Growing Green: 3 Simple Tips to Go Green in the Kitchen

Today is the beginning of an exciting new series in honor of Earth month.  Over the next four weeks, I’ll be working with Christine at I Dream of Clean, Michelle at The Frugal Seed and Lori at Laurel of Leaves, to share simple tips to green your lifestyle.  Each week has a theme starting with this week’s – GO Green.  We’re going to walk you through everything from greening your kitchen and bedroom to composting and making your own cleaning supplies.

To kick it off, here are 3 easy steps you can take today to go green in your kitchen.

1.  If you’ve ever visited my blog, you probably know how much I love natural cleaning products.  I can clean my entire bathroom with nothing more than white vinegar, baking soda and a lemon.  The same is true for the kitchen and it’s even more important in this areas of the house.  If you buy even some organic produce and then prepare it on surfaces cleaned with harsh chemicals then you’ve undone much of the good of buying the organic produce to begin with.  So tip #1 is to make the switch to natural cleaning products.  If you don’t trust homemade products I recommend Seventh GenerationI use their dish soap and dishwasher detergent.  For counter tops, the stove and the fridge I turn to my trusty vinegar, baking soda and lemon.  Here’s how it works.

This was my kitchen sink after cleaning up the dinner dishes the other night.  You can’t see it very well, but I have some spots on the faucet from hard water and the basins have lines and marks from the breakfast and lunch dishes that sat all day.  So I start with the baking soda because I know I need the scrubbing power.

I sprinkle baking soda all over the sink basins, the edges and even the faucet.  Then I spray it with my mix of white vinegar and water and let it sit a few minutes.  The fizzing action starts to lift some of the food and stains.

Next I scrub the sink with a textured rag.  The mixture of baking soda, vinegar and water makes a paste that doesn’t scratch the sink, but helps lift all the rings and stuck on food.  Once I’ve scrubbed it clean I rinse it with hot water until there is no more white residue from the baking soda.

Now it’s shiny, clean and disinfected.  If the hard water spots are bad I rub them with 1/2 a lemon, rinse, spray with the vinegar, wipe and rinse again.

Here are a few other suggestions for naturally cleaning the kitchen.

  • The vinegar/water mixture is also great for disinfecting counter tops, inside the fridge and any kitchen appliances.
  • When I’m working with raw meat I will usually spray the counter down with hydrogen peroxide once I’m finished and wipe it clean/dry.  Then I spray it down again with the vinegar/water mixture and wipe that clean/dry.  This is a double dose of disinfectant and germ killing power and gives me peace of mind that the counters are clean and safe for food and little hands.
  • I use my steam cleaner for the floor.  It’s great at lifting up sticky, stuck on food and scuff marks from chairs and shoes.

2.  I don’t know about you guys, but our kitchen was stocked about 10 years ago through wedding shower gifts.  Unfortunately, we didn’t know then what we know now so we had a lot of pots, pans, and bowls that needed to be replaced and we just couldn’t afford to replace everything at once.  Over the last 3 years, I’ve been working to slowly replace cookware and storage containers that contain harmful chemicals that can leach into our food.  I started with Tupperware and we’ve now replaced it all with glass storage containersNext, we’re working on cookware.  I have two Bialetti Aeternum nonstick pans that I absolutely love!  They are free of all the scary nasty chemicals that normally make cookware “nonstick” but are really easy to use and clean.  Unfortunately, they aren’t dishwasher safe.  I plan to invest in more of these or to add them to my Christmas list.  The rest of my pans are basic aluminum.  I threw all of our Teflon out about years ago.  For baking, I use a silpat mat on aluminum cookie sheets.  It prevents sticking and it’s easy to clean.  My philosophy here again is that if I’m investing in organic food I don’t want to spoil it by introducing chemicals when I store it or cook it.  I know what a slow process it can be for those of us who can’t afford to replace everything all at once, but it can be done over time.  When a pan wears out or you realize you no longer have lids for any of your Tupperware – replace it with a safer option.  Eventually, your cookware will be as clean as the organic food your preparing in it.

3.  Recycle. We started recycling about 8 years ago because our neighborhood provided recycling containers and picked them up with the trash.  There really was no good excuse not to do it.  It became habit so when we moved to a new town that didn’t offer curbside recycling we found the local recycling center and would stock up and drop off.  My husband estimates we cut our weekly trash in half through recycling.  If your town doesn’t have curbside pick up do a quick search.  There are a lot of independent businesses that offer recycling services for a small fee.  If not, you can usually find a recycling center close by where you can drop off.  It’s not convenient, but if you save up in big bins and drop off once a month it’s not too bad.  Recycling reduces waste and the need for local landfills, it protects the environment and wildlife, helps prevent global warming, protects natural resources and even creates jobs.  There are lots of good reasons to do it and it’s a great way to GO green.

Of course, there’s tons more we can do, but these are just 3 simple tips to get your started.  Clean green, cook and store in chemical free kitchenware and recycle. 

My next green challenge in the kitchen is paper towel waste!  There so convenient and they don’t add to my laundry pile, but we’ve been slowly stocking up on inexpensive rags and dishtowels and cutting way back on our paper towel use.  We haven’t eliminated them completely, but we’re getting there.  What do you think?  Would you ever give up paper towels in your kitchen?

Don’t forget to visit the blogs below for more tips on GOing Green!

I Dream of Clean – making your own cleaning products

The Frugal Seed – greening your bedroom

Laurel of Leaves – go green outdoors (compost, rain barrels, etc)

Stop by next Monday for tips to help you SAVE green!

*This post contains affiliate links.

 

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Comments

  1. I’m working to replace all of my plastic storage containers as well. I scored a bunch of great Mason jars at the thrift store recently!

  2. Love these tips. My mom bought me some stainless steel cookie sheets a few years ago. Every year I buy more (now I have a pizza pan and a small brownie 8X8 pan). I have replaced all my cookware with stainless steel frying pans (but I do have to use more oil; maybe I will try your suggestion). And I only use glass containers besides my BPA free cold storage containers for lunches. I will probably toss those, too, though. Thanks for the tips!

  3. I was so excited to see that you cleaned the hard water spots with a lemon that I went out and bought some. It didn’t work for me! The spots are still there:(

  4. I am so loving this movement we are having toward really utilizing natural inexpensive ingredients for cleaning.

    I would much rather save my moo lah on cleaning products to be able to buy a great new handbag or have a pedi!

    I absolutely love the smell of vinegar! It smells so fresh & clean. (Hint: the smell disappates in a few minutes for those who don’t care for the smell)

    Super post! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  5. Courtney says:

    I’m going to try the lemon, vinegar, and baking soda trick.
    I’ve been trying different cleansers for the water spots nothing is working, hopefully this will work :) thank you

  6. I’m with you! Just in the past few months I’ve given up dryer sheets, toilet paper (we now just use the flushable moist towelettes, parchment paper, waxed paper, plastic wrap, plastic storage and freezer bags, disinfecting wipes, Dixie cups, paper plates, disposable coffee cups, garbage bags (I now just re-use the plastic grocery bags, even though I hate to see those go to the landfill you have to put your garbage in something), and yes even paper towels! Giving all of these disposable products up is saving me a ton of money and it’s less I have to haul home from the grocery store :)

  7. A couple of years ago we bought a pkg of white restaurant napkins at Sam’s Club. They were really big so I cut them into 4 pieces and hemmed the edges. I gave some to both of my daughters for their family. We have plenty to use for all 3 meals and wash them with a load of towels about once a week. They didn’t increase the size of the load of towels. Even though they’re small, they are big enough for even messy meals. I’m planning the same with bar towels or white kitchen towels from Sam’s to replace paper towels. I’ll cut them smaller because rarely do we need more than a half sheet paper towel. I have made cloth baggies for my husband’s lunch. After using them he just turns them inside out and throws them in with the napkins/towels. I would love to replace the plastic containers he takes in his lunch, especially since he heats them in the microwave. I know that’s not good at all. But what could I replace them with? Glass isn’t very practical for a lunch bag. :p

    • broccolicupcake says:

      There are great tips Elaine. For packing lunches, there are plastic options that are BPA free and sturdy enough to reuse for years and years. There are also glass options made with rubber wraps that are supposed to prevent breakage. Another options would be food grade stainless steel, like the Eco Lunch Box Pod, but you can’t microwave that. I’d avoid microwaving plastic. Maybe keep a glass plate at work to microwave the food on that can be washed and reused. You can find most of these products on Amazon. There usually pricey compared to other lunch packing options, but I think you save money in the long run. It’s a one time investment of $10-$20, but we’d probably spend a lot more than that on plastic containers or baggies over time and these are better for us and the environment. Hope that helps.

  8. The cleaning tips are ones I grew up with. I was interested in the Aeternum Bialetti cookware and was sad when I found it’s made in China.

  9. How can I take out hard water stains from my granite countertop.

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