Thursday, March 4, 2010

21 February Featured Space: Kitchen - Going Green

Some of you may recall that during the Home Office featured space, I through out a couple of ideas/ways to go green.  And I also mentioned that I would try to do the same for each space I feature each month.

The reason being is that it was part of my new year's resolution list, to start living more green and take better care of this great earth we live upon.  And, now that I have a couple of absolutely amazing and fabulous blog readers, hopefully a couple of you can snag a couple of the tips and tricks as well, and together, we can find ways to reduce our carbon footprint!

And man oh man!  There are insane amounts of things that can be done in the kitchen space.  More than I could list here without creating a new record for longest blog post, but believe me, it's super easy to get boatloads of tips and tricks for going green in any space, by using my bff search engine, Google, or check out this article which also has some pretty great information!  That being said, I have to share some easy peasy lemon squeezy options, that are completely easy and do-able by anyone!

Clean Green:

 

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I have a small addiction to cleaning.  It's a small problem, not like Charlie Sheen rehab worthy problem, but let's just say it's not normal to see me without cleaner and a rag as part of my daily apparel.  Knowing that, over the last year, I have done everything possible to only purchase cleaners that claim to "Be Green"

 

I do say claim, because it had been brought to my attention that some green cleaners are really more green than others.  So, I have gotten better about reading labels closely to ensure I am doing what's right for the earth.  The one drawback is that all natural cleaners tend to run on the more expensive side, and although I bite it and do it because I know how truly harsh non-natural cleaners are for both my family and the earth, I am also recently being turned on to common household items that can also be used to get the homestead squeaky green {such as lemons!}

I have also been educating myself more on the impacts of many of the chemicals in our home, by reading through a scary but eye opening book: Squeaky Green


And let's not discount necessary second half of using the cleaners, their counterparts - dusters, rags, sponges, and mop heads.  The good news, ALL of these disposable items can now easily be replaced with non-disposable versions, call microfiber.


Yes folks, it is the cat's meow.  And not something new, but something so wonderfully good for cleaning, because you aren't filling the landfill with disinfecting wipes, sponges, duster refills and mop heads.  Oh yes, microfiber comes in all those versions, pare a rag with some dusting solution, nothing gets wood looking better!  Snag a microfiber sponge for washing dishes or wiping down bathrooms and counters, oh yes, we are really onto something now.  And lastly, when it comes to floors, I totally HEART the Method O-Mop, with a microfiber cleaning pad:

 

Not only does microfiber lock in dust and keep it there, it's also completely washable by just tossing it into your washer/dryer, and when it comes out, it looks like new again!  It really is a miracle cloth.



Wash Green:

 On a very similar note, the kitchen floors, buffet tables and counters aren't the only things getting scrubbed in the kitchen, but equally important, are the dishes we eat from each day.  This one is an easy no brainer for me.  During the day, after each meal with the kiddos, I actually, enter gasp here, wash all of the dishes by hand.  

 

 Oh yes in deedy.  I throw on some gloves and scrub scrub scrub after each and every meal during the day.  Saves us SO much water and energy from washing the dishes through the dishwasher.  

However, for those big family meals, I am not going to lie, I am a fan of my dishwasher.  It gives me more time with my family after dinner, and I can definitely appreciate that!  However, since I am a dishwasher addict, the fact that I am only running it for one meal a day, allows me to get away with only running it every 2-3 days.  Plus, I also use earth friendly dishwasher detergent and finally, I run it at night when I put the kids to bed, and open it up to let air dry over night, while the hubs and I are resting our eyes.  This saves on using the heat drying cycle.


 
Shop Green:

You may have noticed in the pantry reveal, a not so fancy bin of green bags resting on the floor.  This not so fancy way of shopping, is one of my absolute favorite ways to go green, literally, in the kitchen.  About a year ago, I invested in a 10 pack of green sacks from bagsontherun.com.  A little skeptical at first about the whole green bag thing, the second I received my little buddies in the mail, I was SOLD!  These bags hold an AMAZING amount of groceries, like up to 22 lbs of them!  And here are some scary facts for all of you to munch on {courtesy of bagsontherun.com}
  • The petroleum used to make 18 plastic bags could drive a car for 1 mile?
  • The EPA estimates that it takes a plastic bag over 500 years to decay in a landfill?
  • The average person's plastic bag legacy will be 4.175 million years?
  • The worldwide consumption of plastic bags is over 500 billion, over 1 million per minute?
So, I took my new found friends, and put them into a nice little lidded bin like so:


And every time that we go shopping, into the trunk goes the bin.  And yes, we even fill that up too, when the bags are full, or for carting out jugs of juice or cleaners.  Waste not!

And of course the bags don't just get used for groceries, they are also great for long car trips/vacations or for trick or treating!  

These days, there are a lot of fancier pretty options from envirosax.com or containerstore.com, or you can even find them at just about any grocery or department store.  At any rate, there is no longer any excuse not to use these amazing multi-tasking earth savers.

Eat Green:

Another endless subject, but there is so much you can do in this department as well!  And I am not just talking about eating completely organically {bowing to those of you that do, I am not there yet, but getting closer year after year}.

First way we started eating more green, and saving mucho moola, was by planting our first veggie garden last year!  No green thumb needed either; it was surprisingly easy to do!  Last year we successfully grew onions, peppers, tomatoes, celery, herbs and leaf lettuce, and plan on doing the same plus, this year! 

Nothing is better then freshly grown veggies straight from your garden!  Delish!
Aside from eating green from a technical perspective, there is also a lot of things you can do to be green when preparing foods!

First, eating at home is a lot more green than eating at fast food restaurants.  The amount of waste created from grabbing food on the go, is quite insane.  And for you coffee on the go individuals, snag some reusable travel mugs and cups:


These days you can get kinds that work great for both iced and hot coffee, and I haven't found a coffee joint yet that won't be happy to fill up the personal cups vs. giving you ones that later end up taking up space in a landfill.

And as far as cooking at home goes, this year we received an amazing Christmas gift, that is actually helping us green up in a little way:
Yeppers, this bad boy is a multifunctional cooking machine, both a rotisserie and toaster oven in one.  And how is this "green" you ask?  Well, this little puppy uses far less energy than our oven, and can definitely hold tons of food to feed our huge family of five!  Pretty amazing!
And when we do use the oven, a couple of things do help, like shutting your oven/burners off early, and letting the already built up heat, finish cooking the food.  And when using the oven, I cook everything inside at once vs. one thing at a time.
And when baking, to preserve the cookie sheets, vs. lining the cookie sheet with tinfoil, I found you can actually get these totally reusable nonstick baking tray liners.  And they are GREAT!


And for lunch on the go or for school:
Reusable Lunch Bags, Totes and Boxes are far better than brown bagging it.
And even better yet, we have found using these little guys, are great for using less sammy baggies:

 

And such an obvious one, like think Britta commercial obvious:


 


Instead of using bottled water, snag yourself a water pitcher with a built in filter, or add on to your faucet, or use that fancy water from your fridge door.  Whichever you choose, this route is much better for the environment than bottled water.  So snag a reusable water jug for each family member, and fill 'em up at home before hitting the road to that soccer game or jog around the lake.

Another obvious one is food storage:
Opt for storing leftovers in good quality food storage containers vs. those couple time use containers that end up getting tossed after filling them up with spaghetti sauce.  Oh, and a quick tip for keeping your plastic food storage containers looking brand spanking new after storing a red sauce, hand wash the container in soapy ice cold water.  So far, it's been a no fail solution for us folks!

And remember my snack storage suggestions?  Buying in bulk is much more green than buying individually wrapped items, and even greener, is re-using the storage bags that you divide your snacks down to.  They even have these cool devises made specifically for drying your sammy bags:




Live Green:

Yep, I said it.  I either say Live Green or Recycle Recycle Recycle!  Either way, think about each thing you are tossing away.

 
And these days, there are so many great storage options when it comes to recycling.  Broken record or not, IHeart using these baskets in tons of rooms in my home for papers:

 

And for all other kitchen recycling {cans, glass, cardboard, etc...}, we have a recycling bin tucked under the sink, that pulls out easily for access:

 

And to get your little munchkins excited to help with organizing, check out this book from your local library, they will be sure to HEART it and learn a lot about keeping our planet green: Michael Recyle 

 

It's amazing what my little sponges of knowledge can tell me about what I should recycle, I actually laugh that they are constantly on "Recycle Patrol" and I couldn't be more proud of that fact!

Lastly, something I haven't done yet, but have full intentions of starting in the kitchen, is a counter top compost:
 
And because I also resolute to spend less this year, I am going to attempt to make a homemade DIY compost for the kitchen, vs splurging on a spendier version.  And the benefit will be that I will have amazing soil for this year's veggie garden and creating less landfill waste at the same time.  Gotta love two for ones!

So there you have it!  Now it's your turn!  Anyone else resolute to be more green this year?  What are you doing around the kitchen to green up, and what else can I do that I didn't mention above?  I would be gratefully joyous to hear what you have up your green sleeves as well!  










21 comments:

  1. Great post! One of my new years resolutions is to start recycling some of the trash in our house. We already use a few green cleaning things (like the dish soap), but I know we can certainly do more to help the planet. I figure it's probably best to incorporate more green practices a little at a time into our daily lives. Again - great post!

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  2. I love the idea of a counter top compost! You'll have to let us know how it turns out! I saw this on younghouselove.com http://www.younghouselove.com/2008/11/composting-makes-us-happy/

    I might just have to try it out!! Thanks for the reminder!

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  3. Thanks for the link Emily, I will absolutely make sure to refer back to their tutorials when it comes time for me to make my own. Now that the snow is finally starting to melt away, it won't be long until we create our own DIY compost for both outside and under the kitchen sink. Stay tuned!

    xoxo,
    Jen

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  4. I really "HEART" Nature's Source brand, it's by the Johnson company. I seriously works better than any "non-green" cleaner. I love it so much, I emailed the company about it, and they sent me a bunch of coupons.

    I've heard things about vinegar as a cleaner. Ever try that?

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  5. A reader recently emailed me what looks like a super easy and cheap recipe, that once my current cleaners run low, I am going to give a whirl:

    1 tbsp of Borax powder (find it in the laundry aisle of your supermarket)

    3 tbsps of white vinegar

    2 cups of water

    1 tablespoon of dish soap

    1 drop of essential oil such as peppermint for fragrance (optional)



    Pour it into a spray bottle you bought at the hardware store, give it a shake, and you are ready to clean. For windows, use white vinegar wiped down with newspapers, and to disinfect toys and other kids’ products fill a spray bottle with non-chlorine bleach (3% hydrogen peroxide) and wipe with a paper towel.



    Bonus: Cleaning out harsh chemicals is not only better for your health, it’s good for the environment, because you drastically cut back on your plastic use by eliminating all those bottles of mildew cleaner, window washer, bathtub scrub, and more.



    Looks pretty fantastic to me! Anything to keep my family safe, save me moola and help the earth at the same time gets me giddy with excitement!

    xoxo,
    Jen

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  6. Great Ideas! We love using our toaster oven for all sorts of things! Where did you find the reusable nonstick baking liner. I need to invest in some of these. Thanks :)

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  7. We actually found ours at a local farming store, of all places!

    Here is a link to something similar on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Silicone-non-stick-3-Pack-2-Cookie-1-Toaster/dp/B002J4BARM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1300503180&sr=8-2

    Thanks!

    xoxo,
    Jen

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  8. Hi Jen-
    Just found your site today and fell in love! I think the omop has been discontinued any other suggestions on mops or something to get vinyl and laminate floors clean? Thanks!

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  9. Have you tried composting yet? It's wonderful and awesome fertilizer for your garden once it's broken down into soil.

    I've tried all versions as we've been composting for 6 years. The fancy one with the filter worked well for a while, but we've found just a bowl on the counter and my hubbie empties it every afternoon when he takes the dog out. We put coffee grounds in our too. Emptying it daily keeps it from getting gross and a bowl can be tossed in the dishwasher for a good scrub.

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  10. What great "green" ideas. I have just purchased re-usable produce bags. They are wonderful things. We try and do as much as we can to help our environment. We only have one, and I want my great, great great-grandchildren (and many more generations) to be able to enjoy this wonderful planet.

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  11. Check your research - it's often considered "MORE green" to run your dishwasher(when it's completely full) than wash dishes by hand every day. You waste more water per bowl,cup,etc. and more electricity (hot water usage,etc.) The probem is when people equate doing things "homeade" with being better for the environment. One of the best ways to save energy is not actually those green bags, but by reusing plastuc bags from the grocery tore. If use every bag 2x (1.holds your purchases @ the store 2.REUSE) then you save more energy. Do u use big black garbage bags for your trash? If you just used your grocery store bags instead you'd help a lot. RESEARCH more!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for wonderful post! Have to buy those mats! And I love your house Jen!

      2 Anonimous June 17, 2012 9:24 PM:
      While I second you on the dishwasher issue I cannot agree with you on the cloth bags issue. I've seen such "research" before and it reminds me of similar "facts" on disposable vs. cloth diapers topic. The authors just did't take full cycle (and specifically waste management costs) into account. I mean, yes, it may (or may not) cost the same to produce and distribute 1 disposable bag used twice and reusable bag used X number of times but if I make my reusable shopping bags out of my old worn out t-shirts and use them (bags) for 10 years, then compost them and fertilize my garden, do you really think it has the same imprint than a grocery bag used once again in garbage bin and ending its life in the landfill to stay there forever? I don't even start to compare how much can reusable bag hold! Well, at least 3 times more than disposable plastic grocery bag! And while I've mentioned it I'll have a remark about the popular cloth diapers "research" - the authors not only didn't take into account the cost of disposing the "sposies" (not really huge here in America but enormous for many smaller countries) but also the fact than 1 diaper is not used by 1 baby for 4 to 36 month (depending on the type of diaper and potty-training age) but it can be (and they are!) reused by subsequent babies as well or sold and then reused! And then, if they are made of natural fibers (cotton, hemp or bamboo), composted!

      And back to topic again! I've been trying to go the green route for about 5 years now and I'd like to add the "green cosmetics and make-up" section to your list as well and emphasize the "reduce" part of "reduce, reuse, recycle".
      Also I've read many times that regular tap water is better than bottled water! There are strict regulations regarding tap water and no regulations for bottled water! (I use Brita filter but you don't HAVE to buy a filter, it's just a matter of preference))))))
      And I think your house is perfect! Thank you for your blog, I recently found it and it's just splendid!

      Regards,
      Marianna

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  12. I discovered your blog a few days and am really enjoying it. I want to support the comments that point to the dishwasher being more green than handwashing. Running the dishwasher when full or almost full uses much, much less water and energy than doing the same dishes by hand. (My husband does energy analysis for the DOE - this is based on actual data!) So save some time and money and run them through the machine! Hooray!

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  13. My oldest is in Kindergarten this year and is taking her lunch almost every day. About halfway through the school year, I splurged and bought some reusable snack and sandwich bags. I found them on Etsy (so they weren't exactly cheap) but they're truly amazing and machine washable. We love them & how many fewer plastic bags she's throwing away every day!!

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  14. Hello Jen

    I recently found your blog and I must say it was like opening a Pandora's box for me. I'm just going thru all ur previous posts. Would you kindly tell me what kind of microfiber cloth u use to clean. I'm checking amazon and every product i pick, someone or the other comments saying that they are a rip off. Any input would be nice.

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  15. Thank you so much! I love the ones I find at HomeGoods and TJMaxx. Even the Scotch Brite ones from Target get the job done. :)

    xoxo!
    Jen

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  16. One final note on the dishwasher. The dishwasher does a much better job of killing germs than hand washing. Keeps the colds and other illnesses down.

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  17. Where did you find the lidded bin for the reusable grocery bags?

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    Replies
    1. It has been awhile, but my guess would be Target :)

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  18. It looks like the site for Bags on the Go is just a placeholder now. :-(

    ReplyDelete

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