I used to scoff at quotes about the kitchen being a gathering place and the center of the home. Growing up, our kitchen was too small to do more than the necessary cooking and washing dishes – the dining room was more of our gathering place. But now I have a huge kitchen with a dining table in the corner, and I’ve found that I do spend most of my time in there.
I wash dishes. I put away dry dishes. I make breakfasts. I pack lunches. I cook dinners. I scope out recipes. I do laundry. I stock the fridge. I evaluate our cabinets and make grocery lists. I clean the stovetop. I water the plants.
It sounds like a bunch of small tasks, but it adds up to be a big chunk of my day. We sleep in our bedrooms at night, and hang out in the living room after school, but every morning and every evening we’re together in the kitchen.
Going green in the kitchen has probably been the easiest part of this transition.
- I use the washing machine, which is in the kitchen, but not the dryer, which, as you know, is in the shop. I only do two loads a week, and my machine is efficient and only uses enough water to cover whatever size load I put in.
- I handwash dishes, and I’ve watered down the dish soap. I’ve read that it’s not recommended (by the dish soap companies, of course) and that it’s good to do to use less, so… I do it. I fill a foaming soap dispenser 1/3 full of dish soap, then almost 2/3 full of water (leave a little room for it to bubble when mixed, and to put the lid back in). One pump on a couple of dishes, or a few pumps into the sink of water and you’re good to go. It still bubbles up as much as dish soap in the sink, but you’re using less soap.
- I use cotton knit washcloths to wash dishes, and I’ll keep a spare around to wipe down surfaces (or use a compostable washcloth – I’m on my second in over two years, so I highly recommend them).
- I save glass containers (from sauces, condiments, coffee drinks, etc) to store leftovers – including leftover coffee! If I have some left over in my pot when I’m ready to leave for work, I pour it in a glass bottle and have it the next day as cold coffee.
- I pack our lunches in glass or metal lunch containers. I just bought some fabric zipper bags for dry snacks and chips, so I’m excited to try those, too!
- I try to buy as little as possible that has been wrapped in plastic. I look for boxed items with no inside wrapper, glass jars and bottles, and don’t put my produce in any sort of bag.
- I compost our food scraps. I’ll be honest – I still have a lot of research and work to do when it comes to composting, but if nothing else, at least animals are eating it right now instead of it rotting in the landfill. This, along with gardening (to grow fruits and vegetables, which goes along with the kitchen theme!) are things I plan to research and implement over the next year.