Being conscious of the way we live and spend our money helps us make positive changes in our sustainable lifestyle. When we look at simple changes that we can start making right now, it seems a tad bit easier.
Consider the kitchen, for example. It is the busiest room in our homes or the heart as we might call it. By making small, mindful changes, we can easily have an eco-friendly kitchen.
Eco-friendly cleaning products, energy-efficient cooking, and reducing leftovers, are some of the easiest ways to clean up the kitchen. With so many options available, knowing where to begin can be a little overwhelming.
To make it slightly easy, we have put together a simple and pocket-friendly guide that will help you have a more sustainable kitchen.
1. Invest in safe and durable cookware
Investing in safe and long-lasting cookware items is a great start to having a more sustainable kitchen. And safe does not include plastic or Teflon-coated cookware.
- The debate about non-stick surfaces being a safer option for cooking remains unresolved. However, we know it has a fixed lifespan. Why not spend on a cast iron skillet and ceramic cookware instead, which last longer and are just as good?
- Look for quality items like a good knife that you can sharpen easily, yourself. Or try wooden ladles that will not melt, unlike plastic ones. These items might cost you a little more, but they will surely last generations.
Check out GreenPan if you are looking for good ceramic non-stick cookware.
- Experimenting in the kitchen is a great way to explore new ways of cooking. But it might lead to unnecessary shopping.
If there are certain kitchen gadgets that you know will be used once in a blue moon, we suggest borrowing them instead of buying new ones. This way, you save money and storage space. Besides, who needs a banana slicer when we can simply use a knife?
Related Article: 10 Non-Toxic Cookware Brands That Are Safe For Your Kitchen And The Planet
2. Bulk shop and check out the farmer’s market
We know shopping in bulk for everyday items like flour, nuts, and spices, that are needed all year round, is a smart way to save extra bucks. This is a viable option, however, only if you have suitable storage space in your kitchen.
- We suggest looking for zero-waste stores around you. Most of these stores will allow you to bring your own containers and help you go plastic-free while shopping.
- Make a list of items like grains and spices you regularly need in your kitchen. Stick to the list when shopping. This will help you avoid buying unnecessary items and reduce wastage.
- It is important to make sure these bulk items are stored safely in your kitchen. Use air-tight stainless steel or glass containers to store these items for longer shelf life.
- Oh, and yes! Avoid buying frozen foods. When it comes to produce, we recommend buying fresh foods always. This will ensure you consume less processed food. In addition, you should know where your food comes from.
- A weekend trip to the local farmer’s market will easily sort out your weekly needs. Just make sure to clean and store the fresh produce properly, well, so that it doesn’t get spoiled.
- This will also help you save energy as you won’t require the extra steps of defrosting and dehydrating food items again.
Related Article: 14 Zero-Waste Shopping Tips To Follow On Your Next Grocery Run
3. Save energy while cooking
There is so much we can do while cooking that helps us have a more sustainable kitchen. There are many delicious recipes that don’t require energy, like making a healthy salad, or even preparing sushi.
Here are some mindful tips to be more energy efficient while cooking.
- According to a study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, putting a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner, wastes over 40% of the heat created by the burner. It is important to choose the right utensils while cooking.
- The smarter ovens barely require any preheating time. They are designed to reach the desired temperatures quickly and efficiently. This avoids the pre-heating step.
Instead, we suggest switching the oven off a little earlier and allowing the dish to remain in the oven for an extra 10-15 minutes. This will ensure the cooking gets completed with the residual heat.
- The same goes for an electric cooktop. Put a lid on the container and let it sit after turning off the heat, until you serve. It sounds like a small change, but it can save good amounts of energy when practiced regularly.
- According to Energy Star, we can reduce energy while cooking by as much as 80% when using the microwave instead of the oven. In case you still need the oven, we recommend cooking multiple dishes in one go.
- Pressure cooking is a big yes. It is not only faster but also more efficient way of cooking. In fact, it can reduce your cooking time up to 70%.
4. Minimize waste
Whether you are aiming for a zero-waste kitchen or a more sustainable kitchen, it is essential to minimize waste. Here are a few ways that worked out for us on our eco-friendly journey and are definitely worth a try!
- Start with buying naked items. This will help you skip the plastic packaging and the unwanted waste that comes along with it. Carrying your own reusable grocery bag and containers will also help avoid packaging waste.
- There are a few brands that provide compostable packaging. It is a better choice over plastic packaging. In case you find glass containers and other reusable packaging items, reuse them as storage at home or in the kitchen.
- If you often have leftovers, it is important to reconsider the amount of food you are cooking. Cook only how much is needed. Also, use up the leftovers before cooking again. We have some delicious recipes to utilize leftovers from your kitchen.
- Instead of throwing away vegetable scrapes, and peels, use them to make a broth. Or, you can add these to the compost pile.
5. Compost more, waste less!
Composting at home is a simple and easy way to minimize waste. You need to be mindful about what to add and what not to add to your compost pile. To start composting at home, all you need is a compost bin or a composter (if you are composting in the garden)
- Start by storing all your compostable items in an air-tight container before you add them to the compost mix.
- The second step is to make the compost mix. It has two elements – the greens and the browns. Greens are generally the organic waste from your kitchen, like vegetable peels, yard clippings, etc. They add nitrogen which is essential for the growth of microbes.
- The browns are carbon-rich items like pine needles, paper, egg cartons, etc. These help with proper airflow in your compost bin. Layer the browns, followed by the greens, in multiple layers. Remember to always keep more parts brown and lesser parts green, to ensure a healthy compost.
- Let the decomposition work now. Turn the compost once every 7 to 10 days (i.e., every 1 and a half weeks) to keep the airflow going. Use a stick or a shovel. If your compost seems too wet and not fluffy, then your compost needs more browns. Adjust the ratios and TADAA… Your compost will be ready in 3 to 4 months.
Related Article: Tips & Tools To Help You Make Compost From Kitchen Waste
6. Opt for energy-efficient appliances
The market is flooded with energy-efficient appliances that will save you a good deal on your bills. For example, cleaning dishes in an efficient dishwasher will save you more water than doing dishes by hand.
- It is important to consider repairs before replacing your appliance altogether. Remember, repairing will create less waste than replacing anything.
- If there is no scope for repairs, make sure to dispose of the item responsibly. Check for company takeback programs or community drop-off centers, making sure that the appliance will be recycled and not end up in a landfill.
- In case you are planning to upgrade the appliances in your kitchen, we recommend energy-efficient appliances. The Energy Star ratings are the best way to know if your appliances are efficient.
7. DIY green cleaning
Another important way to have a more sustainable kitchen is to opt for green cleaning methods. Conventional cleaning solutions have toxic chemicals like formaldehydes, which can be harmful to our health and the environment.
- It is better to opt for greener alternatives that are free of such toxins. We can also make our own cleaning solution at home with simple ingredients like baking soda and water.
- Here is a quick recipe to whip up an all-purpose cleaner for your kitchen – Mix one part of white vinegar with one part of water. Add some lemon rind and rosemary sprigs for a sweet-smelling solution.
Let it sit for a week or so, to infuse all the ingredients. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and use it for cleaning all around your kitchen. Easy, isn’t it?
- There are some amazing non-toxic cleaning products available in the market too. Check out Ecos and Clean Cult to get eco-friendly cleaning solutions for your home.
Related Article: 6 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products For Your Sustainable Home
The key to ensuring a sustainable kitchen is simple – just make an effort. It may take some time to change your lifestyle, but all good things take time!
You don’t have to subscribe to an extreme diet to live a more sustainable life. Even minor changes in your kitchen such as eliminating plastic bottles and bringing your own bags to the grocery store, can make a huge difference.
The little things in your life will get you closer to a healthier and greener future. Keep at it, and you will find that being eco-friendly doesn’t only feel right; it feels great!