By Danielle Downs
A green kitchen saves tons of money. Disposable kitchen products simply put cash in the trash and grow our pollution problems. Here are five things you can do today to start saving money and the planet.
1. Green Clean
Make your own non-toxic cleaners with simple ingredients you already have. Baking soda is a great gentle scrub that helps remove grease and dried on particles. White vinegar helps remove streaks from chrome, stainless steel, and glass surfaces. Lemon juice will leave your kitchen smelling fresh and whiten stains. Salt is great for killing bacteria. Choose natural sponges or grow your own loofah to scour your countertops.
For germ-free cutting boards, slice a lemon in half and dip in salt. Use the salted lemon as a scrub for your cutting board. First, rinse the board with hot water to remove surface debris. Then scrub with salted lemon. Let the salt soak on the board 5 minutes. Rinse in hot water.
Egg shells, coffee grounds, and veggie scraps can easily break down in a small back-porch compost bin. Even apartment dwellers can compost in a container. If you have more space, you can build a large open-air compost with stakes and chicken wire. Add yard waste and fibrous material such as dryer lint to a larger compost. Extremely aggressive composts can digest hardy organic garbage. If your backyard compost is large enough and hot enough, you may be able to add things such as pet waste, paper towels, vacuum cleaner canister contents, and even fatty food waste.
This seems like a no-brainer, but putting your recycle bin in a conspicuous location will help keep recyclables out of the trash. Check with your city or county waste management to be certain of what can get recycled. Many areas now offer curbside programs for plastics, glossy magazines and junk mail, and even Styrofoam (#6 plastic). If your bin fills up fast, ask the city for a second one. They are usually happy to drop one off during the next weeks’ collection.
4. Try Cloth
Cloth napkins and kitchen towels are much better for your wallet and the planet. Make your own quick set by cutting jersey or other cotton material with pinking shears. You can even use bed sheets or other fabric that needs repurposing. Cloth napkins are inexpensive and available at discount stores. Cloth dish towels and hand towels for the kitchen will save tons of paper towels. Try a microfiber cloth with your natural cleaning products for better cleaning. Microfiber is now being made from sustainable bamboo.
5. Stop Leaching
Some of the kitchen products from decades past are actually very toxic. Plastic storage containers, non-stick pans, and coated cans have all been shown to leach petrochemicals into our food. Canning jars are free of plastics and BPA that is in so many canned foods and storage containers. These jars come in a variety of sizes and shapes for storing dry goods, leftovers, and even for packing lunches.
Cast iron, stainless steel, copper, and enameled iron cookware are all safer choices than non-stick. In fact, cast iron has been shown to impart iron into foods, which can help people suffering from iron deficiency anemia.