There are four essential things that will make a sustainable kitchen.
Food and packaging waste, water consumption, energy consumption and materials. Here are some easy and slightly harder things you can do to create a sustainable kitchen.
1. Cook energy efficient
If you’re buying new, try purchasing second hand and prioritize energy efficient equipment. The best option for cooking with electricity is induction, which is 84-percent efficient, compared to the 40-percent efficiency of gas. Ceramic glass cooktops with halogen elements are a close second as both options deliver heat almost instantaneously, reducing wasted energy.
If you don’t want or need to replace the stove then invest in high-quality cookware with sturdy bottoms. Glass and ceramic are more efficient in the oven than metal, allowing you to cook foods at 14°C (25°F) lower in the same amount of time. Cast iron pans and cookware are also great in terms of energy efficiency.
Some other key tips are
- Use the microwave when possible – California’s Consumer Energy Center estimates that cooking casserole costs $0.03 in the microwave, versus an electric oven at $0.16
- Keep the stove and microwave clean can help with efficiency
- Cook double amounts so that you have leftovers
- Use the right size pots and pans for what you’re cooking and where you place it
- When using the oven, make the most of it by cooking several things at the same time
2. Reduce waste
Remember to refuse, reduce and reuse before considering recycling as the solution. Avoid single-use plastics, buy things that last or that are biodegradable.
If your household consumes bottled water or uses a water filter, replace it with one with biodegradable cartridges such as TAPP 2. For sparkling water, get a Sodastream or similar instead of purchasing plastic bottles.
When buying new appliances and tools for the kitchen buy things that last. It might cost a bit more to start with but will usually pay off in the long run, especially for the environment.
Other simple tips include:
- Rather than recycling bottles and cans, use glass ball and weck jars
- Bring reusable bags for shopping and your own containers for takeout
- Only buy food with no or minimal packaging
3. Throw away less food
A more sustainable kitchen will also help you save money. About 150,000 tons of food is tossed out in US households each day, equivalent to about a third of the daily calories that each American consumes. If food waste was a country, it would be the third contributor to climate change after China and the US. These are some simple tips to reduce food-waste.
- Plan the week ahead with a meal schedule, and check your fridge and pantry before going to the store to see what you already have.
- Prepare several meals at once so that you have meals ready when you need them. Freeze some if needed before they turn bad..
- Organise a dedicated place in the fridge for leftovers and food near the due date. Alternatively, clean and move things around the fridge often to be aware of what you have.
- Learn more about how to store each kind of food. Did you know that the ethylene gas produced by apples prevents potatoes from sprouting? Learn other tricks like this one here.
- Don’t peel – If you’re buying great local produce, especially from a nutrient standpoint, keep the peels on.
- Think about ways to use the most of everything you have. For example, by using the top leaves of carrots to cook pesto.
- Don’t have a backyard? Compost right in your kitchen without looking like a hippie thanks to modern solutions such as Foodcycler and you will have fresh soil for plants and flowers all year around.
- Water savings
Although the kitchen generally doesn’t consume as much water as the bathroom or garden there are still several opportunities to reduce water consumption.
- Using the dishwasher instead of cleaning by hand as it’s generally more water and energy efficient
- Always keep a carafe with cold water in the fridge instead of letting the water run until it’s cold
- Install a water pedal or motion sensor to control the faucet will typically save a lot of water and keep the faucet cleaner
That’s it. Get started today with one of two of these tips and you will be on your path to a more sustainable kitchen. Together we will make a difference.