A clean kitchen is a functional one, but many products we buy to keep our kitchens clean are not zero waste friendly. Luckily there are many zero waste options out there to keep your kitchen the tidiest room in your house by tackling the five key players: sponges, sprays, soaps, paper towel & gloves. Strap yourselves in cause this is a big one.
Getting rid of what you’ve got
Essentially every cleaning product in the kitchen like sponges, scourers, spray bottles, gloves and paper towel will end up in landfill. In terms of re-use, things like spray bottles and dishwashing liquid bottles are excellent to keep for bulk buying, so don’t throw them out even if they are recyclable. More difficult items to re-use like sponges, scourers and gloves require a little more creativity. An easy google search will show you a hundred ways to re-use these items! I was stupid enough to throw away my old sponges and gloves without giving it any thought, so don’t be like me and try and find a way to re-use them first before they head to the bin!
Wooden & bamboo brushes
Bamboo and wooden brushes seem like one of the best sponge alternative options out there. I’d received a Seed & Sprout bamboo brush in their Eco Starter Bundle, and have really enjoyed using it so far. These products seem to have a much longer shelf life, are actually good at scrubbing your dishes, and don’t stain. In an uncontrolled shopping binge at Teros, I bought myself a general scrubbing brush, a tough scouring brush and a vegetable brush!
Although there is metal in some of these products (therefore non-compostable), their durability will last a hell of a lot longer than a regular sponge from the store or a hand made option. We’ve been using the Seed & Sprout brush for nearly six months, and it’s still in 100% perfect condition.
Make your own scrubbies
The term scrubbies sounds stupid, but you can make your own kitchen scourers through the wonderful art of knitting or crocheting! If you’re not a crafty person, I’ll guarantee you know someone who is. Making a scrubbie is super easy, simply cast/chain on around 2o stitches and garter stitch/treble stitch until you’ve reached the scrubbie size of your liking!
In terms of the wool to use, you’ll ideally want something that is compostable. Luckily, if you’re using pure wool with no synthetic materials through it, it can be composted in small amounts! Otherwise raffia is a great material to make scrubbies with, as it’s a biodegradable product (also vegan). I had some raffia left over from making my own shopping bag from Wool & the Gang, so I quickly knitted up a few. The scrubbies I’ve made with this raffia are water repellent and an absolutely amazing scourer for those hard-to-get stains.
Making your own cleaning sprays is super duper easy. I’ve already written about this in my bathroom cleaning post, which covers recipes for both orange cleaner and an all purpose spray which can both be used in the bathroom and kitchen. If you want to learn how to make your own sprays, click here! In the meantime, start collecting old spray bottles to store your new cleaner in.
No kitchen is complete without dishwashing liquid. Luckily, dishwashing liquid is easily bulk bought from your local store. I re-use two old dishwashing liquid bottles that were originally bought from Woolworths for bulk buying. It costs around $20 to fill the two up to the brim. Top tip for Hobart locals, the lemon myrtle dishwashing liquid from Eumarrah is an absolute winner, it leaves the whole kitchen smelling like a forest.
Make your own dishwashing liquid
This is also a possibility if you have the time and money to do so. I personally haven’t ventured into the world of making my own dish liquid, mostly because it’s super easy to just buy in bulk. If it’s something you’re really keen on, a good recipe I’ve seen online is by Brendid, a non-toxic homemade dishwashing detergent. Her recipe uses ingredients that are easily bought from a bulk store and would not take long to make up!
I recently received a dishwashing soap bar by the Australian Natural Soap Company as part of Flora & Fauna’s eco box. I actually haven’t had a chance to use this product yet as we have a healthy supply of bulk bought dishwashing liquid. Essentially you grate a tablespoon of the bar into your hot water and it forms a lovely bubble. I’ve seen similar products displayed locally in some of Hobart’s sustainability friendly stores, so shop your locals first before heading online.
Not everyone has hand soap in their kitchen. But for those that do, you can also buy hand soap in bulk. We take an old lemonade bottle from a trip to the beach, and fill it up for around $5. This hand soap from Unpacked is a delicious lemon myrtle blend, which I’m just realising might be my favourite smell.
The good paper towel
When finishing up cleaning, it’s nice to give the counters a quick spray and wipe down with some paper towel. Despite being made from paper, paper towel is NOT a recyclable product. However paper towel doesn’t have to be eliminated from your cleaning routine completely, as you can actually buy compostable paper towel from Who Gives a Crap! A brilliant company with a fantastic ethos of sustainability and proper sanitation for those who need it. If you want to learn more about their products, I wrote about them in more detail in my toilet paper post, or head to their fabulously colourful website.
Just use tea towels
If you used paper towel every day, or even every few days, it would quickly build up in your composting bin. So the most obvious alternative is to just use a tea towel! We have a huge stash of tea towels (as do most people), so just make the mental switch, as they do literally the exact same thing! The only downside with tea towels, is that they most likely leak tiny microfibres into the water ways when they are washed.
A microfibre free option is with bamboo cloths! We purchased five bamboo cloths from Koala Eco, that we use to wipe down the counter tops, dry dishes and clean the sink. They are machine washable, and don’t leak any microfibres into our water ways. They are so stupidly soft and they don’t ever stain! You can find bamboo cloths everywhere online, I just went with an Australian brand that I trust.
The final step in a sustainable kitchen. If you don’t want to touch your dishes when you’re washing them (which I completely empathise with), then you probably have gloves. We have burned through a few pairs of crap Woolworths brand gloves in our time, and we were seeking something a little more durable. At a quick stop at Teros, I picked up some If You Care rubber gloves, that are a wonderful bright green colour.
These specific brand of rubber gloves are not recyclable or compostable, but I doubt that many kitchen gloves are. When these gloves are done, I’ll chop them up into rubber bands. These gloves are fair trade certified, made from 100% renewable resources and come in compostable cardboard packaging. Their motto, good for nature – good for people! Even if you don’t purchase these gloves in store, they are available online, otherwise have a look around your local, sustainability friendly stores.
Keeping a kitchen clean in a zero waste way can be tricky in this modern world, especially when we become so habitual with our cleaning routines. Luckily there are many clever solutions out there that make for an easy transition.
For ideas on how to re-use sponges, head to https://recyclenation.com/2012/09/reuse-sponges/
For ideas on how to re-use kitchen gloves, head to https://ecogreenlove.com/2015/03/12/reusing-rubbergloves/
For Seed & Sprout Eco Starter Bundle, head to https://seedsprout.com.au/products/eco-starter-bundle?
For Teros online, head to https://teros.eco/
For Wool & the Gang raffia, head to https://www.woolandthegang.com/en/products/ra-ra-raffia
For my DIY cleaning spray recipes, head to https://tassiegirlzerowaste.home.blog/2019/05/13/bathroom-cleaner/
For Australian Natural Soap Company dish & laundry soap, head to https://www.floraandfauna.com.au/the-ansc-dish-laundry-soap-200g
For Flora and Fauna’s eco box, head to https://www.floraandfauna.com.au/f-f-limited-edition-eco-box-19
For Brens recipe for homemade detergent, head to https://brendid.com/non-toxic-homemade-dish-detergent-for-hand-washing/
For Who Gives a Crap paper towel, head to https://au.whogivesacrap.org/products/forest-friendly-paper-towels-6-double-length-rolls
For my post on toilet paper, head to https://tassiegirlzerowaste.home.blog/2019/05/08/toilet-paper/
For Koala Eco bamboo cloths, head to https://koala.eco/products/bamboo-cleaning-cloth
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