How to Create an Environmentally Friendly Kitchen
If you’re thinking about making some changes that make both your world and the world better, start in your kitchen. It’s probably a hub of activity in your life, offers plenty of opportunities to save money and — because it’s a key area of resource use and waste production — it’s a great place to make changes with an environmental impact.
Here are 8 simple, Kitchen-centric Commitments That Benefit You and the Environment:
1. Make Fewer Shopping Trips
Shop less frequently (especially for non-perishables) with a shopping list to eliminate forgotten items.
How you benefit: Save gas and time and make fewer potentially unhealthy and expensive impulse purchases.
How the environment benefits: Fewer fossil fuels used.
2. Buy Local Food
Take control over your purchase of food and prioritize what you can find that’s locally grown and in the season to put your eating in sync with your geography. Many co-ops and natural food stores champion local food. Also, check your local media for info about farmers markets and CSAs, or look them up on the Local Harvest website.
How you benefit: Get fresh, in-season food from people in your community and support your local economy.
How the environment benefits: Lower carbon footprint with less travel and packaging for food that’s in harmony with your geography and seasons.
3. Choose Organic Whenever Possible
Finding certified organic products is increasingly easy, even in conventional grocery stores. Look for organic produce, meat, beans, grains, peanut butter, milk, cheese, spices and even snack foods.
How you benefit: Reduce pesticide residues in your food and environment. Buying organic also ensures that your food is free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
How the environment benefits: Reduced negative environmental impact of harsh chemical pesticides and herbicides that pollute our environment.
4. Buy Food Produced Ethically and Sustainably
Research food brands and providers that produce their goods without the exploitation of people or land. You’ll enjoy your food more knowing it was grown with respect for the environment and that the people who produce it are treated fairly and respectfully.
How you benefit: Feel good knowing that your food purchases support your values.
How the environment benefits: Supporting ethical, sustainable sourcing (e.g. small farmer co-ops) and manufacturing creates a more caring relationship with the land and more responsible use of resources.
5. Buy in Bulk
Take advantage of one of the greenest and most economical ways to shop — bulk. Learn about the advantages of buying in bulk from the Bulk is Green (BIG) Council website.
How you benefit: Lower prices and the ability to purchase only the amount needed.
How the environment benefits: Reduces resource use and waste due to less packaging and less transportation weight.
6. Waste Less Food and Water
Store food properly, recycle any packaging that you can and compost biodegradables like eggshells, coffee grounds, and fruit and vegetable skins. To conserve water, install an inexpensive faucet aerator and fill your dishwasher completely before using it.
How you benefit: Reduces resources purchased but not used (i.e. waste) — and your water bill.
How the environment benefits: Reduces local waste stream and greenhouse gas emissions.
7. Consider Energy Efficiency When Choosing Cookware and Appliances
Use pots and pans that distribute and retain heat better, requiring less energy. Use energy-efficient appliances (with the Energy Star seal of approval) and conservation settings on your appliances to save energy. A little internet research will help you invest in quality energy efficiency items that will last well.
How you benefit: Lower energy costs and replacement-cost savings on longer-lasting high-quality items.
How the environment benefits: Fewer energy resources required and reduced waste stream.
8. Use Green Cleaning Products in Your Kitchen
Make your own cleaning products with natural and inexpensive ingredients, such as essential oils and kitchen staples. (An increasing number of pre-made, natural cleaning products also are available.)
How you benefit: Save the cost of expensive chemical-laden commercial products and their packaging and customize your cleaners to your needs and preferences.
How the environment benefits: Reduces chemicals put into the air and keeps containers out of landfills.
Small changes often yield big results, in both our habits and the environment. This is especially true in our kitchens, where we satisfy one of life’s basic needs, use resources in abundance and create waste. Make some of these simple resolutions to make your kitchen greener. Not only will you be helping the planet, but you’ll also be helping your budget — and you’ll have the satisfaction of maintaining a more sustainable kitchen.