Kitchen, Meet Green. Part 1

This is part 1 of an ongoing series entitled Kitchen, Meet Green

Here at Green Ninja we're always on the lookout for new ways to help make sustainable living a little easier. By finding simple ways to live more sustainably, it is our hope that a lifestyle of eco-friendly living will become second nature for ourselves and for others willing to try it.

On waste collection day, the room at Green Ninja HQ that inevitably has the most full (and usually the most stinky) garbage is our kitchen. That makes sense considering most of our waste originates in the kitchen. We all spend a lot of time in this room: cooking, baking, doing dishes, making lunches, doing dishes, eating meals, discussing our days... doing dishes. With advances in recycling and composting programs available in many municipalities, much of our "traditional" kitchen waste is diverted from landfill. But what if we can reduce our waste even more? What if we reduced the energy and materials used to initially manufacture and transport the goods we consume, and consequently bring down the costs of then transporting and processing waste and recyclables as well? Recycling is great. But reducing, re-using, and re-purposing are even better.

Let's start with a common item found in most kitchens: paper towels. Living in a paper-towel free kitchen might sound crazy, but it's actually pretty easy when you get used to the new routine. I made the switch from paper towel to reusable cleaning cloths a few years ago and never turned back. I replaced my paper towel holder with a stainless steel container that I keep filled with washable, reusable cloths. They are durable and can withstand many washes. We use these cloths for the same tasks that you would use a paper towel for: tackling spills, wiping counters, cleaning faces and hands. I even use them for doing dishes. When they are dirty, I just toss them in the wash with the next load of laundry. Once they've been cleaned, I just stuff them back into the container. No need to fold them.

Another wipe option are the super absorbent, reusable biodegradable cloths from Skoy that can take the place of up to 15 rolls of paper towel.  When it's time to retire your Skoy Cloth, toss it in the compost, not the landfill. Skoy also has a long-lasting, heavy duty scrubber made of cotton and food-grade hardeners.  The Skoy Scrub is reusable, washable and hard-working. They far out-last the traditional scouring pads that are thrown in the trash after a few uses.  

More ways to green your clean are available from Sayula a truly eco-friendly, Canadian-based company. These folks employ a Canadian-Mexican cooperative to make a line of all natural kitchen and bath products that are fairly-traded, biodegradable, pesticide-free and plastic-free. They take eco-friendly to another level by using natural materials that are sustainably grown and harvested and require little water and no pesticides or fertilizer to thrive. Products are made from Zacatron Grass and Agave. I use all these products and they hold up to many uses and many washes. For tough jobs, the dirtiest of dishes are no match for the heavy duty root brush and dish scrubber. These are both excellent bio-degradable, compostable, more sustainable scrubbers that replaces those plastic scrubbers and scouring pads that end up in the landfill after only a few uses. For lighter work, the wash clothsoap pouch and bath mitt are perfect for more delicate washing. They appear stiff at first touch but soften in the water to make the perfect exfoliating cloths. All these products carry the stamp of approval from noted grandmother, chef, farmer, and environmentalist: my Mother-in-Law.

Achieving a greener kitchen really isn't hard; it's all about new habits and reconsidering what we "need". Think minimal. Buy minimal. Waste minimal.

In the next post we'll look at new ways to handle food storage.