As the resident gluten-free foodee, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It’s where I do my menu planning, maintain my pantry staple list and baking inventory, and test out recipes for the blog. When earth month began, I realized I needed to incorporate more habits into my daily kitchen routines that were healthy for the planet. Whether it’s being more mindful of my food waste or applying smarter, eco-habits to my cooking techniques, or even adapting these simple green cleaning ideas to use in the kitchen.
As with most changes, it tends to be easier when done a little at a time. Sweeping change can be difficult and stressful and can lead to no change happening. It’s better to make small changes than none at all. So think about your own kitchen cleaning habits as you read through this list and decide which one(s) you can easily work into your lifestyle and then run with it 😊
7 Simple Green Cleaning Ideas to Use in Your Kitchen
1. Use Green Kitchen (and home) Cleaners
There are now many high-performing, clean, biodegradable, plant-based cleaning products available on the shelves of your local brick and mortar and virtual stores. Basically, there is no excuse for not being able to find one. Look for nontoxic cleaners or cleaners that are labelled “Green Certified.”
Avoid dishwashing, floor, countertop, and surface cleaners (and other household cleaning products) that contain (in particular) the following toxins:
- Ethanolamines and Alkanolamide Surfactants
- Glycols, Glycol Ethers, and Esters
- Optical Brighteners
- Per-and Polyfluorinated Compounds (PFAS)
- Perchloroethylene or “PERC”
- Petroleum Distillates
- Phosphates and Phosphonates
- Quarternary Ammonium Compounds, or “QUATS”
Check out EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning to confirm if the cleaning products you are using are safe for you and the planet. Click the image below to DOWNLOAD or PRINT EWG’s Cleaner Wallet Guide.
You can also make your own home cleaners using everyday ingredients like lemon, vinegar and baking soda (for example). Check out this site for some great DIY homemade green cleaners.
2. Dish Washing
If you have a dishwasher, run the dishwasher only when it’s full and don’t rinse your dishes before you load them in the dishwasher. Believe it or not, dishwashers tend to be more eco-friendly than hand washing; but only when they are full. Also, choose the “economy” setting if one is available. Another green choice is to turn off the heat drying option and let the dishes air dry.
If you do not have a dishwasher and wash dishes by hand in a side-by-side sink, fill one side with soapy water to wash dishes and the other side with clean water to rinse them. Don’t let the faucet run when washing dishes. If you can, consider installing a low-flow aerator to save a bit more water.
3. Do Not Use Paper Towels
Step away from the paper towels. Yes, they are compostable in some areas, but they are still a drain on natural resources during production and distribution.
Try reusable dish towels and sponges instead. They are great for wiping up messes and just as absorbent.
4. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle/Repurpose
When breaking down packaging or containers when you’ve used all the product, look for items that you might be able to presuppose. For example, you might be able to find another purpose for things like jars, bottles, trays, containers.
Before we move to the recycle phase, we must first try to reduce the amount of product we use and then reuse or repurpose whatever we can.
You can use odds and ends for eco-friendly gift wrap or gift decorations. Don’t be afraid to think outside the blue box 😊
5. Start Composting
Don’t toss those veggie and fruit skins, peels, cores, and stems. Our landfills don’t need them, but our soil can certainly benefit from them. If you have an indoor or outdoor garden, use those scraps to enrich your soil and watch your plants take off.
Read NPR’s 5 Easy Steps to Composting which gives you a comprehensive breakdown of how and what to compost (with cute drawings) regardless if you live on a farm or in a tiny apartment.
6. Keep Windows Open if You Can
The air quality in your home can be harsher on your health than the air outside. Any number of common air pollutants can trigger your allergies or asthma. To keep the air as fresh as possible, open your windows whenever you can.
7. Don’t Use Traditional Air Fresheners
Traditional air fresheners tend to be made with toxic ingredients. Open the windows to keep your house smelling fresh when possible. Look for natural alternatives instead for purchase or make your own. Read this link for 8 all-natural DIY air freshener ideas. You will find 12 homemade room sprays via this link, and you’ll learn 6 natural ways to make your home smell like the holidays if you love the smell of Christmas year-round.
You must be cautious of brands waving the “natural”, or “non-toxic”, or “sustainable” flag with no transparency of their practices. This is called greenwashing and it’s a real thing. Stay alert. If you are unsure if the brand/product is truly green, you can check the product and/or ingredients at EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning to confirm if the cleaning products you are using are safe for you and the planet.
Do you incorporate any non-toxic cleaning products in your household cleaning? Have you ever tried making any of your own green cleaning solutions? If you answered yes to either of these questions, let us know in the comments. We’d love to learn about which products you use and/or which products you make.
Earth Month may end on Saturday but it’s our responsibility to keep it at the forefront of our minds every month.