening My Kitchen

Over the past month, I read a couple of books by two great women science fiction writers that inspired me to think more deeply about my own life and ways I could actively contribute to saving this sorry excuse for a species (tongue planted firmly in cheek). I came up with a lot of ideas, but a simple one was to get more serious about greening my kitchen.

I’ve been concerned about the environment for quite some time, so I’ve already incorporated some changes. The three easiest and most fulfilling of these were:

  1. Compost: We don’t have a very large garden, but we use all the compost we produce, and there is something very satisfying about turning what is essentially garbage into dark black, nutrient-rich stuff for making things grow. Composting has cut our trash in half, and I don’t have to use chemical fertilizers or plant foods anymore either.
  2. Recycle: Our town just instituted a very broad recycling program, so now we recycle everything we can, especially paper containers. When I am in the grocery store, I also try to buy food packaged in material that I know I can recycle to reduce garbage. Expanding our recycling efforts has probably reduced our garbage by half again.
  3. Compact florescent lightbulbs: I’m putting these in wherever I can. They are long-lasting energy savers.

That’s a good start, but what more could I do? Here are the areas I am going to tackle next:

  • Eliminate plastics as much as I can, especially for food storage
  • Get rid of harsh, expensive, petroleum-based chemical cleaners and make my own (see the bottom of this post for recipes)
  • Make a real effort to get up earlier on Saturday mornings so I can take advantage of local farmers’ markets — or perhaps join a CSA
  • Seriously considering replacing the refrigerator — I know I can trade in for a more energy-efficient model, but the anti-waste part of me rebels against getting rid of something that may still have usefulness; still, we hate our current refrigerator, so that is motivating

Any other ideas? I’d love to hear them.

Finally, the conundrum: At the grocery store, do I stop taking plastic bags? They are so evil in so many ways, but we reuse them to pick up after the dogs, so does that make it OK? Or should we buy the biodegradable poop bags and kick the plastic bag habit altogether? Comments are welcome.

Here are some recipes for natural cleaners to replace the chemical ones:

Spray Cleaner

For use on any surface except glass. Combine:

  • 1 tsp. borax
  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 2 cups hot water
  • a few drops essential oil — I like orange or lavender oil; tea tree oil is known for its antimicrobial properties (optional but smells nice)

Toilet Cleaner

Combine:

  • 4 tbsp. baking soda
  • 4 tbsp. vinegar
  • 4 tsp. essential oil, such as orange or lemon oil (optional)
  • 4 cups water

I’m looking forward to a world where we don’t have to think about doing this stuff, and it doesn’t seem like a sacrifice — rather, it is natural, habitual behavior. Next step: reducing the use of my car. If only I can convince the office that I don’t really need to drive there and attend all those meetings…

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6 thoughts on “Greening My Kitchen

  1. […] deciding to green my kitchen last week, I also realized that I needed to desperately de-clutter my kitchen. In an ideal world, […]

  2. How to Cook Green « Simply Cooking 15 October 2007 at 7:13 am

    […] using chemical cleaners in my […]

  3. marti 14 May 2008 at 10:58 pm

    My favorite spray cleaner for the kitchen is straight distilled white vinegar. It has disinfecting properties and it wonderful. The smell goes away once it’s dry.

    My favorite around the house (even carpet spills) is a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water. It’s wonderful.

    As for the toilet, sprinkle borax on and wait at least 30 minutes. Then with a toilet brush or towel scrub (doesn’t take much) the mess away!

    There are really fun books on the market about uses for vinegar and baking soda, they are fun and very creative.

  4. Shannon 15 May 2008 at 7:13 am

    Thanks for the suggestions, Marti. I have been using vinegar and water mixture to clean kitchen counters and floors — works great!

  5. […] And most importantly, eliminate cleaners with chemicals, as cleaners constantly re-pollute the air; homemade cleaners can do the job just as effectively, and don’t poison you at the same […]

  6. […] to save some money by making some of my own toiletries. I have been having a lot of success with making my own cleaning products. A little Internet research led me to the conclusion that some of the same ingredients I use for […]

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