Four Easy Fixes To Go Green In The Kitchen
The end of 2018 brought some devastating news about climate change and the state of the environment. Simply put: it’s real, it’s bad, but there are solutions. Some solutions include sweeping legislation on the federal level. There are a number of things you can do in your own home, though, that will make a huge difference in the long run. For now, let’s take it one room at a time.
The Kitchen has to be the busiest place of any house. It houses the most appliances of any room, uses tons of electricity, gas, and water, and produces tons of waste in the process. It never seems to stay clean and gets used multiple times a day. But that doesn’t mean it can’t also be sustainable. Follow these 4 steps to cut down on waste and improve the green quality of your kitchen.
Make The Switch
Energy efficient appliances have been on the market for quite a while now. Which means the market has had time to saturate and you’ve got a wide array of brands and models from which to choose. But how much are you actually saving by switching to energy efficient?
Dishwashers made before 1994 use 10-15 gallons of water to wash 1 load of dishes on the Normal setting. Add an extra rinse, use the One-Hour setting, or any heated drying and the amount only increases. The first round of green dishwashers cut that down to only 4 gallons per load, and some models now use around only 3 gallons. That’s an average of 7-12 gallons of water saved.
Compost, Recycle, and Trash Properly
This seems like a no-brainer, but did you know that American households waste around $144 billion in food a year? As in, that’s how much money we throw out each year by un-used, un-eaten produce, meat, and dairy. But not cookies. Cookies don’t last long enough to become garbage.
Buying only what you can eat within a week, actually eating those groceries, and disposing of them properly can drastically cut down on food waste (yes, this will require meal planning, prep and grocery lists). But it also has to be done correctly. Recyclable items that aren’t cleaned of food remnants before being put in the recycle bin will just be thrown into the landfill, along with every other item in that bin. Not everyone know this. So while there are tons of blue public recycling bins all over the country (and especially in Santa Monica) any food that gets mixed in with the bins automatically makes it all trash. Clean then recycle.
Compost is another valuable option for reducing waste. Eggshells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable skins, and even shredded up newspaper can be made into compost. Technology even exists for a home compost converting system that creates both fertilizer for your lawn and garden, and converts compost to gas that is then redirected and purposed back to your kitchen. These systems are capable of breaking down even meats and dairy (which aren’t typically compost approved). Some cities have community based compost programs with centers where you can drop off your compost. Check with your city if such program exists, or ask a city council member how to initiate a program where you live.
Ditch the Disposables
Paper towels clean up a lot of messes. We use them to dry our hands, as napkins while we eat, or to pat down freshly washed meats and produce. But they’re a major contributor to deforestation. Tea towels, terry towels, and plain cotton or linen napkins can handle every job of the paper towel. For greasy food, collect it in a glass container with a lid and either re-use in your cooking or dispose of when the jar is full. Use baking soda to wipe away the last of the grease and clean your dishes as normal.
Towels can also double as kitchen flair if you hang them on your oven or fridge handles. You can even mount a 3M hook and keep them out of the way and easily accessible. Kitschy colors and catchy phrases adorn many a kitchen towel at Target. Buy enough that you can go a week or so without needing to do laundry to keep your kitchen functioning.
Disposables aren’t only limited to paper towels. No more paper plates, plastic cups or cutlery. You have a dishwasher (an energy efficient one at that!) Make less waste. Use real dishes.
Switch your cleaning products to non-toxic, all-natural, green-based cleaning products and reusable towels. Cheap tea towels can be cut or torn into smaller sections to make cleaning rags for each individual job. As with the energy efficient appliances, the variety in brands and products is far reaching. Some of your favorite brands probably already have Green alternatives to their products.
These are just a few steps to reduce your carbon footprint in one room. But every little bit helps. Let’s all do our part to Live Long and Prosper.