The kitchen is the heart of your home. So it will come to no surprise when I say there is so much time and energy spent in this one room of house. You want this space to be healthy and enjoyable to all your family and friends. On the flip side, the kitchen can be one of the most toxic places in your home because of dangerous chemicals in cabinetry, products, and energy sucking appliances. But you can minimize all of this by taking steps to green your kitchen. Here are some simple tips to saving money, energy, and the environment.
GO NATURAL WITH KITCHEN CLEANERS
Many brands of dish soaps and cleaners contain harmful chemicals and non-biodegradable pollutants such as petroleum and phosphates. Not only are these chemicals toxic to humans but they are bad for the environment. Try choosing products that are plant based, biodegradable, and perfume-free. You can even take it one step further by making your own household cleaners. Natural household cleaners are just as effective in killing unwanted bacteria. When choosing products think about what you are putting on counters and what is going down the drain. With a healthy approach and a little elbow grease, you will have one clean green kitchen.
Homemade Cleaning Products:
Baking soda-One of the most basic and useful cleaning product in your home. It is a mild abrasive that won’t scratch surfaces and has a natural deodorizing properties.
Vinegar–Makes a great spray cleaner. It is acidic and dissolves soap scum and grease. Mix 1 cup water and 1 cup vinegar in a spray bottle. It will clean counters, cabinets, floors, and even glass. Don’t worry about the “Easter egg” smell; it will go away once it dries. Oh, and no need to rinse, just let it dry. Also, if you mix baking soda and vinegar together it will make a great paste to keep the sink drains running smoothly.
Lemons- Not only are lemons natural, they smell great. You can use it as a deodorizer by chopping up a whole lemon and grinding it up in the garbage disposal. Makes the whole room smell very clean. Lemons can help remove rust. Sprinkle the stain with salt and lemon, leave in for a few hours then scrub away the rust. You can also make furniture polish by using 1 cup of mineral oil and ¬¨Œ© cup of lemon juice.
Ammonia- Very versatile and inexpensive, it is great on windows, chrome, and mirrors. You can make a spray of 1 cup rubbing alcohol, 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon of clear ammonia.
Bleach- If you want a mold or mildew product, make your own by using ¬¨√¶ cup bleach and a gallon of water. You can also clean tile floors with this mixture as well.
ENERGY EFFICIENT APPLIANCES
Appliances account for 20% of you energy bill. Installing newer, more efficient models can save you money. Look for the ENERGY STAR when purchasing kitchen appliances. Most appliances made before 1993 will use twice as much energy than the new models. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimates that if each of us increases the energy-efficiency in our major appliances by 10-30%, we will release the demand for electricity by the equivalent of 25 large power plants!
If your current refrigerator is more than 10 years old, an ENERGY STAR replacement can save as much as 50% in energy cost. Here is a fun fact for you-a new ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator uses less energy than a 60-watt bulb running continuously. Take your old fridge to a recycling center. You can go to www.earth911.com to find a recycling center near you.
ENERGY STAR-rated dishwashers use far less water than standard models and are even more efficient than washing by hand. The dishwashers nowadays can thoroughly clean dishes that have food sraped off of them that you don’t even have to use water to rinse them.
Kitchen fixtures are some of the most frequently used lighting in a home. Look for ENERGY STAR fixtures and use LED bulbs to save 75% less energy. Now that’s a bright idea!
Countertops, flooring, or cabinets –
Think sustainable and safe. Avoid products like granite that are unsustainable, and stay away from potentially harmful products like laminates, which can’t be recycled and off-gas formaldehyde or VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Choose recyclable stainless steel or locally-sourced concrete. Seek out wood that’s been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for responsible foresting practices. Also consider bamboo, whose fast-growing properties make it one of today’s most popular and sustainable choices for home materials.
Electric ranges and cooktops with induction elements, such as the
or models with ceramic glass surfaces with halogen elements, use much less energy than stoves with traditional coil elements. If you want a gas range, look for models with the least BTU output for the highest energy efficiency.
RETHINK YOUR DISPOSABLES
The kitchen produces the most waste in the house. It is important to recycle and reduce use of consumables.
Install a water filter-Reduce water bottle waste by installing a reputable water filter on the kitchen tap.
Reusable dishcloths-Instead of paper towels, buy a stack of reusable dishcloths for cleaning and cloth napkins for the table. Wash them in cold to save a few trees!
Cookware-Use stainless steel or cast iron cookware and utensils that will last you for years.
Storage-Use glass or BPA-free usable plastic to store food in.
Reusable bags-Instead of using plastic bags that will litter the landfill. Use canvas or recycled bags for groceries. They are easy to store and can be used over and over again.
We know that the eco-friendly kitchen begins with eating green, but it doesn’t end there. Energy-efficient food preparation and cleaning habits, using equipment made from sustainable materials, and dodging toxic chemicals are also important if you want to have a truly healthy kitchen. Fortunately, making the right choices for your well-being is also good for the pocket and the planet.