Living a green life doesn’t mean you have to be a die-hard treehugger. A green life is as much about our health and well being as it is about the earth and our environment. A life with less disease and sickness through simple choices about the products we use and their impact on our bodies. We spend a lot of time at home in our kitchens. It’s the heart of the house and the one room we should consider when going green.
2. Reduce or eliminate the use of paper and disposable dinnerware. Each year the average American throws away 650 pounds of paper products. We cut down approximately 16.3 million trees every year here in the U.S. alone for this purpose. A company called Preserve makes tableware made from 100% recycled plastic. Many other manufacturers have developed PLA (polyactic acid) tableware. They are made from plants including corn, rice, wheat and sugar cane. They look and feel like plastic, so much so that we can’t tell them apart. Greenware and Harvest are two of our favorite brands.
3. Use recycled paper towels. While we are discussing paper, let’s consider paper towels. It’s estimated that over 90% of all households use paper towels. They account for 3000 tons of waste every day in America alone! Consider buying recycled paper towels. These can be found at almost every grocery store, supermarket and drug store. If each home replaced just one roll of paper towels with a recycled roll we would free up 3.4 million cubic feet of landfill space and save 864,000 trees! Another step in the right direction is to use reusable cloth towels more often. This can reduce your paper towel consumption and save you money.
4. Compost paper and food scraps. Over half of all the waste going into our landfills is paper and food waste. Food scraps contain the earth’s best fertilizer, organic matter that when placed in a landfill does not biodegrade. Composting can harness this powerful organic matter for us to use in our gardens, flower beds, or landscaping plants.
5. Filter your tap water for drinking water. Here in the U.S. we use 1.6 million barrels of oil (most of it foreign oil) just to make the plastic for bottled water every year! The bottled water industry is less regulated than the municipal water districts across America. Most use the same filtering technology you can employ at your home. And, we throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour in the U.S., but only recycle about 23%!
6. Microwave and heat foods in non-plastic containers like glass. It has been reported that some plastic containers leach bisphenol A (BPA) when heated. BPA is known as an endocrine disruptor which means it affects hormone levels, especially in children. Some studies suggest health problems as severe as cancer and heart disease. A study by the University of Cincinnati shows BPA release increased 55 times more rapidly when heat was applied. These plastic containers are known as polycarbonates and usually fall into the #7 category (see the bottom of the container). Plastics with the #1, #2 and #4 label are safer according to the Environmental Working Group. Some manufacturers have formulated their plastics to be BPA-free and safe for use in association with heat.
7. Soap, soap and more soap. We use a lot of the stuff in our kitchens for our hands, countertops and dishes. Make sure your soap is phosphate free at a minimum. High concentrations of phosphorous in our waterways cause algae to grow in unsafe ways. The algae can reduce oxygen levels in the water which kills fish. It also pollutes and makes the water more expensive to treat for drinking. Other ingredients to avoid are Triclosan, bleach, Diethanolamine (DEA), Polypropylene, Sodium Hydroxymetylglycinate, and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) – any “lauryls” actually. Go organic for hand soaps if possible and avoid the above ingredients in your surface and dish soaps.
|Going green in the kitchen helps our land, trees and water. It also provides a safer and healthier room for you and your family. And, don’t forget all the guests that tend to accumulate their when entertaining! |