Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

I'm always looking for ways to make my kitchen more eco-friendly. I especially like environmentally-friendly choices that save money. Two of my favorite ways to "green" my kitchen are shown below.

1) I once saw a tv show where they calculated that a family of four spent $700 a year on paper towels. I doubt we spent one third that much but even so I have many better things to do with hundreds of dollars than buying paper towels. I was looking at some of the fancy paper towel alternatives you can buy but ended up cutting up some old flannel sheets to make some rags to use in place of paper towels. I keep a basket of these rags in both the kitchen and the bathroom and wash them with the regular laundry. I still use regular paper towels occasionally but I estimate that we use less than a quarter of the paper towels we previously used.

2) I am sure there is a landfill somewhere filled with all the plastic water bottles I used to toss. sigh Finally I bought an inexpensive Brita water pitcher and change the filters every 3-4 months. I can always tell when to change the filters because I can start tasting the water. I recycle blue glass water bottles to store the extra water. We have very hard water so I now also use filtered water for the pets (Bubbles my house rabbit and Jack the cat) and to water all my plants.

My future green kitchen goals include buying some glass containers to substitute for plastic food storage containers and checking out Cuisinart's new green cookware. I don't use nonstick cookware but I'd love to find something that works like nonstick for browning tofu. I currently use a Le Creuset enameled skillet that was recommended by America's Test Kitchen which is a little better but not perfect. I also want to research new methods to compost indoors as I live in bear country. I tried vermicomposting a few years ago but had trouble keeping it going properly.

Here's a simple nontoxic cleaner I like for my kitchen:


I use this for everything except glass and granite. I've also made this with tea tree oil instead of the peppermint to clean my yoga mat and with cedarwood instead of peppermint to clean the wood surfaces in my house. For greater cleaning power you can add 1 tsp. washing soda (found near the laundry products in the supermarket) and use hot water to help mix the washing soda with the rest of the ingredients. Don't use washing soda for the yoga mat version of this cleaner though.

1 tsp. liquid peppermint castile soap (Trader Joe's has the least expensive castile I've found)
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
10 drops peppermint essential oil

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture.

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