close-up of hands wearing kitchen gloves and cleaning oven

Mom always kept a pair of brightly colored kitchen gloves by the sink when I was growing up. Made of latex or rubber, they protected her hands when she washed dishes with hot soapy water or scrubbed the sink with scouring powder.

She also used kitchen gloves when she had to wash something with bleach or to wring out a dirty mop. She used them over and over until they got a hole, and then she would get a new pair.

I always have a pair or two of kitchen gloves at home. Although I usually don’t use them for dishes, they are great for protecting my hands when I scrub a messy grill or pot. I keep a pair under the sink to wear when cleaning out the mop or scrubbing the tub with something abrasive like baking soda paste. And you can’t beat latex gloves for giving you a good grip when opening stubborn jar lids.

Even when the gloves get a hole in them, they can still be useful. You can keep a pair in the car to wear when pumping gas or clearing snow from the windshield. Put a little duct tape over the hole and, although it’s not pretty, you will have a nice, watertight seal.

I also keep a pair in the gardening bag I take to the community garden. I can easily rinse them off when they get too dirty.

Kitchen gloves can even have another life after they no longer work as gloves. You can cut the glove in strips crossways to make rubber bands of different sizes. Or, you can use a piece of the glove to get a good grip when opening jars, as mentioned above. You can also place the bottom half of the glove under small appliances to reduce vibrations.

What about recycling and/or disposing of these items? I did some research and although I found no options near me, TerraCycle has Zero Waste Boxes for disposable gloves. Although this TerraCycle program carries a fee, I could collect used gloves from friends and we could split the cost.

It’s also useful to contact the company that manufactured the gloves to see if they have a takeback program for old rubber or latex products. Let them know you would be more likely to purchase their product again if they offered a recycling solution.

When shopping for new kitchen gloves, look for ethically sourced latex gloves made from real rubber, like If You Care Fair Trade gloves. For single-use gloves, companies like Bonnie Bio make them out of vegetable ingredients like corn and they claim that they are 100% compostable. These products are worth investigating.

With a little thought and investigation, we can reduce our waste in so many ways.

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.