Friday, March 02, 2007

Green Kitchen Tip #9

Those Ubiquitous Rubber Gloves

Those of you who have already made the switch to environmentally friendly dishwashing soaps, have probably noted that you no longer require rubber gloves to protect your hands while hand-washing dishes. If you haven’t yet made the switch, here is a review of several brands of greener dishwashing liquids. These formulas are based upon vegetable oils rather than petroleum and they avoid harsh chemical additives.

The less frequently you require gloves to hand-wash dishes, the less likely you are to accidentally tear a hole in one of the fingers, which means whatever gloves you own will last longer.

Those of you who have quit or reduced your use of bleach, have probably noticed that your household cleaning gloves last much longer, since they aren’t regularly bathing in a caustic solution.

But inevitably rubber gloves have a finite lifetime. Often we are left with a lonely glove that has lost its mate. And most likely these widowed gloves will refuse to pair up with another bereaved glove, due to handedness factors.

Rubber gloves have an undeniable impact on the environment, both in production and disposal. Synthetic rubber is made from petroleum. Additionally, synthetic rubber production is energy intensive and involves the inclusion of many additives – polymers, vulcanization accelerators, activators, vulcanization agents, fillers, fire retardants, anti-degradants, colorants, and plasitcizers. So how can we best put these gloves back to work?
  • Patch the torn finger from the inside with duct tape. They won’t be fully water-tight but can be used for other tasks, such as gardening.
  • Cut the remaining fingers from the glove, add them to your first-aid kit and use them as finger “condoms” to protect bandaged fingers from moisture and messes. Secure them to your finger with first aid tape.
  • You can cut your own rubber bands out of the forearm portion, if you are clever with a pair of scissors
  • Cut out the palm portion and use it to aid in opening tight jar lids
Rubber can be recycled. In fact, recycling rubber is less energy intensive than producing new rubber. However, since gloves are small compared to tires, it appears that recycling them is currently mostly overlooked. Perhaps some day all our rubber gloves will be granted a second life as tree-saving sidewalks.



At March 02, 2007 2:16 PM, Blogger ericswan said...

I practice a more "manly" recycling of rubber. hehe

Truckers are forever having their mudflaps torn off for reasons unknown but usually their back tires actually back up over top of them and cause them to tear off. All my drivers are on notice to bring me any and every truck tire flap they find. I bring them to the community garden and use them as path dividers between the different gardens. Keeps down the weeds, is great for navigating a wheel barrow, for kneeling purposes soil conservation and the worms like them too. I seriously believe that they are indestructible and when recycled away from the landfill, may someday serve some other function.

At March 02, 2007 3:21 PM, Blogger Jade said...

Way to recycle, ericswan! I especially can see the utility of always having something to kneel on handy.

At March 04, 2007 5:21 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Now, those are some ingenious recycling suggestions! Thanks for the post!

At March 09, 2007 1:58 PM, Blogger Jade said...

Glad you enjoyed the tips, Susan!


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