How Green is My Galley?

Note: One of my husband’s favorite flicks is the classic How Green Was My Valley?, which takes place in a Welch mining village at the turn of the 20th century. My title is a spin-off. (The movie is a real tear-jerker and very well-acted.)


In thinking about Earth Day, I thought I would question myself as to how green is my own galley kitchen (The word galley refers to a ship’s kitchen, which is a narrow walkway with cabinets and counters on both sides, common in apartments like mine.)  So here is short list of things I am now doing and how I can improve.  Please send me your ideas for making a cleaner, greener kitchen in the Comments.

Green Note: Natural Awakenings, a local publication that sometimes publishes my book reviews, has an excellent article by Lane Vail called Spring Greening. The author gives us a “tutorial” on chemicals to avoid in the house, not just the kitchen. It is only two pages and i highly recommend reading it.  Google: Spring Greening: Easy Ways to Detox a House by Lane Vail and the article will come up. Quite comprehensive!

1. Laundry detergent– I fluctuate among several different brands, some from the health food store and some from the supermarket. My spouse doesn’t think the natural detergents from the health food store are good, so we are back-and-forth on a trial and error path.  Since I do the laundry, eventually I will use the most ecological ones I can find.

2. Cleansers – Because several of the cleansers make me sneeze with an ingredient my body does nut like, I stick with Mrs. Meyer’s or Bon Ami, both of which do the job. I also use vinegar and water, baking soda in a water solution, and hydrogen peroxide inside my toilet bowls and on my toilet seats.

3. Paper Products/Cloth Napkins We do use paper towels, thrones that are serrated into 2 smaller pieces, for floor wipe-ups and sometimes as napkins. But I also have a large bag of rags that I use regularly for cleaning floors, walls, mirrors, etc. I use cloth napkins for every meal and they go into the washer every few days, with the restofmy laundry. And I wash my rags in the washer to reuse again & again.

4. Sponges – I buy sponges that are earth-friendly, like the ones in the photo called Twist, make from plants and are dye-free. Sometimes I cannot find these and revert to the commercial brands, but I believe even Target carries natural fiber sponges.

5. Garbage – Unfortunately, I am unable to compost in our condo, although last summer I took my compost to a bin next to the church garden on the corner about 2 blocks from here, dropping off my veg. compost on my errands. I stopped when the snow became too hard to wade through on the church lawn, and but hope to resume composint soon.  However, I do save my organic odds and ends from veggies (tops of carrots, bottoms of asparagus, etc.) to make soup stock, so much of my scraps do get used. As for garbage bags, I buy plastic from Whole Foods, which are touted as biodegradable.

6. Water I have a water filter under my sink that allows me to have filtered water without reverting tolerate plastic jugs. I have a stainless steel water carrier and only use plastic occasionally, like when I travel, although I may bring my ss water carrier in my backpack with no water in it.

7. Plastic vs Glass – As Lane Vail points out in her article Spring Greening (see note above for Google link)avoid products that common plastic bottle that aren’t BPA-free. Glass is still more ecological.

8. Food– Start eating organically, especially foods you eat or give your kids every day, such as apple. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen by going to ewg.org.

9. Skin products – Products you use in the kitchen (and bath) that are harmful to your skin need to be avoided, such as harsh cleansers for dishes and spot removers for clothing. (I use a natural spot remover from Whole Foods and Dawn with no phosphates for hand washing my pots.) My Ayurvedic practitioner says that if you can’t eat, don’t put it on your face. Good advice!

Room for improvement:

I know that if each one of us, myself included, made one or two changes in our kitchens that were ecologically sound, the changes may not make a gigantic impact, but over time, there would be an impact, so I urge you to look at where you can make changes to a difference in the future of the planet. Happy Earth Day!

6 Responses to “How Green is My Galley?”

  1. Honey Carolyn Friedman Says:

    Thanks for all this so very important information! You do our homework for us!

  2. hillsmom Says:

    For laundry detergent, you might like to try Atsko SportWash (made in the USA…they also make Sno-Seal) They make personal care products, too. Be aware that the prices are all over the place. I get it at Wallyworld when I would find it in the hunting section. Now they seem to have taken it off the shelf, but I think you can order it and pick up in the store…not sure. I recently loaded up on it. I’d be interested in your evaluation, should you try it. Cheers…

  3. Paula Says:

    Thanks for info.!

  4. Lois Says:

    Very helpful, we always need reminders and that little bit of extra information. Thanks, EllenSue.

  5. Lois Says:

    PS. Tell hubby that I like his choice of a movie, it’s definitely a winner.

  6. Mary-Lou Meyers Says:

    Thanks for the information. I too have bought cleaning products when I read the ingredients decide
    not to use them. Also I was warned after my breast cancer not to use any products that may be
    irritating to my skin and those that require spraying on the surface. Along with pesticides I had to
    avoid, it leaves me with few choices. Unfortunately, I have not been completely happy with some
    of the natural products, so it has to be trial and error as you too have discovered.

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