The kitchen is one of the least environmentally friendly rooms in an average house. There are usually multiple appliances in a kitchen, and many of those appliances use water as well as energy. How you use your kitchen also affects how eco friendly the room is. Inefficient cooking, non environmentally-friendly foods, and food waste are problems that will increase your carbon footprint. However, for the sake of this article, we will only be exploring the kitchen as a room. The food you bring in and how you prepare that food present environmental problems separate to how green your kitchen is. Think of your kitchen like a tool, and this article will suggest ways to make that tool as green and energy efficient as possible.
Making your kitchen more environmentally friendly isn’t difficult. Small changes, like not leaving the fridge open or air drying dishes, can make a big difference. Energy efficient appliances and green building materials can yield greater rewards.
The Test of Time
When you buy something, you do not want to replace it shortly after purchase. It can be tempting to save some money and buy cheap pots, pans, or cooking utensils, but resist this urge. Instead of buying an inexpensive non-stick pan it is a much better idea to grab a stainless steel or cast iron pan. Stainless steel and cast iron pans do cost more, but they also last significantly longer. In fact, a good quality cast iron pan can be passed down through the generations. This principle applies to smaller kitchen accessories too. The dollar store is more than happy to sell you sub par cooking utensils because they will break quickly, which lets the store sell you the same product again and again. Break this cycle by investing in proper utensils. Spend slightly more money up front rather than spending a smaller amount of money more frequently.
Before you go out and buy a new kitchen gadget or utensil, consider if it is something you truly need. Perhaps you are struck with the urge to make pasta by hand and want to buy a pasta maker. Before scooping up a pasta maker, think about how often you will use the machine. Should you buy the machine and end up not using it, then you have wasted money and the product. Buying something only to toss it out is not eco-friendly as it creates unnecessary waste. Instead of buying something new, see if there is a kitchen library in your area. A kitchen library acts like a traditional library, but instead of books you can borrow small to medium sized kitchen appliances. Borrowing a gadget lets you see if you would truly use the item before investing.
When it comes to large appliances like fridges and ovens, the greenest choice is usually to maintain and repair the appliances you have rather than replace them. The exceptions to this rule are when an appliance can’t be repaired or is severely energy inefficient. When it is time to replace appliances, be sure to properly dispose of your old appliances. Many communities have take-back programs that will help you correctly dispose appliances that may contain hazardous chemicals or materials.
Newer models of appliances tend to be more energy efficient than their older counterparts, but there are some new appliances that are even more energy efficient. When shopping for a new appliance look for Energy Star labels. An Energy Star label denotes an appliance certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be energy efficient. Energy Star appliances may cost a bit more, but they will save you money in the long run. Due to their energy efficiency, Energy Star appliances use less power over their lifetime, which saves you money on monthly electricity bills.
Washing the Dishes
You may think that using a dishwasher is less eco-friendly than washing dishes by hand, but that is not always the case. A fully loaded dishwasher uses an estimated 37% less water than hand washing the same amount of dishes. For smaller amounts of dishes, handwashing is the green option, but for large loads do not be afraid to use the dishwasher.
Most dishwashers have an economy setting designed to use less water and energy. Every dishwasher is different, so experiment with the different settings on your specific model. Regardless of model turning off the heated dry option will save you energy. Instead of using the extra power to use the heated dry allow your dishes to air dry.
Everyone knows the feeling of not knowing what to eat. Sometimes that indecision leads you to stand in front of the fridge with the doors open looking at your options. However, leaving the fridge door open wastes energy.
Your fridge may also be leaking cold air therefore wasting energy. An easy way to see if your fridge is leaking is to trap a piece of paper in the door. Once the paper is securely trapped by the seal of the fridge door, pull it out. If the paper comes free with little resistance, your fridge is likely leaking cold air and you should look into getting the seal repaired or replaced.
If you decide to remodel your kitchen, there are some green ways to go about it. There are many green options for building materials. Consider using green materials for the largest elements like countertops or flooring. Glass tiles are one of the greenest options for backsplashes and recycled glass tiles are even more green. Countertops made of paper might sound silly, but when recycled paper is mixed with resins it creates a durable heat and stain resistant surface perfect for the kitchen. Cork, or more accurately the bark of a cork tree, can be harvested every nine years without harming the tree. Cork flooring is easy to install and once sealed it is resistant to spills and stains while staying soft underfoot.
Making your kitchen more environmentally friendly isn’t difficult. Small changes, like not leaving the fridge open or air drying dishes, can make a big difference. Energy efficient appliances and green building materials take more effort, but can yield greater rewards down the road.
What are your favorite ways to make your kitchen more eco-friendly?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.
“PIN & SHARE”