Yesterday I shared a review of kitchen design trends. Today I’d like us to consider ways to make our kitchens more environmentally friendly. Even the smallest of choices we each make can create a massive impact on the environment when combined with others. If you’re looking for ways to be eco-friendly, you can easily start right in your own kitchen. Designing a kitchen that incorporates sustainable materials like stone, granite and wood, is far better for the planet and will give a natural, organic aesthetic. Natural stone and wooden cabinets are not only sustainable, but long-lasting, durable and offer timeless style.
Want to remodel? Refacing cabinets has a much smaller carbon footprint than a complete kitchen remodel. Consider giving your cabinets a makeover rather than replacing them entirely. This not only eliminates material from collecting in the landfill, but it can also save you money. If you are buying new cabinets, why not recycle the old ones? Schedule a visit to your local household recycling waste center. The majority of household appliances with a plug or battery (like dishwashers and ovens) can be recycled, alongside kitchen units and cabinets made from wood. Alternatively, if your old kitchen is still in a good condition, you could give it away to stop it from ending up in landfill. Sites like Gumtree, Freecycle Network or Facebook Marketplace are a great way to rehome unwanted items and give them a new lease of life. I like to support the local Habitat for Humanity. If I ever redo the kitchen, I will donate the old cabinets to them. They have a thrift store to raise money.
Don’t Waste Food
A vast amount of food ends up in landfills. Food waste, which is the single largest component going into municipal landfills, quickly generates methane, helping to make landfills the third largest source of methane in the United States. The nutrients in the food never return to the soil. Greenhouse gases generated from food rotting in landfills could be reduced to help mitigate climate change. You may remember my January post on not wasting food. If each of us decreases our food waste, we can make a difference. Now let’s consider other things you can do to be an eco-friendly cook.
Know Where Your Food Comes From
When cooking, it’s important to know where your food comes from. By buying seasonal and local, you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money. This practice also makes you aware of the ingredients in your food. This will ensure you eat healthy and nutritious foods. Ideally, you should support local businesses and use what’s in season. This may be small changes, but they can make a massive impact. Eating local fruits and vegetables means you don’t have to fly them long distances, thus reducing transport emissions. You may have noticed that I often share strawberry recipes in January and February. That is when Florida strawberries (a cool crop here) are in the stores. A good price for a favorite fruit and it’s grown right here. By the time we’re in April and May, California has started producing strawberries. Most of the year the U.S. is eating California strawberries.
For those in the U.K., The Guardian ‘s post, Eat This To Save The World is very informative. They examine sustainable food choices for those living in the U.K. I found it helpful even though I live in the U.S. I must admit I don’t see me eating seaweed as I have trouble digesting iodine. I love that oats are one the list as I eat old-fashioned oats almost daily. I didn’t understand previously how eco friendly a meal of molluscs are. They are up there with seaweed when it comes to sustainability points. The oysters, mussels, clams and scallops thrive on microscopic organic matter, including agricultural runoff. Their cultivation transforms waste into carbon storage (the shell) and delicious food. Wild mussel fisheries also create microhabitats for fish and other small invertebrates.
Consider the Kitchen Appliances
Energy-efficient appliances are very important. Although buying smart, sustainable kitchen appliances may come with a higher initial spend, you can save money on energy and reduce your carbon footprint. Investing in quality appliances can also mean they don’t need replacing as often.
In the kitchen one of the most important appliances is the stove. What size fits in your layout? Next, consider the type of power and cooking style you want: gas, electric, induction or dual fuel. What’s the difference? Much comes down to the chef’s preference, but there are pros and cons to each. Did you know that induction hobs are 90% more efficient compared to gas hobs at 60%? This is because they heat directly underneath a pan, so no energy is wasted.
Research which brands are rated the most green in their production, the cost of operating, and life expectancy. An induction range is more eco friendly and uses less electricity. An induction range provides the clean, smooth cooktop appearance of the electric range with the fast, easy-to-control temperatures of a gas stove. There are now popular dual options. One provides the ease and control of gas cooktop with the perfect baking of an electric oven. Electric and induction are another dual-fuel range. Consumer Report’ article, The Pros and Cons of Induction Cooktops and Ranges, has all the information you need to help you decided what you prefer.
Another option is an air fryer. It’s cheaper and more eco-friendly to use an air fryer than a conventional oven as they’re far more energy efficient. They preheat and cook much faster and don’t emit much heat. In short, they’re a win-win. I personally do much of my cooking now with an Instant Vortex Pro. It is an air fryer, 9-in-1 rotisserie and convection oven from the makers of Instant Pot. It was my Christmas present from my nephew James and his wife Heather. I do love it. To learn more about how to cook bacon in the air fryer, check out this recipe. Cooking for a few people works well with the small appliance. For larger families you may have a problem depending on what you cook.
Lighting and Windows
Lighting is another element that can have a big impact on how efficient your kitchen is. Consider not only the type of bulbs you use, but also the placement to provide maximum light. We suggest LED bulbs, spotlights or strips as these use far less energy, last longer, and still look fresh and modern. Energy-efficient bulbs use up to 80% less energy, saving you up to $75 on your electrical bill. When designing an eco-friendly kitchen, split lighting into two parts: task and mood lighting. When possible, leave the kitchen lights off and use the natural light from windows. Luckily I live in home with lots of windows and Florida’s sun.
Now comes the question of how energy efficient are your windows? There are many benefits to choosing eco-friendly windows, including enhanced energy efficiency, reducing your carbon footprint, and experiencing a more consistently comfortable home. The more energy you save, the less you’re spending monthly on utilities. Increasing your home’s efficiency can also come with tax perks and incentives from your energy company. Last summer I replaced the original old sliding glass doors in the Dining-Kitchen area. I definitely saw a difference in my electric bill. The kitchen was cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Recycle Your Waste
One of the easiest ways to be more eco-friendly when cooking is to recycle your waste. When food goes to a landfill, it fills up landfills and emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas. To reduce the amount of food going to landfill, prepare meals ahead of time and store leftovers in airtight containers or in your freezer.
This will also prevent you from making trips to the grocery store for convenience foods that have a lot of packaging. Another easy way to reduce your food waste is to compost your scraps. Composting converts your kitchen scraps into organic fertilizer. This can be used for your garden, and sometimes, even local communities will have a local compost bin for the people to use.
Remember The Basics
For a simple green update for your kitchen, upgrade all of your cookware with non-toxic, eco-friendly options. Replace your pans, pots, baking sheets with stainless steel, glass, or ceramic ones. These materials are easy to clean, help cook food faster, and don’t have any toxic finishes. When buying new cooking utensils, stay away from items made out of plastic which contain toxic products. Instead, use items made out of recycled materials like wood, metal, bamboo, or silicone.
In closing, I hope I’ve given you ideas for making your kitchen more eco friendly. Most of us are not planning on a big home improvement project in the kitchen, but we all can try to remember the small steps each of us can do for Mother Earth.
This is a collaborative post but all opinions are my own.
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