I've been collecting ideas for a Greening Your Kitchen series for the last few months and am proud to bring you the first installment. I'll write a new one each week -- suggestions are always welcome via comments or email. If you like the ideas, please forward them along to your friends and family. Happy greening!
Greening Your Kitchen, Week 1: Nix The Antibacterials
Studies show that antibacterial soap is no more effective than regular soap at killing bacteria and getting things clean (and neither can kill viruses.) The same is true of antibacterial hand cleaning gels, lotions, cutting boards, sponges, etc. If you're not convinced, check out what the CDC says.
In addition, there is a good possibility that using anti-bacterial products may encourage the growth of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" against which modern medicine has no defense. That is some scary sh*t! And there are rumors that using antibacterial soap and other products may actually increase your risk of infection over time by killing off "good" bacteria and weakening your immune system. This has not been definitively proven yet but I can't think of a single reason to keep on using this junk until it is...
Despite all the technological advancements, there is just no replacement for washing your hands and surfaces well with plain old soap and water (click here for a handwashing tutorial from the Mayo Clinic.)
Your job this week is simple -- scan your kitchen and bathroom for any and all antibacterial products that may be lurking there -- hand soaps, waterless hand cleaners, lotions, sponges, and cutting boards are the most likely suspects. Then get rid of them (please recycle, if possible!)
Once you've "cleansed" your home of all antibacterial products, it's time to replace them with non-antibacterial, non-toxic, eco-friendly products (this is the fun part!) There are lots of great options available. Here are a few suggestions for great-smelling, non-toxic, eco-friendly, non-antibacterial products to try out:
- Cellulose "pop-up" sponges are biodegradable and you can run them through your dishwasher to kill bacteria if you're concerned about germs. There are a number of companies that sell these (Gaiam, Williams Sonoma, etc.) but you can always find them at Trader Joe's for cheap.
- Natural Value also sells a scrubber sponge that is made with 50% recycled materials. The only downside is that it won't last quite as long as a non-recycled one would.
- If you want something even tougher than a scrubby sponge, I strongly suggest that you try out a plastic pot and pan scraper. They are cheap, durable, and excellent at removing caked on, baked on, burnt on food from pans, pots, cookie sheets, etc. I consider these to be a "gift from the kitchen gods."
- Kiss My Face Organics - this brand has always been a favorite of mine. A few years ago they started making foaming hand soaps that are so good-smelling that you may be tempted to eat them... My favorite is the grapefruit and bergamot.
- Dr. Bronners - this company has been around forever and is very popular with the hippie set. Although the writing on the label may make you feel a little crazy, these powerful, delightful-smelling liquid soaps will do just the opposite. I am partial to the organic peppermint and bitter almond scents.
- Nature's Gate - this company has been around for a while and started an organics line several years back.
- Mrs. Meyers Clean Day - this whole line of products is eco-friendly and wonderful-smelling (soaps, lotions, cleaners, laundry detergent, wipes, countertop spray, etc.) I LOVE the lemon verbena dish soap (it smells so good you'll find yourself elbowing your way to the sink to wash the dishes) and laundry detergent.
- Seventh Generation - they offer a line of eco-friendly, non-toxic, household cleaners, baby products, and paper products. My favorite is the lemongrass and clementine zest scented dish soap.
- Ecover - same deal, a full line of non-toxic, eco-friendly household cleaners, etc. These guys have been around a long time. I like their lemon and aloe vera dishwashing liquid best.
- Avalon Organics - this is a nice line of organic personal care products. I like their lavender hand and body lotion.
- Kiss My Face Organics - they make great lotions. I like their lavender & shea butter, olive & aloe, and Vitamin E scents best.
- Dr. Bronner's - they make nice soaps and lotions, including a bunch of organic options. They're all nice smelling though I tend to gravitate towards the lavender ones (can you tell???)
- Bon Ami - this old standy is environmentally-friendly (phosphate and chlorine-free) and will get the job done. Remember, "hasn't scratched yet."
- BioKleen - this company also offers a full line of eco-friendly cleaners. Their citrus-scented all-purpose cleaner is very concentrated and divine smelling.
- Citra-Solv - they offer another earth-friendly line of cleaners. This one is great at getting out stains and cutting grease, in particular.
- Bambu - uses organic bamboo to make their products. See my green holiday gift guide for more info on this company.
- Any plastic or wooden cutting board that is not impregnated with antibacterial agents would be preferable to one that is. You should be able to buy one at your local grocery store or at B,B & E, Ikea, Target, or any of the other big box stores.
- Mayo Clinic - Hand Washing - An Easy Way to Prevent Infection
- WebMD - Plain Soap As Good As Antibacterial
- CDC - Antibacterial Household Products: Cause for Concern (includes actual study data)
- New York Times - Germs, Germs Everywhere. Are You Worried? Get Over It
- Slay the Energy Vampires
- Plant an Herb Garden
- Buy In Bulk
- Grow Your Own Garlic
- Say 'Buh-Bye' to Bottled Water
- BYOB (Bring Your Own Bags)
- How To Choose the "Right" Milk
- Skip the BPA, Switch to Glass Storage Containers
- Forget Free-Range, Buy Pasture-Raised Eggs From a Local Farm
- Buy BPA-Free Tomatoes & Beans