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January 2, 2017 / thegirlwiththedinotattoo

doing the dishes

It’s just after the holidays, and my in-laws have just left from visiting for a few days. That means my kitchen is still relatively clean so I might as well snap a few pictures before the dishes start piling up again. img_20170102_083232807

Ah, yes, the sink area of a rental apartment. I made sure to overexpose the picture so you don’t see the cars in our driveway and the super-close neighbors too well. Hopefully what you can see are, besides my few remaining herbs that haven’t yet died for the winter, are the basics for mostly trash-free dish cleaning and kitchen space.

I think the biggest item to point out here is the lack of paper towels, despite the really nice holder that we spent a fair amount of money on years ago. Now it typically holds drying chip or cereal bags before those get sorted for recycling, so totally worth the $25.

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Instead of paper towels, we now use just a handful of rags, which are neatly stored in the twine-covered coffee can next to the sink (thanks Pinterest for the easy craft!). I tried a few nice-looking, biodegradable cloths, but I found that I liked the material of just an old cotton t-shirt better for wiping up quick spills on the counter. Also, when I dropped an entire bowl of pasta sauce on the floor, the rags worked great to mop up the mess, give them a quick rinse in the sink, and then toss them into the laundry – and I still had a few clean ones ready for use. I suppose I could have bought nice looking wash cloths or something similar, but my husband was rotating out an old t-shirt anyways so I just grabbed that. Yeah reusing! (also, when I get to the bathroom, I have a bunch of t-shirt rags in there too, but a different color t-shirt so I don’t mix them up. I don’t care if they’re all clean, I’m not wiping my counters with something that’s been on the toilet).

Also, you can see in this picture my coffee set-up: the electric kettle, ceramic filter cone, and drying cloth filter (I suppose if the drinking water tap isn’t going to work, at least it’s the perfect size to dry my filter). I love brewing coffee this way, and was so pumped when I got rid of the killer K machine. Maybe I’ll write a post about brewing coffee like this and with my percolator, but for now if you’re interested check out CoffeeSock which is the cloth filter brand and a wonderful company.

Next up are the sponges! And the neighbor’s car.

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At least my succulents and gold pine cones are looking ok – and did you know that green onions will regrow if left in a cup of water? Pretty cool, right?

Anyways, this is what cleans what can’t fit into the dishwasher. The sponge is part of a packet that I got from Trader Joe’s: it’s just vegetable cellulose so into the compost it goes when I’ve finally maxed it out! It’s super absorbent and I love how thick it is when I’m scrubbing big pots and pans. The thin cloth is a Skoy scrub which isn’t compostable like their other products or the sponge, but that one cloth has lasted me a year and a half and it still works like it’s brand new, so points for durability. It scrubs really well but doesn’t scratch delicate items so I’m a big fan. The sushi dish lets them dry out away from the sink, and about once a month or two I’ll boil the sponge, cloth, and coffee filter one at a time in a pot of water for a few minutes to sterilize them.

The odd little bottle next to these is actually the dish soap: it’s a rinsed-out shampoo bottle that’s the perfect size to sit up on the shelf and be refilled from the larger jug below the sink. And it gets a little classier dressed in the cup cozy that my great-grandmother knitted! I like being able to buy the soap in bulk so that it’s less containers being bought, used, and recycled.img_20170102_083352765

This last, lovely picture shows how to use a wine rack after you realize that storing wine in front of a window is a terrible idea: it’s a great place to tuck the ends of your creeping philodendron vines, and a nice drying rack for your long brush. Wading through the endless plastic options, I was able to find a horsehair and wood bottle brush on Amazon. (While I love to support my local stores and am usually able to find these greener options there, I often have to resort to Amazon to find items that aren’t plastic. At least it makes finding the items easier.) This too will just be tossed in the compost when it finally bites the dust, but it’s going strong after a few years’ use so far.

So there you have it! I’ve swapped out items as needed, because tossing perfectly usable items and buying new ones, even if they’re “greener” options, is still wasteful. I’ve enjoyed taking the time to research each item individually as I notice I’ll need to soon replace it. These are the items that have worked so far for my household, and hopefully they’ll give you some ideas for what will work for you!

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