For many people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s a place where we prepare food to nourish and protect the whole family, and it is where we gather together. In the kitchen, we eat together and discuss our day, and our hopes and dreams. It’s a place friends sit when they call in for a coffee and a chat. And it’s the place our kids spread out their homework each evening. This room is important to us, and so it’s vital that we make it as safe, comfortable, efficient, and green as possible.
Pots, Pans, And Utensils
When it comes to pans and kitchen utensils, opt for versions that will stand the test of time. Items that require replacing regularly place a burden on manufacturing processes and landfill. Cast iron or stainless steel are healthier choices than non-stick varieties. Opinion is often split on this, but the former will certainly last longer.
Wooden spoons, spatulas, and other utensils tend to have a limited shelf-life. Opt for quality items, rather than their cheaper counterparts that will soon break down.
Limit the number knives you purchase by opting for those you can sharpen yourself. This will ensure that they remain efficient and will require fewer replacements.
Cups, plates, and bowls, etc. don’t last forever. At some point, they’ll lose a handle or become broken. Rather than binning them, find ways to repurpose them, so they are useful elsewhere. They could be used in the garden, perhaps. Or you could smash them into smaller pieces and use them to create a mosaic.
When it comes to cleaning, ditch the harsh chemicals that are harmful to the planet and health. This includes dishwasher detergent, washing powder, soap, floor cleaners, and countertop cleaners, etc. And don’t forget specialty cleaners for surfaces like granite or stone. Opting for natural cleaners will give you the peace of mind that you’re not introducing toxic chemicals into your living space.
Toss out your paper towels and disposable cloths and choose long-lasting washcloths and tea towels instead.
The kitchen generates the most waste, not just in terms of food products, but also packaging. There are several ways you can reduce the waste you create.
- Wherever possible, purchase food that isn’t already pre-packed.
- Take your own reusable shopping bags to the grocery store and keep a supply in your trunk, so you never forget.
- Create your shopping list based on meals for each day of the week to avoid wastage.
- Reuse and repurpose bottles and jars. Even tins and milk cartons can be used as planters, etc.
- Make your own meals rather than buying processed food or ordering takeout.
- Buy in bulk to reduce packaging and transfer items into bottles and jars.
- Plan your meals in advance and create food that can be used for several different meals.
Establish a compost bin for food-based waste such as vegetable peelings, egg shells, etc. Make sure you sift through any waste and recycle wherever possible. Keep an eye on what goes into the bin and find ways to either reduce or repurpose it.
Selecting eco-friendly kitchen appliances and running them in an efficient manner benefits everyone. It helps reduce resources and, therefore, saves you money. Appliances are becoming more energy efficient and so become familiar with the Energy Star rating system.
Using your appliances efficiently is also important. For example, the refrigerator can consume from 9% to 15% of your overall electricity. There are several ways you can optimize its efficiency.
- Purchase a fridge that is big enough for your needs, as packing it full of food will use extra energy.
- Close the door between uses, even if you’re going back and forth.
- Ice makers and dispensers consume more energy, so select a model without these if possible.
- Place the refrigerator away from heat sources such as the oven, which will require it to work harder.
- Allow food to cool first, before placing it into the fridge or freezer.
There are pros and cons of gas and electric cookers. Usually, this will come down to personal choice. However, whichever you opt for, cook efficiently to reduce the fuel you’re using. Simple changes like using a pan lid will help food to cook quicker and thus reduce fuel. Don’t keep opening the oven door to check on progress.
Kitchen Furniture And Fittings
If you need to replace cupboards, countertops, tables, chairs, etc. figure out the best way to do this. Do you have to replace them or can they be upgraded or repaired? Where replacements are needed, can the old items be put to use elsewhere? For example, in the garage or shed? Where possible, opt for secondhand items from places like Craigslist or Freecycle. When buying new items, look for furniture made from eco-friendly materials and created using green production methods. You may need to do a little research, but the results will be worth it.
When it comes to food shopping, buy local. The fewer miles your food has to travel between the farm and the kitchen, the better. It will also cut down on your own gas consumption. Find local co-ops and farmers’ markets and shop there wherever possible.
Arrange your family’s meals around the seasons. It may be a novelty to have access to a diverse range of vegetables all year round, but think about how far they have traveled and the fuel they have consumed. And don’t forget all those emissions as a result of travel. It’s good to know where your food is coming from and eating seasonally is healthy. Seasonal food is picked at the right time, meaning it’s had optimum sun exposure and is full of vital nutrients. This also adds to the taste.
It is often the case that making eco-friendly choices promotes a simpler and safer way of life. If you think about it, this makes sense. Eco-friendly suggests being in balance with the planet and its natural cycles. We eliminate unnecessary processes that consume resources and go back to what is readily available and in abundance.