When people live a greener lifestyle, their efforts can impact the environment in a positive way. One of the places that people can begin making eco-conscious changes is in the kitchen. The kitchen, for many families, is one of the most important areas. In terms of green living, it is also one of the most significant areas to properly prepare. This is because it is a location where food is handled, where a large amount of energy is consumed, and where a significant amount of trash is created. Green changes to this room range from simple to complex, and may include everything from the food that is being prepared to the types of countertops that are being used.
Green Kitchen Tips
- Check the Seal on the Refrigerator
Not all refrigerators seal properly enough to keep cold air in. When this happens, the refrigerator uses up more energy. The best way to determine if a refrigerator is sealed properly is to perform a simple test using a slip of paper or a dollar bill. Place the paper so that it is partially in the refrigerator and partially sticking out when the door is closed. The paper should be difficult to pull out once the door is closed. If the paper slips out easily, the seal is loose and should be replaced.
- Replace Non-Stick Cookware
Due to the ease of cleaning, non-stick cookware has become a popular option in many kitchens. Unfortunately, the surface of this type of cookware is often subject to wear and tear. As a result, they must be replaced more frequently than other types of cookware and they create more garbage as a result. Replace non-stick skillets with ones made of cast iron or stainless steel. Cookware with copper bottoms is also a smart choice. Not only do they last longer, but they also heat up quickly and are more energy-efficient.
- Stop Using Paper Towels
When used, paper towels are typically discarded into trash cans, which are then transported to landfills. To reduce the production of excess trash, avoid buying paper towels altogether. In place of paper towels use microfiber towels or other reusable cleaning cloths. Separate cloth towels should be used for different tasks in the kitchen, such as drying dishes and wiping up spills.
- Buy Food From Your Local Area
Food that’s grown locally is always an environmentally friendly option compared to foods from other cities or countries. The longer the distance that food travels, the more natural resources are consumed, such as gas. The transportation of food from one location to another also contributes substantially to pollution. Buying seasonal food also helps to reduce the consumption of resources, as out of season foods are typically grown and transported from other countries. Buying locally is good for the area’s local economy, as well as the environment.
- Keep the Refrigerator Well Stocked
Refrigerators and freezers should never be kept empty or only slightly full. This causes them to work harder than they would if they were completely full. As a result, they consume more energy. Whenever possible, keep both well stocked. If the food is not available, empty containers may be placed on the shelves as place holders.
- Epicurious: The Green Kitchen
- Create an Eco-Friendly Kitchen
- Sierra Club: Green Kitchen Tips
- HGTV: Green Cabinets and Countertops Video
- Green Renaissance of Western New York: Green Kitchen Tips
- Eco-Friendly Kitchen Tips
- CBS News: Go Green in Your Kitchen
Green Kitchens: Getting Techie
When creating a green kitchen, it’s important to not overlook the technology that helps people live in a more environmentally friendly way. This technology is available in many of the appliances, both large and small, that are found in modern kitchens. Some of this technology is new, while others have been around for years. Many of the refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers are made with features that make them more eco-friendly than older versions. Many new ovens, for example, no longer require pre-heating. Energy Star appliances are appliances that are designed to use up to 50 percent less energy than older models. Energy Star appliances are identified by the Energy Star label. Cooking appliances can also help in greening the kitchen. Modern pressure cookers, for example, cook faster than using the oven. This allows the user to use less energy. They also help retain more of the food’s nutrients.
- Energy Efficient Appliances to Upgrade Your Kitchen
- EPA: Green Building – Kitchen Components – Major Appliances
- Our Favorite Eco-Friendly Fridges
- Eco-Friendly Home Appliances – Refrigerators, Dishwashers, Cooking Appliances.
- Discovery Channel Green Living: Solar Ovens
- Green Cooking Solar Ovens and Vacuum Cookers
- Cooking With Pressure Cookers: How to Cut Cooking Stove Energy Use PDF
Composting for Your Kitchen
Kitchen composting allows people to recycle scraps of food that they would otherwise throw away. Items such as the peels and remains of fruit and vegetables, breading and crusts, egg shells, and paper products such as paper towels or napkins are collected and decompose into a soil that can be used to enrich plants or gardens. When space is limited, like in a kitchen, a bin can be set up under a sink for vermicomposting. This involves adding red earthworms to the scraps of food and other garbage being composted. The worms digest the garbage and turn it into a nutritionally enriched soil fertilizer.
- Make Your Own Kitchen Waste Composter PDF
- Sources for Food Scrap Kitchen Pails
- East Texas Garden: Kitchen Composting
- Composting at Home the Green and Brown Alternative
- Kitchen Composting: Worms in My Kitchen PDF
- Alabama Cooperative Extension System: Kitchen Composting
- Green Bin: The Kitchen Composting Bin
Homemade Organic/Green Cleaners
Cleaning products contain harmful ingredients that are dangerous to human health and the environment. In terms of the environment, the cleaner’s chemicals make their way into the water supply or fumes may contribute to air pollution. To avoid this people can make their own cleaning supplies using natural or even organic ingredients. Lemons, vinegar, and baking soda are three of the most common items that are used when creating kitchen cleaners. The acid of lemons is effective in fighting bacteria found in the kitchen. Baking soda is a natural abrasive, cleanser and deodorizer. Vinegar as an ingredient in green cleaners serves to remove mildew, kill bacteria and germs, and also to deodorize. Homemade cleaners for the kitchen include cleaners for countertops, the oven, and also all-purpose cleaners.
- Michigan State University Extension: Homemade Cleaners
- Green Cleaning PDF
- Sustainability: Clean and Green
- Greener Choices: Homemade Household Cleaners
- Results of Readers’ Tests of Homemade Green Cleaners
- A Greener Cleaner
- Consumer Reports: Seven Ways to Green Clean – And Cut Costs