Your kitchen may be clean, but is it green?
If you are looking to green your lifestyle habits, your kitchen is a great place to start, between all the food waste, packaging and energy used to run cooking and cleaning appliances.
Here are some ideas on how to green your kitchen.
Reduce your paper towel use
Save some trees by cutting back on the number of paper towels you use in your kitchen. Paper towels can be a great tool for patting down bacon and wiping up lard and grease, but for many kitchen messes, a reusable rag or cloth will do. Maybe you are one of the many millennials who uses paper towels instead of napkins — consider opting for cloth napkins instead.
Mind your pots and pans
When you are cooking on a burner, choose the smallest pot or pan for the job and match it to the appropriate-sized burner. Steer clear of scratchable Teflon, which is not only linked to health problems but also does not last as long and is more likely to end up in a landfill after a year or two. Opt for aluminium, ceramic or cast iron cookware instead.
Opt for energy efficient appliances
If you are looking to make the switch anyway, picking an energy-efficient appliance can save energy — and your hard-earned dollars. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Star-qualified refrigerators use 15 percent less energy than standard models. Using smaller appliances for certain cooking situations can also be more energy efficient as well. Energy Star estimates that using a microwave instead of an oven for small dishes can reduce energy by 80 percent.
Green your dishwasher
Washing a load of dishes in the dishwasher instead of handwashing uses an estimated 37 percent less water than hand washing. Using an Energy Star-qualified dishwasher, which are 10 percent more energy efficient and 20 percent more water efficient than standard models, you can also save energy. Run the dishwasher only when it is full, and use the most efficient setting — light rather than heavy wash and air dry instead of heat. Also, skip the pre-rinse. Tests conducted by the Consumers Union show that rinsing is not only unnecessary but also wastes up to 20 gallons of water per load.
More green ways to wash dishes
Don’t feel too bad if you don’t have an electric dishwasher. There are still plenty of ways to green your dish cleaning habits. To cut down on water, fill one side of your sink with soapy water and the other side with rinse water instead of letting the faucet run. Consider exchanging your conventional dish soap for a natural product as well. Many conventional dish soaps contain toxic chemicals that can leak into your septic system and our shared waterways after they do down your drain. Switch to a natural cleaning product or make your own dish soap instead.
Buy in bulk
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that containers and packaging contribute over 23 percent of the material reaching landfills in the U.S., part of which comes from food-related containers and packaging. Reduce the number of bags and boxes you contribute by buying in bulk, and use reusable containers and produce bags when you can.
Consider your containers
Saving leftovers is a great way to reduce food waste, but maybe think twice before you buy another plastic container. While many types of plastic can be recycled, most plastic containers are made from non-renewable petroleum. Rather than storing leftovers in plastic, try glass, ceramic or stainless-steel containers.
Recycle food scraps
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 30 percent of what Americans throw away is food scraps and yard waste that can be composted. Start your own compost bin (or vermicompost bin) to put those scraps to good use. If you find compost intimidating, start small: Begin by reusing eggshells and coffee grounds in your garden.
Grow your own herbs
This one will literally make your kitchen a little greener. Growing your own herbs requires only a little space and effort, and any contribution you can make toward growing your own food reduces the environmental cost of shipping.