The kitchen is where most people spend a lot of time. Some kitchens are small, some kitchens are large. Some have gas stoves where as others have electric. And some kitchens are more environmentally friendly than others.
In addition to being more environmentally friendly, making a few changes in your kitchen can have other serious benefits, too. You might spend less money on your water and energy bills, get a few rich nutrients from your garden, have your kitchen smell better, and make it non-toxic for your kids and pets. The benefits of going green and organic can be significant.
Here are a few ways to make your kitchen greener, healthier, cheaper, and generally better:
Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products
We used to think that the harder the chemicals, the better they cleaned. While that debate is still up in the air, environmentally friendly cleaning products clean extremely well and offer many other benefits:
- Many are non-toxic to kids and pets (always good if you have two bad cats like mine).
- I’ve found that they often smell really good (or at least don’t smell awful like the chemical ones).
- They’re not really more expensive.
Even if you live in an area that doesn’t suffer from droughts or have water scarcity problems, conserving water as much as possible is better for the environment and for our future safety and security. To do this in the kitchen:
- Don’t run the dishwasher until it’s completely full (and use the energy/water saving option if available).
- If you don’t have a dishwasher, buy a small dish washing tub and fill it up with soapy water — use the tub to wash all of your dishes and then just lightly rinse.
- Steam you veggies! Steaming uses less water (minimally, but still less water), and keeps more nutrients in your foods.
The kitchen constantly uses a large amount of energy, even if you’re not in it. The fridge alone uses about 1200 kilowatt hours of energy a year. To cut out some energy consumption:
- Make your fridge as efficient as possible. Keep it clean — both inside and out. Dust behind the fridge may cut out its air circulation and make it harder to keep it functioning at peak efficiency.
- If you’re in the market for new appliances, buy ENERGY STAR products — the more efficient the better.
- For those energy-sucking appliances (microwave, coffee maker, etc), put them on a surge protector and turn it off if you’re not using them, or use one of these fancy surge protectors that automatically turn off: Smart Power Strip.
Environmentally Friendly Food
What we put and use to cook in the kitchen can also make a difference. Here are some ways to make your food more environmentally friendly:
- Cook more! The more you cook, the less processed food you’ll use, and the more likely you are to use items that are locally grown with less packaging.
- Buy organic and natural food products.
- Buy as local as possible. This cuts down on energy used in transportation and also tends to give you healthier, fresher food.
- Grow some of your own food. It doesn’t get more local (or tastier) than that.
Lastly, your kitchen probably produces a lot of waste. All of that packaging from your food stuffs, those old leftovers in the fridge that have gone bad, or just excess banana peels. They all go into the garbage, but here are some ways to minimize how quickly your trash can fills up:
- Buy products with less packaging.
- Bring your own bags to the market. This includes the thin plastic bags that you use to get produce. You can save the ones you used on your last trip and reuse them the next time you go.
- Recycle — everything you can.
- Compost all of the organic stuff. It’s useful for your garden, too.
What are your tricks?
What do you do to make your kitchen more environmentally friendly? Have you tried any of these tips and seen a decrease in energy or waste? Let us know in the comments!