Be green and clean this holiday season
Reading the media you might think that our kitchens are about to kill us. Salmonella, E. coli, a large variety of germs—there’s all sorts of nastiness lurking around the cooking area, waiting to attack. This image alone is enough to make you cave into a scary type of fear, the kind that will make you adopt the habit of cleaning and disinfecting everything. And that can turn into a dangerous game, as too much cleanliness can take a toll on our immune systems.
There is another way, the green way, since it’s the color of the season. Reasonable daily care and attention can make your kitchen shine bright like the tree lights. And it can be your gift of green to your kitchen this holiday season. A green mindset doesn’t mean you need to overhaul your cooking routine or change your menu to vegan. Instead, there are small changes you can make that are simple and effective.
- Green cleaning style – this rule is good all year round, not just during the holidays. It’s a smart choice for your home’s health and your family’s. Opt for eco-friendly cleaning products, or go for the popular baking soda and white vinegar mix for most of your cleaning needs. Here’s a double win: using DIY cleaners, helps you save some money too.
- Disposables – no. I know it’s tempting to use plastic plates, cups, utensils for holiday parties (less to clean, especially when the entire family comes together), but don’t. It’s practical at picnics, but not at all green and definitely not stylish. However, if you really have to use disposables, go for the ones that are made of recycled material – these can be recycled or composted after use.
- Compost your scraps – if you’re planning on hosting the Christmas party, you’ll be peeling plenty of potatoes, squash, root vegetables and whatever else you enjoy. Try composting them instead of putting them all in the trash. Have twice the gain: cut down on what goes into the landfill, and help your future crops or public spaces be healthier next spring. And no, you cannot use as excuse that you don’t have space for a composter of your own, the Environmental Protection Agency has a tool to help you find a program in your area.
- The silverware – you’ll want to bring it out for this holiday season, but this year skip the bottle of chemicals (read silver polish) and head to the shelf with baking ingredients. Baking soda, salt, white vinegar, and some aluminum foil is all you need to start an eco-friendly polishing session.
- Choose glass over plastic. Glass containers have several qualities that make them ideal for your household. They are safe for the microwave, but also easily recyclable. They won’t get scratched up from use and leech chemicals.
- Invite electronically. I love the feeling of the classic paper invite, but for a holiday party the digital invite is easy to handle and the most eco-friendly. Choose form Paperless Post, Pingg or Red Stamp to send beautifully designed invitations via email.
- Paper towels – as convenient as they are, paper towels are the biggest eco-offenders. Switch to cloth diapers and you won’t regret it.
- Stock on local wine and beer – maybe this is the most entertaining part in throwing a holiday party. And you know what? You can cut down the carbon footprint by purchasing wine, beer, and spirits from local companies. Again, you’ll have a double benefit from it: you’ll support businesses in your community, and you’ll be going green by cutting down on how far your liquor has to travel. Use the same strategy when you are invited at someone’s party—shop as local as you can and offer a green story with your bottle.
- Gifts wrapping – keep in mind that much of the glossy or laminated gift wrap can’t be recycled. Neither can many of the ribbons, especially those with wire mesh. Paper grocery bags, newsprint, or other natural-fiber are great alternatives, as are gift bags that can be used several times.
Of course, the list can be completed with a variety of green habits. Would you like to add to the list?