More people are becoming aware of how their lifestyles affect the environment. If you’re trying to transition to eco-friendly living, having a greener kitchen is one of the best places to start.
Did you know that in the US alone, 30 per cent of all food is thrown away each year, with 11 per cent coming from residential areas? Australia’s food waste rate is only a little better at 25 per cent.
After that, one can consider each plastic wrapper or bottle thrown in the bin, or the electricity and water wasted for every dish washed.
Fortunately, sustainable options are usually the more “frugal” ones too, so if you’re thinking about saving resources, these tips we’ll share for a greener kitchen will also save you money.
Top 10 realistic tips for a greener kitchen
One of the simplest steps is to reduce waste, and there are two ways to do this. First is to prevent excessive packaging by bringing your bags, buying fresh and unwrapped produce, and considering how the meals you purchase are packaged. The second step is to avoid buying and preparing more food portions than you or your family can consume. If you notice that you’re throwing away more food than you are eating, it’s more than likely that you are preparing too much!
Segregate and recycle
Get you and your loved ones into the habit of recycling by having dedicated bins for your trash. It might seem “obvious” to some, but not everyone practises this simple advice. Separate plastics and recyclables in one bin and compostables in the other (which we’ll share more about in the next tip).
Also, consider purchasing products in reusable glass containers than plastic. Not only do they last longer, but some people argue they also make your drink or food taste better.
Prepare your own meals
While you might think less waste is caused by preparing ready-to-eat frozen meals, they spend more time in the supply chain, from farm to processing to grocery store. Preparing your own meals by buying fresh ingredients not only helps cut down packaging, but it can cut your carbon footprint also.
Save your leftovers
Speaking of excess food – AKA leftovers – why not “re-create” them into something new rather than throwing them out? Excess bone-in meat is great for broths, while those unsuitable for consumption can still be used as compost.
Invest in quality cookware
Choose cookware and utensils that can last you for a lifetime (almost) so that you don’t have to replace them repeatedly. For example, while non-stick Teflon-coated pans may seem convenient, they have a limited time for use and eventually have to be disposed of at the end of their life when the coating wears off.
Consider purchasing a cast iron pan instead; it lasts for years and only needs easy coating and maintenance. It makes your steaks taste better too! For utensils, instead of buying disposables and plastics, invest in high-quality stainless steel that can last you a lifetime.
Opt for energy-saving appliances
Like cookware, appliances are one of the most common things used inside the kitchen. Opt for energy-efficient appliances by checking their energy-star rating before purchasing. Then, choose the sturdiest brand and model that your budget will allow. It might feel more costly initially, but it will save you more money in the long run.
Use cloths instead of paper towels
This tip is a no-brainer. Cloth towels can be reused over and over. Paper towels go into the bin – yes, even the ones made by recycled paper. Save your money to spend on other products and use sustainably sourced cotton washcloths to wipe your kitchen clean.
Use biodegradable garbage bags
Plastic is one of the leading causes of pollution and waste in landfills and oceans. Most garbage bags are made from plastic, and they don’t decompose. But innovations are available such as biodegradable garbage bags or, even better, compostable plastic bags made from plant-based materials.
One of the best ways to recycle your kitchen scraps is via composting. It can help reduce methane gas, preserve water, and fertilise your garden soil naturally. Composting isn’t as difficult as you might think. The easiest way to do so is simply by creating a small bin where you can put all your scraps, along with some garden soil, and add a few worms. Here’s a video tutorial to serve as your guide:
Support local ingredients
Whatever food you bring into your kitchen is just as important as the tools and utensils you use. Food that has to travel for longer has a bigger environmental footprint. The fewer miles food spends on the road – or in the air – the better. You get to support your local farmers too! Organic cherries from Spain might taste delicious, but think of the pollution caused just by flying them in.
Whenever possible, support community-supported agriculture, and buy local farm-to-table produce.
Climate change is real, and while we are not expecting everyone to do a complete 180, small steps count – like having a greener kitchen.