Home sweet home – I’ve always love that saying. There is something wonderful about coming to place where you can feel safe, peaceful and rejuvenated. With all of the known dangers out in the big world, home can be a wonderful respite. Sadly, we are bombarded on a daily basis with the news of things that can harm us. Unfortunately some of those things can be found in our safe haven…our home.
Instead of throwing up our hands in frustration, I believe in the power of getting educated and making small changes with big impact on or health and environment. Here are three small changes that can improve the quality of life in your home sweet home.
To maintain a healthy eco-friendly kitchen the first place to start is to get replace any products that contain ammonia and bleach. Both of these ingredients are clearly labeled as toxic and do not belong in the same room where you prepare food. While small exposures to these toxins may simply irritate your breathing, skin and eyes, it can be very harmful to young children and anyone with a compromised immune system. There is a reason the labels say “poison”. There are better, safer ways to clean up in green style.
Another very important reason to skip the commercial brand in your kitchen is that they wreak havoc on our environment. Just think of the runoff into our drains, water supply and eventually our local water systems, lakes, rivers and oceans.
Here are some safer alternatives that I use in my very own kitchen. Not only will you turn your kitchen green, but you will save some ‘green’ along the way.
- Borax – aka sodium borate, is a naturally occurring compound that disinfects when used as a cleaning agent– Simply use anywhere you would use commercial brand abrasive. You can make a pretty fabulous cleaning paste by mixing together a paste of borax and natural liquid soap.
- Distilled White Vinegar
- Baking Soda
- Plant-based liquid soap (with no fragrance)
- Olive Oil
The food choices you make every day can help to create a greener kitchen for you and your loved ones. One of the most profound changes you can make is to begin to educate yourself about what you are REALLY eating on a daily basis. The best tool you have to create a green healthy eating life is to read the labels on everything you buy and to choose more things that don’t even have labels, other than those cute little stickers, i.e. fruits and veggies.
When it comes to buying produce, there is a coding system that is universally used in the industry to indicate whether an item has been grown organically, conventionally (read: with pesticides), or in a lab. Here are the codes you will find in all stores:
- Organically grown food has five digits and starts with #9
- Conventionally grown food always has four digits
- Genetically grown food has five numbers and will start with the #8 or #3
To keep it simple, I always remember to look for the nine! And whether you choose organic or not, always remember to thoroughly wash your fruits and vegetables with either a store bought natural produce wash or simply use a bit of plant based soap and wash any residue or dirt away before eating.
When it comes to storing food in our fridge or pantry, we have been taught over the years that plastic is the way to go. We’ve learned that the “burp” of the trusty Tupperware is what we need to watch for to keep foods fresh and healthy. Today, we know about some of the dangers of plastic when it comes to food storage. The two main words that have come to light are Phthalates and BPA.
Phthalates are a type of additive that is used to make plastic softer and more flexible. They are also found in a wide variety of other places like cosmetics and cleaning materials. They are even found in some foods like milk, meat and butter! There has been much controversy as to the safety of phthalates and its effect as an endocrine disruptor , especially in younger children.
Personally, I understand that we are exposed to so many toxins in our environment, and you may ask “does this REALLY make a difference”. Well, as the mother of a young child I am always looking for ways to reduce the toxic burden in my home and in our lives. Choosing to eliminate plastics is a simple way to create a cleaner, greener kitchen in my home.
BPA – Bisphenol A – is used to make plastics such as water bottles, food can lining and sports equipment. BPA, another endocrine disrupter has been linked to obesity , neurological issues , and because of its levels of estrogen levels, has even been linked to breast cancer , among other conditions.
Yes, this seems like a pretty bad situation. However there is good news. Choosing alternative storage is healthier and actually less expensive. Here are some great ways to eliminate Phthalates and BPA in your kitchen.
- Choose stainless steel and glass containers – I like to keep glass jars from food products such as olive and pickle containers. These make wonderful storage containers for grains, nuts and anything else you can think of. I even use an apple sauce jar for my daily green smoothie on the go.
- Mason jars make great cups and storage jars.
- There are non-leaching PBA free plastic alternatives showing up at markets around the country due to high demand. If your store doesn’t carry one, make sure to let the manager know you are interested.
What are some ways you are “greening” your kitchen?
(Photo: elanaspantry )