How to keep it clean, but green, in your kitchen
My previous blog about having a green bathroom has been very popular Green Bathroom
and now I've been asked to write one regarding the kitchen. Much of the same applies.
Simple green tips for the kitchenIf you have fewer products, you can buy better and actually end up spending less because you'll have no waste. (How many once used items are lurking under your kitchen sink?).
How to have a clean, green kitchenIf it's cleaned regularly, it doesn't need industrial strength cleaners.
Here are the products that we use in our kitchen:
What's a really good, green washing powder?Ecoleaf concentrated powder comes in a paper bag and lasts for ages. This is a very compact 2kg bag (40 washes). Some people like their clothes to smell of strong washing powder, but I find this really overpowering now - it's the same with perfume; when you stop using it, your senses become very grateful. You can always add some natural oils if you want some kind of scent. There is information in the bathroom blog (Green Bathroom) about the regularity of washing clothes. In order to give the pipes a good clean, occasionally I will set the washing machine on rinse and put some bicarbonate of soda mixed with water in the drawer and some white vinegar in the drum.
What's a really good, green washing-up liquid?
Ecoleaf washing-up liquid. This looks like Ecover but it's not, we've just refilled the bottle. Ecoleaf is similar to Ecover in terms of being kind to the environment, but we prefer not to buy Ecover now as it's been bought up by a larger company. Some people complain that there aren't as many bubbles with these kinds of washing up liquids, but we use a squirt and swill a sponge or cloth around which creates the bubbles you need.
What's a really good, green surface cleaner?We have previously bought Ecoleaf multi-surface cleaner (see the bottle), but now we make our own using a very uncomplicated recipe of 50/50 white vinegar and water. We are reusing the squirty bottle.
Green cleaning with white vinegarUsed as surface cleaner (see above), a floor cleaner (see below) and occasionally as a thorough sink waste cleaner (poured onto bicarbonate of soda and left for 10 mins).
Alternatives to using bleach in your homeWe haven't used this anywhere in the house for decades.
Green cleaning using bicarbonate of sodaUsed for toothpaste, deodorant and sink cleaning :) Lemon juice is a powerful cleaner too - if you have a tea stained cup, leave an old/used piece of lemon overnight in the cup full of water and give it a scrub in the morning, it should come up sparkling.
Why green cleaners are better for the environmentAs well as being more kinder towards to our water systems, these products are also more caring to frogs, fish and insects and other wildlife. It seems that there are no allergy issues either, so they are winners all round.
How to have clean taps without using chemicalsAn old, clean towel buffs stainless steel taps and sinks (same in bathrooms). I've been doing this for decades thanks to my friend Sara's tip.
How to have a clean floor without using chemicalsOurs is swept daily (and the contents added to the compost heap). The floor gets a quick wash once a week or so with warm water and a dash of white vinegar. It may be worth mentioning that we don't currently have any pets of our own which may mean that you have to wash a kitchen floor more often. Also, we have a 'no outdoor shoes in the house' policy which does help to keep the cleaning to a minimum :)
Is using kitchen roll green?We don't buy this. Our Grandparents survived without it. We use old clothes, cut into squares to clean up spills etc. It's important that they then get rinsed and dried flat, rather than left in a crumpled heap to get smelly. I tend to pop them on the line to dry and then in with the next wash and indulge myself by using a new scrap. I do bring paper serviettes home in my pocket or bag, even if a corner has some crumbs or a spill on it. I keep them neatly in a small paper gift bag on the shelf and then these can be used in situations where you really wouldn't want to keep the cloth afterwards.
Green alternatives to cloths and dish spongesHere's a site Unsponges where you can buy non-plastic items (thanks Rachael). There are also some fairly good visual clues if you want to have a go at making your own.
Wash tea towels to keep you healthyWe use two or three a week. Wash them regularly so that they keep germ free.
How green are dishwashers?Some people can't be without them - my mum used to say that she'd rather have a dishwasher than a washing machine! We (mostly John it has to be said) prefer to wash-up by hand. There is some guff about dishwashers using less water, but for us I would doubt this very much (we tend to wash-up twice a day). In terms of considering going out and buying one, there are also the energy and materials used for manufacture and the transport and packaging of the dishwasher as well as the energy that they use. Timewise, it doesn't take much longer to wash up than it does to load and unload a dishwasher and there's also the fact that frequently, items need to go back in for a second (proper) wash. Lastly, many dishwasher tablets are individually wrapped in plastic.
Take care when using a dishwasherOnce I was staying somewhere where I had to use the dishwasher as there was no rack, tea towel or even a drainer. I couldn't find any dishwasher tablets either so the Girl Guide in me thought that two drops of washing up liquid would solve the problem and not be excessive. The picture below depicts the chaos, which for me was a small environmental disaster, as I had to use more water to clean off the bubbles. When I opened the door, it was like a scene from 'The Magic Porridge Pot'. Luckily the floor was waterproof...and I remembered the magic words. Lesson learned and hopefully it gave you a laugh.
Other green things to consider in your kitchen:
Water saving techniques1. Boil sufficient water if making cups of tea, but not necessarily a whole kettle full.
2. When washing up, we run the water (until it's hot) into a bucket and store it outside for washing the car etc.
3. Reuse steamed or boiled veg water.
4. Bear in mind that many people in the world have to walk for miles to get water. It's precious, so try not to waste it.
Compost your fruit and vegetable scrapsIf you can't compost yourself, find a neighbour or friend who does and who would be willing to accept it. This is the greenest way to reuse banana skins etc. You should (hopefully) be surprised how little (if any) 'food waste' you have after this.
When you're green, less is definitely moreHave a purge and donate unused kitchen items to a good cause. Nearly everyone has too much in their kitchen. Keep things which are most frequently used at the front of cupboard and when obtaining something new, go for the best quality you can afford as it will last much longer and save you money in the long run. Keeping the surfaces clear makes them much easier to keep clean too. The most important things for me in the kitchen are a very sharp knife, very good quality pans and a hand blender, which besides a kettle and a small toaster, is the only kitchen gadget we own.
Green oven tipsIf you're going to put the oven on, try to find more than one thing to put in it; eg. bake some beetroot, or slow cook some tomatoes or baked beans for another day.
Greener food packagingShopping plastic-free
For further reading, try Thirty-seven ways to reduce the use of plastics
What other Green things do you do in your kitchen?