How to make your kitchen more sustainable
In last week’s blog, we looked at how to make your wardrobe more sustainable. Today, we’re turning our attention to the most popular room in the house – the kitchen. (It’s the room where we’re estimated to spend 12% of our lives!)
If you’re looking for ways to make your kitchen more sustainable, here are some of our favourite tips:
1. Choose an energy-efficient stove
Research shows that, when it comes to energy efficiency, induction cooking is usually the best bet.
With this technology, up to 90% of the energy consumed is transferred to the food, compared to about 74% for traditional electric systems and 40% for gas.
You can read more about the pros and cons of current stovetop options here.
2. Opt for other energy-efficient appliances
It’s not just your stove that could be more energy-efficient. Switching to more energy-efficient kitchen appliances and white goods can help lower your carbon footprint too.
The Energy Saving Trust has a helpful guide about what to look for when choosing home appliances, including energy ratings and other energy-saving tips. For example:
– Only boil as much water as you need in the kettle
– Wait until you have a full load of washing before you run your washing machine and wash on low temperatures
– Don’t leave appliances on standby
– Choose a slim-line dishwasher to save water and electricity
Of course, before you replace a kitchen appliance, do explore whether your existing one can be repaired.
If an appliance is beyond repair, make sure it’s disposed of appropriately. Many companies that sell white goods will take your old appliances away but what happens to them then?
Retailers’ websites should offer more information.
– Does the company you plan to use clean, refurbish and test used white goods before donating them to community causes?
– What do they do to keep e-waste out of landfills?
– How do they repurpose packaging?
A good business with transparent environmental policies/practices will welcome your questions.
3. Practice energy-efficient cooking
Have a think about how you use your cooking appliances – you might be surprised to learn how much energy you’re wasting!
Do you always pre-heat the oven before you put food in it? This isn’t necessary for most modern cookers.
Could you turn the oven off a few minutes earlier and let the food finish cooking in the residual heat?
What size pans do you cook in? You might be using pans that are too large for what you’re making.
Do your pans have close-fitting lids? If you pop a lid on a pan when you’re bringing water up to boil, it will heat up much quicker.
4. Buy local, in-season ingredients
Wherever possible, look for local produce, especially fruit and veg that are in season and sold with little to no packaging.
This is a great way to support local independent businesses, including local farmers. It helps to keep money within your community and significantly reduces the environmental impact of the food you eat.
5. Switch to eco-friendly cleaning products
Many of today’s kitchen cleaning products contain petrochemicals, i.e. chemicals made from petroleum known to be damaging to the environment as well as to humans and our animal kin.
One way to make your kitchen more sustainable is to opt for natural cleaning products.
A growing number of companies are producing biodegradable, non-toxic, plant-based cleaning products.
Another option is to make your own. Everyday ingredients such as lemon juice, white vinegar and baking soda can be combined to make surprisingly effective general-purpose cleaners.
Don’t believe us? Here are five fantastic recipes from Friends of the Earth for you to try.
6. Cut down your waste
We produce more waste in the kitchen than any other room in the house, not least because of the vast amounts of packaging that most shop-bought food comes in.
You can reduce kitchen waste by:
– Planning meals in advance
– Batch cooking and freezing leftovers
– Using reusable food storage containers
– Reducing your food portions
– Reusing as much packaging as possible, e.g. glass jars, bottles
– Composting any uncooked organic waste (including cardboard and paper)
– Recycling what you can
7. Invest in long-lasting cookware
Cookware and kitchen utensils are a lot cheaper than they used to be but, like many modern items, they’re not always made to last and are made from materials that are harmful to the environment.
Although it does require an initial investment, the most eco-friendly option is to go for stainless steel or cast iron cookware that will last for years and save you money long-term.
8. Join a kitchen library (or start one up)
Are you a sucker for a kitchen gadget? Instead of rushing out to buy the latest time saver, it’s worth seeing whether there’s a kitchen library near you, i.e. a place from which to borrow or rent kitchen items.
You may find that there’s a local Facebook group where people donate and swap items.
If not, how about setting up your own kitchen library and advertising it locally?
9. Channel your inner Marie Kondo
When was the last time you sorted out your kitchen cupboards?
Many of us have drawers and cupboards that are bursting at the seams with old crockery, kitchen gadgets and utensils, as well as food items that have been pushed to the back of a shelf.
Things can go missing in the middle of this clutter. So before you replace an item that you think you’ve lost, it’s worth having a sort through what you already have. You may be surprised by what you find.
And before you put everything back into the cupboards, why not see if there’s anything that you no longer need but could sell or donate? Many communities have sharing and recycling groups on social media. Charity shops and other donation schemes will usually accept cookware and utensils too.
10. Buy less
It might sound obvious but one of the most powerful ways we can make our kitchens more sustainable is simply to buy less.
In our current society, we’re bombarded with marketing messages that urge us to buy and consume at any astonishing rate. We’re promised quick fixes, time savers, life hacks… the next big thing.
But how much of it is actually necessary or truly enhances our lives in any way?
Committing to buying less and using what we already have to its fullest potential is a fantastic starting point and something we can all achieve.
Do you run or know of an ethical business that can help people make their kitchens more sustainable? Yes?! Then we’d love to add this business to our directory too.
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