Monday, November 17, 2014

The Sustainable Kitchen

I read this article on 13 Kitchen Rules You're Probably Breaking. Sometimes the articles, like this, are almost condescending in their very simplistic recommendations. Sometimes, I wonder, who still lives like that.

That, and also, it seems like they're really stretching to get in more "rules." Like, sometimes, it seems like they could combine rules. #11 and #12 could just be "Check appliance filters." #8 just seems like fear-mongering. The problem cited in the article with dish towels and dish sponges was pretty much the same.

Based on the assumption that people might, really, be making these mistakes and in an attempt to make the suggestions more eco-friendly, I decided to write my own version, but, unfortunately, I don't have 13 items. I only have 9.

Here are my Nine Tips for Avoiding Common Kitchen Mistakes and Making One's Kitchen more Eco-Friendly.

1. Don't have a dishwasher (while there is still a debate about water usage in hand washing versus machine washing, the fact is that dishwashers still use more electricity than hand washing, which makes the latter more eco-friendly in the long run).

2. Eggs, actually, don't belong anywhere in the refrigerator - at least 'fresh' eggs don't. Eggs have a natural coating when they come out of the chicken's oviduct that keeps bacteria from getting into the egg, and it's only by washing them that the bacteria gains access. A newly laid, unwashed egg, will stay fresh on the counter for three weeks.

3. Toss the sponge and use a washcloth for dishes and general cleaning in the kitchen. Knitted ones from leftover yarn or from repurposed old t-shirts are both eco-friendly and sustainable.

4. Knives and every other dish should be hand washed in warm, soapy water ... and, actually, some kitchen tools should never be put into soap - like wood cutting boards and cast iron cookware. Wood does not harbor bacteria, and as long as the food is scraped off (under hot running water), there's no danger of contamination (but for the squeamish, it might be worthwhile to have TWO cutting boards - one for meat products and one for foods that will be eaten raw). Soap degrades cast iron.

5. While dish towels may harbor bacteria and washing them frequently is a good idea, seeing bacteria as our enemy is foolhardy. The fact is that there is such a thing as good bacteria, and contrary to what this article would like us to believe, eliminating all bacteria from our lives is not possible, and probably not advisable. In fact, we want some. We can minimize the risks associate with bad bacteria by making some smart choices. Air drying dishes is a good start. And just say no to bleach. Just. say. no.

7. The debate over the best way to brew coffee proved manual coffee brewing techniques to be superior to automatic coffee brewing methods. As such, how to clean the coffee maker is somewhat moot, and plus, a coffee press using water heated on the woodstove is far more eco-friendly than even the most efficient method of automatic coffee maker. If you want a good cup of coffee, hand brew it. You'll never put water in that automatic drip coffee maker again. Guaranteed.

8. Fix the leaky faucet, because it leaks and it's wasteful. Is there really need for a different reason?

9. In the interest of being sustainable and eco-friendly, maybe NOT using cleaning products at all is a better solution. Vinegar and baking soda are multipurpose, eco-friendly, and safe cleaning/sanitizing solutions.

If you were going to write an article about errors people make in the kitchen, what would you add/omit?


  1. :) I like your rules better. Can't microwave my sponges - I don't use sponges or a microwave!

  2. I have always wanted a gray water system, a good way to conserve water. Just divert hand washing/dishwashing water to a cistern, barrel or hose to water plants, etc...