It’s not surprising that implementing green living strategies should start in the kitchen, where families spend so much time. Small steps really add up here.
Since heat uses the most energy, pay special attention to appliances that use heat. Find ways to minimize their use, or replace electricity-sucking appliances with those that will use less.
Here are 15 green living strategies for the kitchen to get you started.
Most people fill their pots all the way to the brim. This wastes electricity or gas (and your money). You can save up to a ton of carbon every year by only filling your tea kettle or pot with the amount of water you actually need.
In one week, your family could save enough energy to light up your house for a day, or run your TV set every evening.
Using a Kill-a-watt-meter, Pablo Paster did an experiment to find out whether it is more energy efficient to boil water on the stovetop, in the microwave, or an electric tea kettle.
So, if you fill an electric tea kettle with only the amount of water you need to make your beverage, you save an enormous amount of energy. When boiling water for rice, pasta etc., I’ve been filling the electric tea kettle and bringing that to a boil, then pouring into my pot on the stove top. The water boils faster, too.
Cooking requires heat. To conserve heat, save energy, save the environment, AND save money, keep a lid on all the pans used in cooking.
Water, for example, will boil around 6% fasterin pans with a lid on. Vegetables or other items will retain more heat and cook more efficiently with a lid that is at least partially covering the pan.
If you are cooking in the oven, keep the door closed. Most modern ovens have a see-through glass door so you can see what’s happening inside. Turn the oven light on and take a peek (then remember to save energy by turning off the light).
It’s better for your broiling and baking anyway. Around 20% of oven heat is lost every time the door is opened. If you keep opening the door to see how it’s getting on, then you are cooking at 80% of the correct temperature. You are wasting energy and money, and your pastries and other food might not come out as well.
Also, close the refrigerator and freezer doors as fast as possible. If the cold escapes, more energy is used.
One of the first green living kitchen strategies is eliminating toxic commercial cleaning products. We dump some 32 million pounds of damaging toxins down our drains every year from household and kitchen cleaning products. Imagine the damage to the environment, not to mention exposure to your family and pets?
Most commercial cleaning products are made from chemicals that don’t belong in your kitchen anyway. They are expensive to produce, in terms of both money and cost to the environment.
We exclusively use the perfectly pH balanced, biodegradable and non-toxic Miracle II Soap. It seems a bit pricey at first glance, but it’s quite concentrated and makes life really easy because it’s the only soap we have.
You can make your own cleaner from a mixture of vinegar, salt and baking soda. It will clean perfectly, and it will contain no toxic chemicals, thereby helping the environment.
Here’s a simple recipe for an all-purpose cleaner:
½ cup natural, biodegradable liquid soap
1 gallon hot water
¼ cup lemon juice (vinegar also works)
It’s safe, effective, and costs very little. The lemon scent is marvelous.
Consider investing in the Clean and Green Guide. For less than the price of a bottle of chemical cleaning material, you can discover proven cleaning recipes using natural, basic ingredients from the kitchen and essential oils.
Instead of a plastic scrubby pad that wears out in a week or two, try using a more permanent scrub brush to get the baked-on grime off your pots and pans.
A scrub brush will last for months or years. Most can be recycled.
You save money and the environment doesn’t get clogged up with old plastic scrub pads. It’s an easy transition to using the scrub brush. Look at all your disposable cleaning products and look for more durable, less toxic and permanent alternatives.
Starting with green kitchen strategies like exchanging disposable cleaning toos for something more permanent, it’s easy peasy to save green, go green and save the environment!
Certain delicate baked goods, such as bread, cookies and other pastries, need to have the oven at full temperature when you put in the raw material. But pre-heating is no benefit for most foods, and just wastes heat.
Cook once and eat twice. This is a great way to save time and energy. Most of us don’t want to spend more time than necessary in the kitchen, even if it’s green.
Look at the types of items you typically prepare, and determine which foods can be cooked ahead and saved in the refrigerator or freezer, which will be using energy to stay cold anyway.
You will want to steam or saute your vegetables fresh. Most pasta is better fresh.
You can certainly refrigerator or freeze mac and cheese or lasagna. Beans and rice take a long time to cook, using a lot of electricity or gas. Why not cook enough for a second and even a third meal?
If you take time to plan meals and cook ahead where possible, you will cut your overall cooking time in half, saving electricity or gas. Your money stays right in your pocket, and you also save a lot of time
Green living kitchen strategies start with fruits and veggies. In the long run, you will save money on health costs by simply eating enough fruit and vegetables, especially if you replace meat.
Does it also help the environment? Oh yes!
A lot of the costs are in bringing the end product to the market, such as fuel for transportation. Vegetables and fruit are less expensive to produce, and overall their production is less harmful to the environment than raising cattle or other animals for food.
Consider also that vegetables are plants and most fruits grow on trees, which both absorb CO2 and give out oxygen.
Cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens do the opposite. Cattle, especially, produce a lot of methane. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. They breathe it out and expel millions of tons of methane through the other end…
Commercial producers tend to fill the animals with growth hormone and antibiotics, which end out in the people who eat them and in sewers and runoff water. Pesticides and herbicides used in conventional agriculture are also detrimental to the environment, so buy organic whenever possible.
Speaking of organic … here’s why you should eat organic food.
You know it is healthier for you. But if you’re serious about going green in your kitchen to save the environment, then organic food is the way to go.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is captured and stored in organic soils much better and more effectively than in chemical-laden soils. This makes organic foods much more friendly to the planet.
Here’s an example of how good organic growing could be:
If we grew all our corn and all our soybeans in organic conditions,some 580 BILLION tons of CO2 would no longer be pumped outinto the atmosphere.
The soil would be filled with living organisms to nurture plant life the way Mother Nature intended. Ecological balances of bacteria, soil-based organisms, plants, insects, birds and animals would be preserved.
On average, 30% to 50% of the food we buy gets dumped. Americans throw away a mind-numbing 14 million tons of food a year! That works out at about 100 pounds a year for each of us just dumped in the garbage can.
Implications to global starvation aside, an enormous amount of energy is required to raise, transport and cook food that is thrown away. This green kitchen strategy may be the hardest because it may involve reprogramming childhood attitudes towards lack and abundance.
Train your family to reach a point of zero food waste. Serve less food on the table and the plates. You can always get more if you’re still hungry. If you take more than you want, it gets dumped.
Does your home use bottled water? This can cost an average of$1,500 or more every year. Worse than that, only around 5% of the empty plastic bottles ever get recycled. That means 95% of them end up in landfills.
The fact that you are reading this article on Green Home Adviser means you are one of the 5% who recycles plastic bottles. However, investing around $100 for a multi-stage water filter to fit to your existing water supply will save a lot of money and help save the environment from the production, transportation and use of more plastic.
Many bottled water companies simply filter city water and re-bottle it. Your municipal or personal water supply is probably already safe to drink, but a filter will make it taste great, and you’ll save around $1,300 a year on average.
It’s easy to ditch plastic bottled water and this may be the most important green living strategy you fulfill.
Instead, look for reusable stainless steel bottles. You can get stainless steel water bottles that will last a lifetime, and without worrying about BPA leeching into your water from the plastic.
Americans burn some 1.5 million barrels of oil every year just to produce all the plastic bottles of water we use. That would power about 100,000 cars for a year…
Two simple cooking appliances can save a lot of energy. Consider using a pressure cooker and an induction burner for your main stovetop cooking.
The boiling point of water at sea level is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. That is reduced with increased pressure. This is the basis of the pressure cooker.
Food will cook three to four times faster in a pressure cooker. You use less energy in cooking, so you save money and help the environment. Pressure cookers use less liquid for cooking, so the nutritional value is increased. The food you cook is actually better for you.
Induction burners, such as the NuWave, are a more recent modern appliance that save a tremendous amount of energy over the standard gas or electric cooktop.
An induction-cooker element is a powerful, high-frequency electromagnet that transfers, or “induces,” energy into certain types of cookware. That transferred energy causes the metal cooking vessel to become hot and heat the food within it. The burner is more safe to use than a gas or electric cooktop burner because it stays cool to the touch. The energy savings are enormous.
Fit a sink faucet aerator to the kitchen sink. This will reduce the amount of water you use. Some 15% of the average household’s water consumption goes on faucet use.
A faucet aerator provides water under increased pressure, but lessof it, so it does a similar job. It provides a needle spray patternthat is more efficient, too. An immense benefit to the environment for a minimal cost and no inconvenience whatsoever.
Last but not least, your green living kitchen must incorporate recycling. A decade ago we threw 37,000 bottles and cans into landfills every minute!
You can and should sort out all your kitchen waste that can be recycled. All the glass, bottles and containers can be sorted and save the landfills from being clogged up any more than necessary.
We hear a lot about plastic. It’s made from fossil fuels, is inherently toxic and lasts for hundreds of years in a landfill. But did you know that it takes 4,000 years for a glass bottle to decompose and become a natural part of the environment again? That means that the glass bottles you throw out that get dumped in landfills will not blend back into nature until the 61st century!
The average child in America goes through some 500 drinks cans each year. A can that gets recycled can often be back on a supermarket shelf in another form in about two months time.
You can see that these tips are basic, logical and easy to implement. They are so simple that you might even wonder what difference each could make in helping to preserve our environment.
Green living does not have to be hard. Incorporating green living kitchen strategies do not require sacrifice, just small adjustments. Small steps add up to equal big savings in your wallet, and to preserving the Earth.