This kicks off the first in a series of tips to make you and your life, a little more green. Home is where the green heart is, and the kitchen is a great place to start making your home more environmentally friendly.
As children, who can’t remember the kitchen being the center of activity in the house? Kitchens are generally one of the most important rooms at home, for it’s here that we cook and eat and it is an important meeting point for families and friends.
In this heavily trafficked area, doesn’t it seem strange that most of us would store some of the nastiest chemicals for scouring and scraping dirt in the kitchen?
Today, many of us store our household cleaners under the sink. And the attractive, sparkling labels always give a double message, revealed on the back in smaller print: Poison! Caution! Warning!It is no longer a secret, that the use of harsh solvents and soaps in our homes cause respiratory problems, affect the nervous system of growing children and lead to other health problems.
Not to mention that the formulation of these cleansers release an unspeakable amount of pollutants into the environment during production and after their use.So when it comes to clean, what are the options of going green?
Sustainable cleaning products
If you are a clean-freak, buy environmentally-certified plant-based cleaning products. One widely available brand is Ecover, a company which sells everything from floor cleaner to dishwasher tablets. We recommend it, and it can be found in Israeli health stores, such as Anise.
The dishwashing soap of Ecover, doesn’t cut grease as well as traditional soap, and it is more expensive. But by using a plant alternative you go easier on the environment and your health, as even with a good rinse, a significant amount of dishwashing soap is left on the plate and consumed with your food.
If you are a little more adventurous and don’t mind the smell of pickles, a whole range of cleaning products can be made from the base of white vinegar.
Six cups water, two cups vinegar and a drop of your favourite essential oil makes a good floor cleaner. One cup of vinegar, three cups of water and a drop of tea tree oil makes a good cleaner and disinfectant for counters and walls.We tend to just use water, and a little traditional cleaner if necessary….
A third approach to going green in the kitchen is to simply clean less. Your grandma wouldn’t like to hear that.
Wash down sinks and floors with hot water, and get used to a little more grime on the floor.If there is one thing we can’t stand in Israel, it’s when people pour heavily fragranced water from their floors off their balconies.
If you do this folks (it’s great for watering the plants), please use a biodegradable cleaner and one that is not heavily perfumed. Floors naturally look cleaner if they are tiled with wood, terracotta tiles or cork, a sustainable alternative.
Avoid using white tiles on the floors in your home if you don’t have a flare for cleaning.
According to Blue Butterfly, a new US-based campaign for educating families on health in the home, prior to WWII, most household cleaning was done using relatively safe ingredients like baking soda and vinegar to disinfect and deodorize.
In the kitchen, adds Blue Butterfly, beyond modern cleaning products, one should avoid pesticides and insecticides. In order to keep files of ants from marching over your fresh cheesecake, or cockroaches from nesting under your pipes, keep surfaces clean and dry and keep food stores (and that cheesecake) away from the hungry mouths of little beasties.
Sustainable bug protection
Nettings, covers, sealed containers and the plugging of holes is not a conducive atmosphere for insects.
If these basic steps fail, green insecticides such as Battle for ants and roaches can be purchased online or at alternative health stores. We haven’t checked in to see if you can find this in Israel, though.Being green in the kitchen, or anywhere in the home always means being friendly to ourselves.
Try and avoid plastic containers in the kitchen. In the last 10 years, researchers have found that certain plastic dishes and containers even those used for storing dry food, emit hormone mimics, which disrupt our endocrine system, leading to diseases and cancer.
Plastics versus glass
While there are certain classes of plastics considered safe for use, who wants to take that risk? Consider buying cooking pots, storing containers and dishes made from inert materials such as glass, stainless steel and ceramic. Ceramics go well in the oven and a variety of clay can be used on the stovetop.
Now it’s time to cook and set the table. Table covers and napkins should be made from a reusable material such as cloth and not necessarily from a virgin source. Old sheets can be dyed and serve as a tablecloth and napkins.
When they get too worn, convert them to dish rags or floor rags.After your meal, veggie scraps, teabags and eggshells go into your compost pail for the garden (see James’ soulful post on starting your own), or an urban composter can be bought for use in the city home where green space is limited.
Tell the plastic film it is time for a wrap and invest in food-grade silicone food covers, which can go in the freezer. For a final touch, cover your florescent light with some pink rice paper and bask in the glory – your kitchen is on its way to being perfectly green!