If you implement just a few of these easy tips, you'll be well on your way to creating an eco friendly kitchen and a healthy, green home. The bonus, you'll simplify your life and save money along the way.
1. Replace Toxic Chemical Cleaners with Healthy Eco Friendly Cleaners.
It's time to clean out those toxic chemicals underneath that kitchen sink with safe, natural products. This includes any antibacterial soaps (which usually contain pesticides!), bleach, pesticides or chemicals that are dangerous to you, your kids and pets. When doing this you have two options:
- You can swap out your conventional, commercial household cleaners as you run out, or...
- Dispose of them all at once (Caution! This must be done safely!). Do not dump the contents down the drain, toilet, sewer, on the ground or place them in the trash. If you do this you are polluting the environment and contributing to unhealthy conditions for humans. Chemical household cleaners are considered hazardous waste and need to be treated as such. That means taking them to your Household Hazardous Waste Facility to properly dispose of them!
2. Replace Antibacterial Hand Soaps
Many product manufacturers prey on women's concerns about germs, creating bona fide "germaphobes." Overuse of antibacterial products has many in the medical and scientific communities concerned about excess consumption. These products have lead to stronger strains of bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics, creating a serious public-health risk and are not eco friendly.
I recommend warm water and soap, preferably castile or some kind of organic brand. Studies have shown that antibacterial soaps are no more effective than simple soap and water. Using antibacterial soaps on a daily basis might create super germs in your kitchen.
Many antibacterials contain triclosan, which degrades rapidly when exposed to chlorinated tap water - thus producing potentially toxic by-products. It's also a known endocrine disruptor.
3. Add Organic Foods To Your Diet
Think about organic foods this way. You are only as healthy as the food you eat. Do you really want to eat a diet that is rich in pesticides, toxic chemicals, preservatives, additives, hormones and antibiotics? My clients report after creating a diet rich in organic foods that they lose weight, doubled their energy and have an improved outlook on life! Eating foods raised on chemicals simply isn't eco friendly! To save money at the checkout read 17 Tips to Shop for Organic Foods on a Budget.
4. Replace Glass and Plastic Cutting Boards with Eco Friendly Wood Cutting Boards
Studies have shown that plastic cutting boards, with their cracks and crevices from use, encourage bacteria growth1. Another study showed that people who use plastic or glass cutting boards were twice as likely to contract salmonella poisoning as those who use wood cutting boards.2
Use wood and bamboo cutting boards: hand wash with castile soap or vinegar and water and use scrub brush after use. Wood cutting boards are generally resistant to bacteria and are great for fruits and veggies. Buy FSC (forest Stewardship Council)-certified wood cutting boards if possible. Remember, when working with meats and veggies, use separate cutting boards for each so you don't cross contaminate.
5. Just Say No to Plastic!
They may be convenient - but they're also sneaky...beware of the plastics in your kitchen, from bottled water to plastic storage containers. Chemicals from plastic can leach into your food and drink. Plastics age and break down as they're subjected to heat, whether from a microwave or conventional oven, hot water and detergents. Over time, you will notice they become brittle and cracked (same thing happens with plastic cutting boards!)
Plastics are highly fat-soluble, which means they are more likely to contaminate fatty, oily foods like meat, cheese, dairy, oils like vinaigrette dressings. One simple tip for food you buy in plastic - like cheese - is to simply trim away the exterior of the food that was in contact with the plastic.
Here are some simple guidelines for phasing out plastics in the kitchen:
- Begin swapping out existing plastic containers for glass, ceramic or stainless-steel storage containers.
- Do not store fatty or oily foods in plastic containers.
- Do not store foods for long periods in plastic containers.
- If you use a microwave oven, don't heat food items in plastic containers.
- Wash new plastic storage containers in warm, soapy water, and avoid putting them in the dishwasher.
- Replace dry, brittle or cracked plastic containers
- Replace buying bottled water in plastic with simple stainless steel water bottles for the whole family. This one tip can save money in the hundreds of dollars per year (and maybe thousands, depending on how much you spend) at the grocery store.
Remember plastic simply isn't eco friendly!
6. Reduce Paper Towel and Napkin Use
Unfortunately, they're bleeding our planet dry too: 2.5 million tons of paper towels fill up landfills annually. That's a lot of waste!
There are healthier, equally effective solutions as seen in the San Diego-based, mom- owned company Skoy. Each cutely designed Skoy cloth is the equivalent of 15 rolls of paper towels. Extra bonus? They're way cheaper than the average $2 roll of paper towel!
Made from a natural cotton and wood-based cellulose pulp, skoy clothes are 100% biodegradable, chlorine-free and uses water-based colors and inks in for each cheery design.
7. Replace the Bacterial Incubator - The Sponge!
The sponge is a great tool for the kitchen, but it may not be the healthiest or cleanest tool in your kitchen. In fact it may be the dirtiest tool in your kitchen you are using to keep your kitchen "clean."
Sponges are bacterial incubators. They provide the perfect environment for virulent bacteria to thrive, a surface to cling to, a steady nutritional food supply from food scraps and moisture.
When two microbiologists, Charles Gerbera and Carlos Enriquez at the University of Arizona Tucson, tested over one thousand sponges and dish rags from five American cities and compared it to bathrooms in the same household, what they found is shocking. Carlos Enriques states,
". . . consistently kitchens came up dirtier..... We have swabbed the toilet rim, for instance, and seldom do we find fecal coliform bacteria there, surprising as that may sound. But in the kitchen, they are everywhere, the sponge, dish towels, sink, and countertops."
On the sponges they tested, they found alive and living well on two-thirds of them, E. coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas (which can be resistant to antibiotics and is responsible for an increasing number of infections in hospitals)
Their study also revealed that the cleanest looking kitchens were actually the dirtiest. It turns out that "clean freaks" who were constantly wiping down their kitchen counters were actually spreading around more bacteria. The truly cleanest kitchens were those kept by bachelors who did not clean!
Replace your sponge with quick drying dish rags or try skoy (described above).
8. Create A Compost System, Reduce Waste
Composting is the act of food scraps, garden or grass clippings, weeds and other organic matter being decomposed and returned to the earth. It is turned into humus, a soil-like material that is used in vegetable and flower gardens, landscaping, and other applications.
Composting offers the following benefits:
- Saves you cash on store-bought fertilizer and pesticides - most of which is petroleum-based
- Keeps organic wastes out of landfills
- Provides nutrients to the soil
- Increases beneficial soil organisms
- Suppresses carbon plant diseases
- Protects soils from erosion
- Assists pollution remediation
- Reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides
When starting to compost, start a system. This will make it easy and automatic for you and the whole family. I recommend getting a kitchen compost pail that you keep in a convenient spot like underneath the kitchen sink. Instead of scraping all of your food scraps in the garbage disposal or trash, scrape vegetable scraps, and egg shells into the compost pail and then take it out every few days when it is full to your chosen compost bin.
To start composting watch our video: Worm Composting - Episode 11 or read our articles: Composting. The Organic Gardeners' Secret Solution , 2 Easy Compost Recipes to Get Your Organic Garden Growing
9. Start A Recycling System
If you don't recycle, the best way to get into the habit is to set up a simple system. If your city gives you separate cans for trash, recycling and garden waste, use it! Get a second trash can for inside your home and put it next to the trash can and label it recycling. You, the family and guests will then know which is which. Next, go to your city's waste management website and print the list of recyclable material they accept and tape it to your recycling bin or refrigerator. If you set up this simple system recycling becomes a no brainer.
Recyle at 1800Recycling.com
10. Replace Non Stick Cookware
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and/or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are found in Teflon, a brand made by DuPont. These chemicals have been linked to the production of hazardous fumes at high temps, over 464 according to the Environmental Working Group, and will kill a bird if it's in the same room. Opt for something else. Healthy alternatives include, stainless steel, cast iron, copper and glass.
1 Dean O. Cliver and Nese O. Ak at the University of Wisoconsin
2 Philip H. Kass at the University of California Davis
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Composting. The Organic Gardeners' Secret Solution