Whether you’re just mildly environmentally conscious, or a budding eco-warrior; the truth is that thinking green is here to stay. Every day, new ways to ensure the world stays healthy are being introduced, and it’s something that everybody should consider doing. From recycling and buying responsibly, to something as simple as reducing what we consume, the ways you can help to do your bit are there in every aspect of our lives.
HIPPO have recently been looking at how to go green in a number of different ways, such as in and around the workplace, as well as in the garden, now it’s time to tackle the kitchen. The kitchen happens to be the part of the house where the most waste accumulates, so here are a few things you can to do to help be more environmentally aware.
TACKLING THE WASTE
The golden rules for thinking green are reduce, reuse and recycle, and this applies nowhere more so than in the kitchen. One of the main reasons for so much waste in the kitchen is down to the packaging that’s involved with food. In terms of what can be done with food waste, check out our recent article where we discuss everything from reducing food waste, to composting. And remember, it’s a good idea to look at bringing your own bags along with you when shopping, that way you can buy fresh, unwrapped products and cut down on carrier bags.
Avoid using foil or cling film at home, and instead store food in washable containers with lids. If something is spilt in the kitchen, try to use sponges, cloths and towels instead of paper towels, as these are perfectly sanitary alternatives that don’t produce waste. Additionally, reuse packaging such as glass jars, cans and bottles so that they don’t immediately end up in the bin.
CONSIDER BUYING LOCALLY
You may have heard of the term ‘food miles’, in essence what this refers to is the amount of distance that food has to travel to end up on our shelves. This has become more of a problem in recent years, as more and more people demand products that may not be in season. Yes it’s nice to have strawberries all year round, but let’s be honest, those shipped all the way from Spain are rarely as nice as those grown locally during the proper time of year.
This reliance on out-of-season goods is making people more and more disassociated with growing seasons, and more transit equates to more pollution. Therefore, wherever possible, buy locally from farmer’s markets and grocers that grow right here in the UK, and learn to cut down on foods that require importing.
DO IT YOURSELF
There are lots of things you can do to get stuck in around the kitchen that not only cut out waste, but also stop the reliance on packaging and chemicals. For example, you can do a lot more cooking in order to cut out pre-packaged foods; you could also cook more than one meal at a time (reducing energy expenditure at the same time) and then simply freeze it.
Cleaning the kitchen doesn’t have to involve a series of chemicals (each with their own bottle or container), vinegar and baking soda will tackle cleaning the oven or the most stubborn of dried-on spillages, while a bucket of warm water and washing-up liquid will adequately deal with everything else
Finally, think of all the money you could save (not to mention all the plastic bottles that accumulate) by using a water pitcher fitting with a filter instead of buying water in bottles.
USE YOUR APPLIANCES PROPERLY
Did you know that you shouldn’t feel guilty about using the dishwasher? It actually uses approximately 35% less water than hand washing all of your dishes. There’s no need to prewash plates and such either, as modern dishwashers do a great job, and this cuts down water usage considerably. Just be sure to only use it with a full load, and see if your dishwasher has an ‘economy’ setting, as this is designed to save water and energy.
When it comes to the oven, we’ve already mentioned that it’s a good idea to cook more than one meal at the same time to reduce energy, but there are a few more points to consider. Be sure that when using the hob the pot adequately covers the ring, for example, a 6-inch pot used on a 8-inch burner will waste more than 40% of the heat being produced. And choosing to use the microwave instead of the oven can reduce cooking energy by as much as 80%.
Another important thing to think about is the kind of appliances that you buy. It’s a safe bet to assume that in kitchens all across the country there are countless toastie machines and ice cream makers that have been used once, and are now busy collecting dust, possibly to never to see the light of day again.
MAKE IT LAST
Whenever possible, it’s a wise idea to buy high quality appliances and kitchen tools. While they are admittedly a far more expensive choice, they are built to last. An expensive, high quality appliance will, in most cases, last anywhere up to 25 years, whereas replacing a cheaper model every 5 years will cost you much more in the long run. Remember to buy energy efficient models of appliances when possible.
THINK ‘RECYCLE’ WHEN REMODELLING
There comes a time when the kitchen itself needs sprucing up, or replacing entirely. Of course, making the old kitchen work for you is by far the greenest option, but if you are in the market for a new kitchen, there are things you can do to keep it green. Have a look at reusing old kitchen fittings, flooring, panels and cabinets, as these are often very robust and have stood the test of time.
If reclaimed items aren’t an option, then there are plenty of green options for new materials. For example, there are countertops made from everything from recycled paper and cork, to even yoghurt pots and bamboo, just be sure to do some research first to find out which has the least environmental impact.
See, it’s a simple as that! Going green at home doesn’t need to be a chore, as there is plenty of room to get creative and have some fun. Send us a tweet @HIPPOBAG with your own top tips and advice for going green in the kitchen.