For our family, green living is equal parts concern for our health and concern for the environment. However, one thing I've not been willing to do is to throw style and aesthetics to the wind. I care too much about my home -- the décor and color and items I have to look at daily. For me, living in an enjoyable environment is especially important because I work from home. I don't want to spend my days and nights in a pieced-together home, even if it is environmentally conscious.
The good news is that it's not necessary to sacrifice your style when making green decisions. Here are just a few very simple ideas to keep green living looking good in your kitchen.
I've been on a mission to replace our dishware -- or rather, what remains of it. (How is it possible to break that many coffee cups?) What I didn't realize is that not all dishes are created equal. While I thought that my switch to cloth napkins rounded out our green dining -- in addition to organic meats and local farmer's market veggies -- I was missing something big.
During my online search for dinnerware, I learned that some dishes are green -- and some are not. But green doesn't have to mean ugly. The best types of dishes are stoneware, ceramic made in the United States or those that are made of recycled glass.
For example, the Festival Sol dishes are made of recycled glass -- and they're bright, stylish and eco-friendly. See? Green doesn't mean drab! If muted colors are your thing, check out the Serene Sol collection.
Get more eco-friendly kitchenware tips >>
Are you still using water bottles? Stop! I can't judge, though. That was one of my most recent green changes -- giving up water bottles. It was the hardest for me because I'm a drinking-water snob. I could do the blind taste-test with water and tell you the source -- tap or bottled -- and probably even the brand. Yes, water does have a taste. As many times as I tried to give up water bottles, I always went back to them because my alternatives weren't good enough and I wasn't drinking an adequate amount of water.
I finally took the plunge and ordered a doctor's office-style water cooler! Oh yes, I'm committed. However, we still have occasional plastic bottles, thanks to my diet soda habit and the occasional water bottle. If you're recycling correctly, you're not throwing those bottle tops in the recycle bin because many recycling centers don't recycle them.
You can, however, save plastic bottle caps and take them to specific recycling centers. In fact, companies such as Aveda have established cap recycling programs. To stash your caps until you're ready to take them in for recycling, find a trendy (and eco-friendly) container to hold them. Dress up your countertop and provide a "home" for your recyclable bottle caps at the same time. Check out the options at Viva Terra, such as a Root of the Earth bowl, pictured above.
Use those extra caps by creating a bottle cap lampshade >>
If you have little ones like I do, you need dishes for the kids. (Unless, of course, you have nerves of steel and/or are a risk-taker with your glass dishware!) My top concern for kids' dishes is that they are BPA-free. The good news is that you can find cute, unique and BPA-free dishes for your kids.
You can purchase original plates and bowls from sellers like Smiling Planet. These adorable kids' dishes remind me that going green can actually mean more style. I prefer these to the typical primary-color plastics.
Alternatively, if quantity is more important than design or if you're watching your budget, you'll find BPA-free options at your local big-box stores. Just read the packaging because most manufacturers will label BPA-free items as such.
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