Our kitchens are often the hub of the home, a place of gathering, meals, and chat, so it pays to make it a nicer place to be in, as well as environmentally friendly.
Greening up your kitchen is healthier for you and your family, but it’s also less wasteful and more economical.
Here’s 10 ways to make your kitchen more environmentally friendly:
1. Reduce Your Food Footprint
All the food production in the world has a huge impact on eco systems, so try to lessen the mark you leave by eating in a more climate-friendly way.
If you buy locally-produced food, it has less distance to travel. This reduces transport emissions and supports organic food producers where you live.
Frozen, canned, refined, and processed convenience foods are quick and easy, but they don’t contain the nutrition you need, and often come in wasteful packaging. Try to buy and cook fresh, real food.
Grow Your Own
Growing your own produce is a great way to create organic food that not only tastes better than store-bought – it doesn’t get much fresher than when it’s grown in your own garden!
Try to Eat Less Meat
Intensive farming methods are a big contributor to climate change, so try to eat more fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds instead of meat. It’s better for you, and better for the planet.
Reduce Food Waste
The average American throws away 20 pounds of food per month, and a lot of it was still perfectly edible. Planning helps to reduce food waste significantly.
2. Use Beeswax Wraps to Preserve Food
Stop using single-use plastic cling wrap, and use natural beeswax wrap to seal your leftovers.
These wraps are made from organic cotton that’s been coated in beeswax. They can be washed and used many times, and when they are no longer useable, they are 100% biodegradable.
3. Use Glass Storage Containers
If you use glass, there’s no need to worry about BPA and other nasties leaching into your food. Invest in a good-quality set of glassware food storage containers made from shock resistant borosilicate glass.
4. Cook with Cast Iron
Most modern frying pans are coated in non-stick chemicals, such as Teflon. These chemicals seep into your food as you cook it, and when heated at common cooking temperatures, Teflon releases chemicals into the air.
Cast iron cookware is durable and versatile. As it is seasoned with oil, no chemicals get into your food during cooking. You can use cast iron on the stove top, in the oven, and on the barbeque, and the more you use it, the better your food tastes.
5. Don’t Use Paper Towels
Paper manufacturing is an incredibly dirty process, and has a big impact on air quality, water, and waste pollution.
Change conventional single-use paper towels for reusable alternatives. Bamboo towels can be washed and reused at least 120 times, and because bamboo trees grow at around 3 ft a day, they are a more sustainable choice.
6. Create a Composter
The treatment of food waste and other organic matter at landfill creates greenhouse gases that end up in the atmosphere.
It’s more environmentally friendly to get rid of food waste by composting, which breaks down organic material with the help of aerobic organisms that need oxygen and moisture to work. When the compost is ready, you will get humus, which is a nutrient-rich addition to soil.
Compost heaps are the traditional way of creating compost, and trench composting is invisible and odorless – just bury food waste in the garden. Vermicomposting uses worms to produce nutrient rich compost, and bokashi composting breaks things down by fermentation.
7. Make Food Scraps Work For You
Here are some ways to make your organic waste do double-duty.
Spent Coffee Grounds
Scoop out your coffee grounds and keep them in the fridge to use as a free fertilizer that boosts nitrogen in plants, as well as lowering the pH for acid loving plants. You can also use coffee grounds to exfoliate your skin and repel pests.
Used Tea Bags
Cut open a used tea bag and empty the leaves on the soil of your plants for a nutrient boost. Keep them in the bag and use them to shine wooden surfaces, condition your hair, or soothe irritated skin.
Banana peels are full of potassium, which makes them great fertilizers for plants and seedlings. You can also make vinegar, tenderize meat, or dry them out for chicken, rabbit, and pig food.
Eggshells are a free source of calcium. Use them in your garden to fertilize plants and deter pests. You can also grind up and eat eggshells, to remineralize your teeth and strengthen bones.
8. Get Air Purifying Plants
Get some houseplants that will literally clean your air. English Ivy, peace lily, bamboo palm, mother-in-law’s tongue, marginata, and Janet Craig are the most effective for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene, according to a study done by NASA in 1989.
Emerald gem and parlour palm also absorb ammonia and xylene too.
Use wide pots that allow the roots to extend outwards near the surface of the soil for maximum pollutant removal.
9. Use Natural Cleaning Products
White vinegar, baking soda and fresh lemons make great scourers and disinfectants around the home.
You can also buy natural cleansers for convenience, such as Truce All Purpose Cleaner for multiple surfaces, and Bon Ami Cleaning Powder for scouring.
10. Make Your Kitchen More Energy Efficient
Kitchen appliances take up a lot of energy to run, so when they are ready to be replaced, buy energy efficient models. Appliances labeled Energy Star use about half the amount of electricity as standard models, which will save you money in the long run.
Higher demand for Energy Star products means buying them is not as expensive as it used to be. You can also check out other incentive programs to go green.
Here’s some other energy saving tips:
Fridges with top-mounted freezers use 10 – 25% less energy than bottom mount and side-by-side ones. Microwaves use around half as much energy as a stove. Whenever you open the door, the oven loses as much as 25% of its heat. Pressure cookers use 50-75% less energy than the stove top or oven. For stove top cooking, choose the burner that fits the size of the pan you’re using. Use smaller appliances like crock pots, toaster ovens or convection ovens to make small or one-pot meals.