Part of the Series: Greening Up Your Living Spaces

To this point in the series we have looked at greening up the bathroom and laundry room.  Some may think that making these small changes don’t make much difference in the reduction of carbon, but it is much more than that.  I mentioned early on that my first concern was reducing the nasty chemicals that touched our skin and entered our indoor environment every day. That is reason enough to make a switch.

These changes happened over years.  The first step was awareness. Looking back on the journey, I think the first thing I did was eliminate paper towels.  To be transparent, I still buy a roll every year or two. I began collecting cloth napkins about 35 years ago and have quite the stack going. I would have to go through them all to find any suitable to use for company, but we don’t entertain in our RV so who cares that they may be stained.

Growing up and into the first years of my married life, we always had a stack of paper plates in the cupboard.  It never really made sense to me because you had to wash everything else.  Plates were probably the easiest to wash. That was an easy one to eliminate. I have also created a party box that serves 20 and includes ceramic plates, bowls, cups, cloth napkins, and utensils to use for meetings or parties. And let’s not forget the cloth table clothes. Most were purchased at a second hand store.

Gradually I switched from using plastic baggies and aluminum foil to glass and reusable screw top containers. I also have all my dry goods, like beans, grains, and rice, in reused glass jars.

I had a bit of a struggle replacing the dish soap.  First I tried using castile soap, like Dr. Bronner, but it did not produce suds.  This was not pleasant to me because now I could see the bits of food floating around in dirty water. Maybe that is the purpose of the suds (ha).

Then I tried off the shelf plant-based dish soap, but it still had the plastic issue and some added stuff I could not identify. Now I use a castile soap recipe that calls for Sal Suds, which is a product by Dr. Bronner that produces suds.

  • 1 part Sal Suds
  • 3 parts water
  • 20 drops of essential oil

On the sink is also a dish soap bar.  You put it on your dish cloth much like you would bar soap on a washcloth in the shower.  It proved to be too cumbersome for doing all dishes, but I do use it for those quick clean ups.

Sponges have been replaced with cellulose Swedish dish clothes which are compostable, and scrubby pads made from loofah.  Since the sink in the RV is stainless steel, a mixture of dish soap, vinegar and water work great for cleaning – as well as the fridge, stove, and counters. But I am ready to explore other options as more become available.

I will rely on those of you with a dishwasher to share what you have done to reduce or eliminate the chemicals in detergent.

There is still room for improvement, like finding affordable compostable garbage bags, but only after I have used up the Costco quantity garbage can bags that I am using now.

Links to other articles in this series:

What else can we do? Leave your stories below.

cookbook challenge