I have always had a passion for caring for our planet since I was little. When in high school and beginning of college I used to only buy detergents and bathroom products that “seemed” eco-friendly and healthy. I was still very naïve at this time. Recently I have grown more conscious as to what I use around home to clean, items I buy, the harms it may be causing to our environment and to my family, and so on. I am not where I want to be with my conscious journey but I am happy to say that we, my family and I, are heading in the right direction. Here is my journey to a sustainable kitchen.
Reuse. Reduce. Recycle.
Recently I started watching more closely all the waste that we go through on a weekly basis coming from our kitchen alone. I quickly realized we had to do something about it. I am still working my way to there but I have made some good progress that I am happy about. First change I did was recycle. I recycle all our cans, plastic jugs, glass bottles, cardboard, etc. I even started reusing some items such as the coffee containers and coffee creamer containers. The coffee containers I now use as food storage for my birds food, to keep my dog treats in, my sugar glider’s treats and dried meal worms, crayons, coloring pencils, puzzle pieces, and other small items. They are also very convenient for camping to store items in like small bottles. Whatever I don’t use I recycle.
Our main waste is left over food. Who knew we threw away so much left over food on a weekly basis. About a bag full each week. So sad. I have now gone to the extent of doing a better meal plan for the week, cook better proportions, lunch for the next day is usually left overs, etc. Our sugar glider helps eat any left over veggies that aren’t good for human consumption but still good for his consumption like white rice, veggies, and fruits that have no seasoning on them.
Another way I plan to tackle this problem is by creating a vermi-compost bin. Wish I had done this sooner cause not only will this help reduce our waste but it will make excellent top soil for my gardens. The vermi-compost bin is still in the works but once I have it all figured out I will share it with you all here. Make sure to follow my journey on Instagram to see more.
The other change I made was what I used to clean. I didn’t realize how many brands used animal testing, were toxic to our waters (and our skin), and had harmful chemicals. Now I only buy items that I know will be good for both me and the environment. It’s easier then what you think. Read the labels and look for eco-friendly, biodegradable, no dyes, no toxic chemicals, vegan, organic, no animal testing, etc. These are all keywords to get you heading towards the right direction in your sustainable journey. Here are a few of my favorite.
Kitchen Trash Bags
Did you know that the majority of trash bags are made out of plastic? Yes! And sadly they won’t recycle them. At least they won’t in the waste management here by me. This is an easy fix though. You can buy biodegradable trash bags and with your recycling and reusing items most of your trash will be to a minimum. Here is a few that I like to use.
- Seventh Generation – Even though these bags are still plastic they are made from 55% recycled plastic with 16% post-consumer recycled plastic content. In other words if every household in the USA replaced just one package of 50 count trash bags made from virgin plastic with one that is 55% recycled, you can save 403,000 barrels of oil. This is enough energy to heat and cool over 23,000 US homes for an entire year.
- Green Earth – These bags are compostable and biodegradable. I like these bags cause they are biodegradable which is awesome but when using them make sure to not put liquids in them or too much liquid in them as they will start to degrade.
- Unni – These bags are compostable and biodegradable too but seem to be more sturdy then the previous one. They both are very good options though. Same issue with liquids but still as eco-friendly and planet loving as we like it.
I had no idea how many chemicals can be in our detergents, especially our dishwashing detergents. I have tried a few options and none have seemed to fail me yet. Remember to recycle the plastic bottles. 😉 (Just in case… these are for your dishwasher.)
- Palmolive Eco+ – Yes! I did say Palmolive! I was just as amazed when I heard that Palmolive, one of my favorite cleaning brands, had an eco and sustainable line. Easy switch for me. Their dishwashing gel is phosphate free meaning that it doesn’t have chemicals that are toxic to our lakes, rivers, streams, and even our oceans.
- Mrs. Myers – These dishwashing packs are by far the best alternative to those other chemically loaded, environmentally unfriendly dishwashing detergents. These are chlorine free and phosphate free and still remove stains and leave no streaks on your dishes. I love it this product and all of Mrs. Myers products.
- Ecos – This is the dishwashing detergent that I am currently using and I like it. The only issue I have is that it leaves some streaks on my dishes and is not as tough but it’s a very good alternative to those other chemically harsh detergents. It is free of formaldehyde and dyes. These chemicals are toxic to our environment.
I suffer of eczema and the soaps and lotions that I use play a big role in my healing process. I remember one day I was washing dishes and after finishing I looked at my hands to see what the burning sensation was. The eczema patches on my hands were inflamed and bright red. It started to itch like crazy. I immediately washed my hands with soap but it still didn’t do much. I decided to go to the bathroom and wash my hands with hand soap instead and started to feel a little relief. After applying some Vitamin E oil to my hands and cocoa butter lotion I started to feel relieved from the itch and burning sensation.
This is when I realized that I needed to change my dishwashing detergent to something more “ME” friendly. To a purer and more organic option. By doing this switch I also made an environmentally friendly change without realizing it. The harmful chemicals were irritating my skin so bad to the point that I would scratch myself during my sleep till I bled. The healing process has been a long and extensive natural process but it is much better then what it was before all thanks to my switch in dish washing liquid. Here are a few of my favorite dishwashing liquids.
- Palmolive Pure + Clear – This dish soap is biodegradable, phosphate free, soft on hands, tough on greases, and has no heavy fragrances or irritating dyes. Best of all it is hypoallergenic meaning no contact allergy or skin irritation for me.
- Ecos – Another biodegradable and earth friendly product with no harm to our environment or to me. As a mom you know we are always in the kitchen so this was another amazing option for me. It is also tough on grease.
- Mrs. Myers – This soap is tough on all stains, greases, and stubborn foods. Plus it smells amazing. My favorite is honey suckle. All of their products are eco-friendly, biodegradable, and organic. Soft on me and tough on my kitchen messes.
This was a tough one to find at first but I was so happy when I did find it in both stores and online. Who knew that sponges could be biodegradable too? Here’s my favorites.
- Twist – You probably saw me bragging about this one on Instagram. This is one of my all time favorite. This sponge is made out of plants, it is dye free, and it is hand sewn. How cool is that.
- Scotch Brite Greener – I absolutely love that this well known company has a green side to them. This sponge is contains 100% natural materials and 23% of that is recycled paper. The non-scratch scrubbing fibers are made from 50% natural agave plant. Ain’t that one very awesome sponge to have in your kitchen sink?
Let’s head over to the counter tops. With cooking, washing dishes, and little hands, our counter tops are usually the second most dirty area of our kitchen. First is the floor where our little ones spill and drop everything on. Here’s a few eco-friendly and family friendly items that are perfect for your sustainable clean kitchen.
- Caboo – I haven’t personally used this yet but I have a few sustainable friends that have and highly recommended it to me and after looking into them I can’t wait to get my bottle once my current ones finish. These wipes are natural tree free organic bamboo. These wipes are also hypoallergenic, free of alcohol, parabens, sulphates, chlorine bleach, and rayon making them safe for your skin, face, babies, and the environment.
- Mrs. Meyers – Can you tell that I am slightly obsessed with them. Here is why I love this cleaner and all of their products. They’re not just environmentally and family friendly, their items are all composed of plant derived ingredients, natural essential oils, and this specific item has birch bark extract. Their formula is composed of the basic All-Purpose cleaner formula but they added a special Vegetable Protein Extract which is a naturally fresh way to remove odors. Their cleaner is great on all surfaces even for cleaning your bathrooms, tables, spills on the floor, you name it.
I am going to be honest, I haven’t tried a new one cause I am waiting to finish my current one but I have gotten some recommendations. I prefer to use vinegar and baking soda to tackle any burnt stuff and use a small razor to scrape it off. (Put the razor at an angle to carefully not scratch the glass top.) I currently use Weiman which is a good cleaning product but it is not eco-friendly from my understanding. Once I finish those I will try some new alternatives other then my usual vinegar and baking soda combo and update it here. For the mean time these are the two options that I am looking into trying.
- Siegeclean – according to their item description, this item is all natural, organic, and environmentally friendly. They have a before and after picture on the listing but we will try it and see if it’s really as good.
- Lainnir – This will be the one that I will most likely go for. It is, non-hazardous, made with real lavender essential oil, phosphate-free, and effective without nasty chemicals. It also has some pretty amazing reviews which is a plus in my books.
Sustainable Keywords and Seals To Look For
Trust me I know the frustration. Going to the groceries store with your little one and then towards the end you just start grabbing things. Well by looking for these quick keywords, logos, and seals, you can make your sustainable shopping experience quicker and easier.
Cruelty Free or No Animal Testing
Seeing this on my label always puts a huge smile on my face. The things that animals go through for our safe consumption is horrible. If you haven’t seen it then you should check this article out. I prefer brands that don’t test on animals. There is no reason why a poor innocent, loveable creature needs to suffer for my consumption when there are better and safer options out there. Below are a few bunny logos you can trust.
This is another logo that I love to see on my bottles. When you see this logo it means that this product does not contain animal ingredients or animal by-products. To learn more about these Vegan and Cruelty Free logos you can read this article here.
By using items that have the USDA organic seal you are purchasing a product that is non-gmo, has no synthetic chemical inputs such as fertilizer, antibiotics, pesticides, etc. The use of sewage sludge has been avoided, no genetically modified seeds for harvesting. The farmlands have been free from any chemical inputs for a certain amount of years, usually three years or more. Same goes for the meat industry. These companies work hard to keep their seal by undergoing periodic on-site inspections. In other words, they are healthy, their companies work hard to prove it to you by having this seal on their products, and they are really organic just like God intended.
Safe Choice – EPA
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) works hard to keep a safe environment for all Americans. They make sure that the companies that have their seal are environmentally friendly and safe when used after purchase and during the making of the product. You can read more about it here.
Other Keywords to look for
Not everything has a seal of certification on it but usually companies that are going green or have a eco-friendly line to their products like to brag about it making it easier for us to find. Some keywords that are good to look for are…
- Biodegradable cleaning ingredients
- No Heavy Fragrances
- Septic Safe
- Gluten Free
- Phosphate Free
- Chlorine Free
- Paraben Free
- Sulfate Free
- Triclosan Free
- Ammonia Free
Eco-Friendly Materials and Ingredients To Look For
Did you know that bamboo grows significantly faster than most traditional trees? Neither did I until I researched it. Bamboo grasses grow back in as little as three to four months versus trees that can take up to 30 years to grow back. Bamboo is the best sustainable alternative in my opinion.
Bottles made out of sugar cane are biodegradable depending on the percentage. My laundry detergent bottle is 50% sugar cane which makes it 100% recyclable and still a better alternative to 100% plastic bottles.
“Essential oils are the highly concentrated versions of the natural oils in plants.” (Reference here). These oils are completely natural and safe to use. They are used to help heal the body, mind, and soul so when using it you are applying a little piece of that heavenly potion to your home.
Shopping Sustainable Products & Saving Money
Did you also know that there is an easier way to shop for all of these items? Yes!!! You can get all of your vegan, eco-friendly, sustainable items at Thrive Market and get it all directly delivered to your doorstep. All of their items are anything between 25% and 50% off of regular store price. See how this huge savings works here. The best part about it is that Thrive Market gives back to low income families. Can you imagine not being able to get your bare necessities for your family or even having to skip meals just to make ends meet. This is when Thrive comes in to help those in need. You can read more on how Thrive Gives here. If you sign up now you will get 25% off your entire first purchase. That’s 25% off the already 25%-50% off that you will be getting for shopping with Thrive Market. Get your shopping started now here.
If you have any items that you absolutely love to use please share them below. I love to try new cleaning products that are sustainable and effective. Hope this guide helps you out on your sustainable journey.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and is in no way compensated. All opinions are my own. Affiliate and referral links are posted on this post. I will receive a small commission or reward with your purchase at no additional charge to you. This will help me bring new content for you as well as covering any fees for my website to keep it running smoothly. Thank you for using my links!