A Green Kitchen Guide

Let’s face it: going green in the kitchen starts with a cleaner plate. I mean, there’s no sense in buying all the eco-friendly utensils if you aren’t going to start to incorporate a more sustainable lifestyle, is there? Plus, having a healthy diet benefits you inside and out.

But aside from benefiting you at a personal level, greening your kitchen also offers a myriad of advantages to our environment. And yes, not because it begins with a green plate, it already means it has to end there. From basic food preparation to cleaning up your kitchen, every principle you put into practice highly impacts our ecosystem. So if you want to really green your home, there’s no better place to start than your kitchen as this is where most of the wastes are produced.

Now, are you up for the challenge? Then, let’s get started on painting hues of green in your kitchen to ensure a more sustainable approach in your lifestyle.

Plant Your Own Produce

While a lot of people are not really buying the idea of eating sustainably, it is one great step towards creating a greener kitchen. But what does planting have to do with greening the kitchen? You might ask. Well, the both are interrelated since our goal here is to create a more sustainable lifestyle.

If you’re planting your own produce, you won’t only be able to save money, but you will also be able to help minimize the use of fossil fuels that are used whenever vehicles transport food from the farmlands down to the grocery stores. Not to mention, there will be one less plastic bag user on earth since you won’t have to buy simple herbs and crops from your local store. You can now readily pick your own fresh produce right at the comforts of your own home. Just imagine how green this world would be if everybody plants on their own backyard!

Buy Local

Okay, so you are not really a fan of planting herbs and spices in your garden. We can deal with that too. But since you have no plans of putting your backyard into good use, can we just at least settle to buying local? Aside from providing support to your local community, you can also be sure that the fruits and vegetables you consume are in their best condition since they weren’t sprinkled with too much chemicals.

Moreover, while imported goods may taste irresistible, the preservatives added on these goods are harming your body more than they help. And let’s not forget the carbon emissions produced by cargo planes that transport these products too. So before you swipe your card, look for alternatives from your local community first.

Purchase in Bulk

Purchasing goods in bulk isn’t only pocket-friendly, but it also lessens carbon emissions since you won’t have to drive to stores as frequently. Also, you can help minimize the use of plastic bags, which is great for the environment too. Just remember, when buying in bulks, bring home only what you can consume. Plan your meals so you can anticipate what you would need to buy once you go to your local store. The more organized you are in your meal plans, the more efficient you become not only in the grocery store, but in your own kitchen too.

Work Magic on Your Old Kitchen

Going green in the kitchen is never about replacing all the kitchen equipment you already have at home. Since we’re talking about conservation here, it is always best for us to work with what we have before deciding to buy new kitchen products that would make your kitchen greener. For instance, instead of remodeling your space, you can fix and repaint your old cabinets since it generates less landfill wastes.

In the like manner, going green also means being cautious on the products we choose to use when rebuilding our home. When out for a repainting job, look for paint products that have low-to-nil volatile organic compounds since they are considered toxic to the environment and to human health. So when buying paint or any items used for reconstruction, always choose eco-friendly finds that create lesser environmental impacts.

Shop Wisely

Sturdy cookware and utensils are integral in any kitchen. Instead of buying disposable or cheap utensils that will sooner or later ask for a replacement, invest in high quality items that can guarantee you long-lasting service. This way, you won’t only save from buying a new pair of spoon and fork, but you can also reduce wastes.

In addition to that, always be wary about new items that are out in the market. For instance, many households are now warming up to the idea of buying non-stick pans. Who wouldn’t? Convenient for cooking and cleaning purposes, these products can definitely catch the attention of their target market.

Nonetheless, aside from the fact that there is still an on-going debate on whether these products release carcinogenic compounds into the atmosphere, it cannot be denied that these items were not built to last for the years to come. So when buying cookware, choosing cast iron or stainless steel skillets is a wiser thing to do. The same principle applies for your kitchen knives and cutleries—always choose quality over quantity. Otherwise, you will just be throwing away your money in practices that add up to more environmental wastes.

Choose Energy-Saving Appliances

If for sentimental or money-saving reasons, you decided to keep your decade-old fridge in your kitchen, it may be time for you to think twice. Consuming about 1200 kilowatts per annum, your good old fridge is not helping you save up from your daily energy consumption. In contrary to energy-saving models that can only consume about 400 kilowatts per year, that old fridge is keeping you from embracing an eco-friendly kitchen.

But of course, let’s not forget to compare the specs of modern models nowadays. Just because it’s new, doesn’t mean it’s eco-friendly. When choosing amongst models and makes, look for its energy-saving capability. When looking for a dishwasher, on the other hand, always choose the ones that have the lowest energy and water consumption. Indeed, nothing beats being a smart consumer.

Save Water When You Can

Going green? Then, it’s time that you take water conservation principles seriously especially when you are grinding in the kitchen. Even though that leaking faucet may not seem like a big deal for you, it definitely is for our ecosystem. Just imagine how many households neglect their leaking faucets and how negatively it can add up.

But aside from making sure your faucet isn’t faulty, there are also a lot of ways to conserve water in the kitchen. 1.) Install a highly efficient low-flow faucet because it can lessen water consumption in your kitchen by about 3.5 gallons per minute, 2.) Don’t let water run when rinsing your fresh produce. Instead, it is best that you use a large bowl, 3.)Make sure the dishwasher is full before you use it so you won’t have to consume more water than you should, 4.) When defrosting, submerge the meat product in a pot of water instead of letting water run on it and lastly, 5.) never stop looking for ways to conserve water. For instance, when you are cooking, use techniques that necessitate less water. Choose steaming instead of boiling, and if you really need to boil your raw products, use just the right amount of water.

Green Thy Stove

We all have our own preferences when it comes to the stove top we use at home. The most common stove types, the electric and gas stoves, both have their own pros and cons.

If you find cooking with an electric stove more convenient, note that stoves that use coil elements use more energy as compared to their more efficient counterparts. By choosing stoves that use induction elements to generate heat, you are saving more money from your electricity bill. The only downside is that cookware made up of glass and aluminum won’t work perfectly for you as these stoves can only work efficiently with pots made up of metal such as cast iron and stainless steel. And of course, let’s not forget that these modern stoves are pricier than average electric stoves out in the market.

Meanwhile, gas stoves are more user-friendly since you can easily manipulate the heat you use as you cook, making it the top pick of most professional chefs. So if you want a stove you can easily work with, gas stoves are your best buy. Just remember to look for models that generate lower BTU outputs so you can make the most out of your kitchen sessions without using too much energy. The only problem is, gas stoves are not the best choice if you want to lessen CO2 and NO2 levels released in the air, making energy efficient electric stoves the healthier option for kitchen owners who would like to go green.

With both stove types offering individual advantages and disadvantages, I understand how challenging it can be to choose between the two. But to guide you through your stove shopping experience, remember to choose the stove type you can work with for years to come. And yes, make sure you are buying the most energy-efficient model.

Minimize As You Go Green

Our goal here isn’t only geared towards cutting electricity bills, but in helping our ecosystem as a whole. When heating foods, ask yourself, “Can I use a smaller appliance to pre-heat food?” Instead of turning on the oven, maybe you can use a toaster oven that requires less electricity usage. In addition to that, heat foods all at once when you have the chance. Minimal it may seem, but the energy you’ll conserve from practices like this can mean the world.

Furthermore, using the right pan size is also crucial in saving electricity especially if you are using electric stoves. Also, when cooking meats that are hard to tenderize, a pressure cooker can be handy as it doesn’t only cut cooking times, but it also saves you time and effort. Make your life simpler, and who knows, you might be able to save the environment too.

Use Green Cleaning Products

The thought of using natural products for cleaning purposes may not be appealing, but let’s not bury this idea deep underground just yet. Nowadays, modern companies that were built on eco-friendly goals and principles are now manufacturing products that use eco-friendly ingredients. Plus, you can also create your own cleaning products at home. A simple combination of baking soda and vinegar can become the magical all-purpose cleaner you’ve always been looking for. So don’t hush! With patience and perseverance, you can go all green even as you clean your kitchen.

Save Trees, Ditch the Paper Towels

It may be convenient to just tissue off the unwanted spills on your table, but let’s think about what it does to our environment first. The more paper towels and other similar products we buy, the more trees are sacrificed for our so-called convenience. Instead of keeping these products within our reach, why not look for alternatives that are more tree-hugging in nature? Investing in quality organic kitchen towels and sponges is definitely a good start!

Cut on Kitchen Wastes

Surprisingly studies suggest that around 14% of the food we buy goes straight to the trash bin. Not only is this impractical, but it also adds up to our waste. So what do we do about this? Reduce wastes not only by buying what you can eat, but by cooking just the right amount per meal.

Also, when you are out in a grocery store, make sure that you have a canvas bag at hand so you won’t have to use plastics from your local stores. If you have to buy wet items, look for bags you can reuse. The same rule applies when you are purchasing other household items such as detergent bars and soaps. And of course, let’s ditch the bottled water. Aside from adding up to plastic wastes, it takes about 1.5 gallons of water to manufacture 1 plastic bottle—a number that’s too difficult to ignore.

Lastly, salvage items you can still use like glasses and jars that can act as containers for kitchen spices and condiments. Be creative! With a few labels and designs, you can really go a long way. This tip can also be handy when you are planning to remodel your home. You don’t always have to buy new items because sometimes, all you need is a few old items you can redecorate to turn your kitchen into a paradise.

Think before You Swipe

The most common mistake many consumers make is that they tend to buy more of what they want than what they need.  It’s always best that you step back and think whether your kitchen should really make space for the item you’ve been eyeing all this time. If you think you can live without the product, then there’s no need to swipe your card. Again, always think before you buy. After all, there is nothing wrong with saving a few more dollars for more important items for your home.

Speaking of kitchen gadgets, you can also opt for solar ovens, chest freezers with horizontal lids and crock pots since they can really make a difference in your kitchen. Eco-friendly and energy-efficient, they won’t only make cooking easier for you, but it can also help you cut on your monthly electricity bills.

Greening your kitchen may be a big leap of faith, but it can definitely help you become closer to your eco-friendly goals. Buying more energy-efficient gadgets may be expensive the same way that eco-friendly practices can be hard to sustain, but with the right frame of mind, you will surely be able to save money and protect the environment in the long run.

 

John Cowan