19 Ways to Be More Green in Your Kitchen
Do you want to become more sustainable and eco-friendly?
The kitchen is a great place to start! There are many things you can change in your kitchen to save energy, save waste, and be more responsible towards the planet.
Keep on reading to find out!
1. Kettle Management
Want to save the environment from one ton of carbon every year? Start today by only filling your kettle with the amount of water you actually need every time.
Most people fill their kettles to the brim. They waste electricity and their money in the process.
Persuade another 14 families (15 all together) to only fill their kettles with what they actually need and a whole ton of carbon will be prevented from floating into the atmosphere to do its irreparable damage.
If only your family did this for one week it would save enough energy to light up your house for a day, or run your TV set every evening for a week.
2. Keep a lid on the pan
Cooking requires heat, so conserve it to save money. Keep a lid on all the pans being used in cooking.
Water will boil around 6% faster in pans with a lid on, thereby saving time, electricity and your money, as well as giving the environment a break.
3. Keep the oven door closed
If you are cooking in the oven, keep the door closed. Most modern ovens have a see through door to let you see what's happening inside. Use it!
Around 20% of oven heat is lost every time the door is opened. If you're trying to bake a cake, for example, and you keep opening the door to see how it's getting on, then you are cooking at 80% of the correct temperature, while wasting energy and money!
4. Stop using commercial cleaning products
If you use commercial cleaning products in your kitchen, STOP! They are expensive to buy and expensive to produce.
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. It will cost a great deal less too.
Not convinced? Think about this... We dump some 32 million pounds of damaging toxins down our drains every year, just from household and kitchen cleaning products alone. What kind of damage do you think that is doing to the environment? Well, you don't have to do it anymore.
Here's another simple recipe for an all purpose cleaner, courtesy of Greenpeace:
½ cup pure liquid soap
1 gallon hot water
¼ cup lemon juice
It's safe and effective, and costs very little.
5. Use eco-friendly scrubs
I'll bet you use one of those hard plastic scrub pads to get the baked on grime off your pots and pans. Then after a week or so you throw it away and start using a new one. Bad idea.
Consider using something more permanent that will last a very long time, and will get the dirt off too. A good old fashioned scrubbing brush will do that. Yes, I'm serious. It will last for months, if not years, and it can be recycled over and ov er again.
You save money and the environment doesn't get clogged up with old plastic scrub pads. Isn't that a great idea?
6. Pre-heating is not necessary
Do you follow cookbooks to the letter? You shouldn't always take their advice as being good advice. It often is, but not always. You don't have to preheat an oven for every dish, unless for bread and pastries.
Just shove the dish in the oven and switch on, setting it at the right temperature. And re-read Green Strategy #3 in case you've forgotten.
7. Cook at home instead of eating out
Eat in more often. Americans eat out on average around five times a week! Meals that are prepared commercially are costly and may contain chemicals and ingredients that are less than really good for you.
Go for the healthier option and save your money. The environment will benefit from a little less commercial cooker activity too.
You could find yourself saving around $100 a month from eating more modest meals at home. You won't go hungry either, and you'll know what all the ingredients are.
8. Cook bigger meals
Cook once and eat twice. This is a great way to save all round. If your oven can hold two chickens, and I'll bet it can, then why not roast two instead of one every time?
Two chickens will cook in about the same amount of time that one will. Now, do the math... You will cut your cooking time in half, saving electricity or propane cooking gas and guess what happens to all the money saved! Yep, it stays right in your pocket.
You also save a lot of time when you come to prepare your next meal. Remember, it doesn't have to be just chickens. This will work with turkeys, roast beef, etc. And I surely don't have to mention the environmental benefits...
9. Eat more fruits & vegetables
An interesting statistic from Bicycling Magazine tells us that you can save around $2,000 a year on health costs on average by simply eating enough fruit and vegetables.
The average weighted price of fresh vegetables is around 64 cents per pound and the average weighted price of fresh fruit is around 71 cents per pound. The average price of a pound of beef is around $3.98.
OK, so you save money, but does it help the environment? Oh yes!
A lot of the costs are in bringing the end product to the market. Vegetables and fruit are cheaper to produce. Their production is less harmful to the environment too.
Consider also that vegetables are plants and most fruits grow on trees, which both absorb CO2 and give out oxygen. Cattle, pigs and sheep don't do that.
In fact, they do the opposite. Cattle especially produce a lot of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. They breathe it out and expel millions of tons of it in other ways that are best left unmentioned.
So, when you breed a lot of cattle for food... You figure it out.
10. Less milk with your cereals
How many times do you or your children eat a bowl of cereal and end up with all the cereal gone, but a quarter cup of milk left at the bottom of the bowl, which gets drunk on its own?
You could save around six gallons of milk a year if the cereal and the milk both ended at the same time.
No, I don't mean put in more cereal, I mean put in less milk! You'll save money and ease up a little on the need for milk production too.
Now, imagine if every single person who eats cereal every morning did the same...
11. Freeze milk
And sticking with milk, if you find it on sale at a bargain, buy a lot at the cheaper price and freeze it.
Milk will freeze just fine. It takes a little while to thaw out, so you do need to plan ahead a bit. The fat can separate from the milk, so it needs a good shake after thawing too.
Apart from that though, it will taste exactly the same after thawing out as fresh milk will.
12. Go mealprep
You can consolidate your cooking and save both in money and energy. It's perfectly possible to cook for a whole week in one go.
It will take a little planning and probably a whole afternoon (Sunday afternoon perhaps?), but after you've cooked for the week, all you have to do is freeze or chill the individual meals, ready for heating up when you need them.
This idea was popular during World War II when resources were more scarce. It still makes sense though.
You don't have to cook the whole meal, of course. If you plan to have pasta with a meat dish, just cook the meat beforehand as pasta cooks fast and is best fresh.
Use your common sense and make a plan, and you'll be amazed at how easy it is and how much you can save for yourself and the planet.
13. Save energy slow cooking
Whatever happened to the idea of pot roasts? They don't seem to be so popular these days, which is a pity when you consider that cooking a chicken in a slow cooker for seven or eight hours uses one third of the energy that cooking it in an oven does.
The same applies to any meat you might want to cook, as well as vegetables and whatever else you can think of.
If you have cheap electricity at night, which is common in some places, then make use of it to slowly cook something overnight! It can be that simple.
14. Go organic (food)!
I'll bet you've been wondering when I was going to mention organic food. Well, here it is, and more importantly, here's why you should eat organic food.
It probably is better for you, but if you're serious about going green, 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 ordinary 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 out into the atmosphere.
15. Serve up less
Serve up less food on the family's plates. Americans have a wasteful habit of serving up too much food. This leads to an amazing amount of waste.
On average, 30% to 50% of the food we buy gets dumped! And that's whether we eat at home or eat out. 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. Try explaining that to people in third world countries who spend their days starving, just wondering where their next meal is coming from.
Train your family to reach a point of zero food waste. It simply makes sense from every possible angle.
How much could your family save in a year of practicing zero food waste? How much would the environment benefit from it?
16. Stop drinking bottled water
Does your home use bottled water? Yes? You could be throwing away a whopping $1,400 on average 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.
You could invest around $100 for a multistage water filter to fit to your existing water supply. It's already safe to drink, but this will make it taste great every bit as good as bottled water, and you'll save around $1,300 a year on a verage.
The environment will feel better too without all that plastic being dumped in landfills.
If you still need to carry water in bottles, consider using reusable bottles. You can get stainless steel water bottles, for example, that will last a lifetime.
Consider this: Americans burn some 1.5 million barrels of oil every year just to produce all the plastic bottles of water we use.
How many cars would that power for a year? Around 100,000! That's the number of cars in a fair sized city.
17. Make use of pressure cooking
Remember science classes? The boiling point of water at sea level is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. It changes though with increased pressure. This is the basis of the pressure cooker.
Food will cook three to four times faster in a pressure cooker.
It often tastes better too. You use less energy in cooking, so you save money and help the environment.
One other benefit is cooking on hot days. Because cooking times are drastically reduced, the kitchen doesn't heat up so much, so there's less need for increased air conditioning, and less energy used all round!
And if your grandmother tells you horror stories of the old days when pressure cookers occasionally exploded, that was then.
Technology has moved on a lot, and pressure cookers are completely safe to use these days.
There are other major benefits to cooking in a pressure cooker... You know how some foods seem to taste better the second time round as leftovers? They taste great the first time round, but there seems to be more flavor when the food has lain for a time.
This is especially true of stews and sauces, and it's because the flavors bind together and mature better given a little time. That's what a pressure cooker does first time, every time! The higher heat and the increased pressure squeezes, combines an d melds the flavors together faster.
The proof is in the taste!
Pressure cookers use less liquid for cooking, so the nutritional value is increased. This means that the food you cook is actually better for you. Phew! Convinced yet? I hope you are...
18. Use a sink faucet
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 less of it, so it does a similar job. It gives you a needle spray pattern that's actually more efficient too.
Cost to buy? Minimal. Benefit to your pocket and the environment? Immense!
19. Recycle kitchen waste
Where would a bunch of kitchen “be green and save money” tips be without the mention of recycling?
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.
For example, how long do you think it takes a glass bottle to decompose and become a natural part of the environment again? Let me tell you: 4,000 years.
That means that the glass bottles you throw out that get dumped in landfills will not blend back into nature until the 61st century! Is that what you want to have happen to your glass waste?
Take a drinks can that gets recycled. It can often be back on a supermarket shelf in another form in about two months time. That's just one good reason for recycling used cans.
Incredibly, the a verage child in America goes through some 500 drinks cans a year.
Consider that you can often redeem cans and bottles for rebates. That just has to be worth doing.
Ten years ago we threw 37,000 bottles and cans into landfills every minute! How many do yo u think we are throwing away into landfills today?
You may also be eligible for a reduced garbage collection charge if you sort out the different items for recycling, and of course the environment benefits too.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to save waste and energy in your kitchen. From reducing energy for cooking, to separating and recycling kitchen waste.
What is your favorite green strategy? Let us know in the comment section below!