How to Go Green in the Kitchen
In this day and age, more and more people are finding ways to reduce their carbon footprint and be environmentally conscious, and for good reason. The environment needs our help, and although it's mostly mass corporations that cause the most harm to the environment, making changes in your day to day life will help too, especially if more and more people do it. One great place to start is in the kitchen. Reducing single-use plastic consumption has been a popular trend recently, but there's even more you can do to help. Here are just a few ways how.
Save Your Energy
The amount of energy being used in your kitchen is vast. Your refrigerator is one of the biggest energy guzzlers, and when you put hot foods right into the fridge then it has to use more energy to cool it down. Let your hot foods cool on their own before putting it into the fridge or freezer. When it comes to your dishwasher, studies have shown less water is used in a dishwasher than by hand. So be sure your dishwasher is completely full, let it wash, and then leave the dishwasher open to air dry. This will save on your water and electricity.
Gas stoves are also more eco-friendly. They take less time to heat up than an electric stove, and you can control the temperature better too. With instant heat, comes quicker cooking, and less energy being used. However, smaller appliances are the way to go when cooking. If possible, use a microwave, toaster oven, pressure cooker instead of the stove. If you have to use the stove, then try cooking a few things at once to save on time. Lastly, most appliances can easily be turned off or unplugged when not in use.
Cut the Plastic
Recently there has been a debate about banning straws, and some big places like Starbucks or Disney are making moves to get rid of them. However, many people with disabilities need straws still, so the solution isn’t banning them. Instead, replace the plastic with something reusable. Along with ditching straws, try out a reusable water bottle. It can help save you money, and reduce your plastic intake. Using glass containers for food storage and reusable bags at the grocery store are other ways of reducing your plastic intake.
There are a few ways to be smart with your cooking. For instance, cover your food when cooking. It’s good to have a nice pan and lid combo for your kitchen. This will trap the heat and make it cook faster, which will save on energy. When it comes to boiling water, chances are you’re using more than you need. The more water, the longer it takes to boil. One tip to keep in mind is that while you’re boiling something, see if it’s possible to put a colander on top and use it as a makeshift steamer!
When it comes to cookware, avoid the traditional non-stick pans coated with Teflon. Cast-iron and stainless steel, or newer ceramic made methods, are the way to go. Pans made with Teflon are not long lasting, as the Teflon breaks down after only a few months, and can release toxins when cooked at high temperatures. Try to buy only the necessary cookware as well, and ones with lids that fit tightly.
Recycle It All
If you already recycle your plastic bottles or aluminum cans, then great! The EPA estimates that 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it. Set up your kitchen so it’s easy to toss whatever you need to in the recycling bin. Some states even pay you to recycle! You can also recycle your food too Get a container to toss your food scraps in and then put them in an outdoor composter. One important part of recycling is also being conscious of what you buy. If you live alone, don’t buy enough food for a family of four, and try buying things in bulk as well. Some places you can take your own containers, like mason jars, to fill up on products. Being conscientious about your purchases will help limit how much recycling you actually have to do.
Be Food Conscious
One way to go green in your kitchen is to be food conscious. Try buying your products from small and local businesses instead of big companies. It has been estimated that 13% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the production and transport of food. Buying local also helps boost your community’s economy, and often times their products are better tasting.
Another way to be food conscious is to lower your beef and dairy intake. A recent study shows that while meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the 83% of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. Going vegan or vegetarian would really lower your carbon footprint, but if you don’t want to give up meat or dairy then try eating less beef in general. And when you do buy beef or dairy, try buying it from local farmers as mentioned above. Your neighborhood farmers make their livelihood from their farm, but unfortunately some of the bigger beef industries reap resources and cause mass deforestation.