Going green in the kitchen doesn’t just benefit the environment. It also keeps money in your pocket and helps you stick to a healthier, home-cooked diet. Follow these tips to choose, cook and prepare food in a more environmentally friendly way.
Fill the oven every time you cook
You’re paying to heat the oven up, so why not get the most out of it? Toss an extra batch of muffins or loaf of bread in the oven while you’re roasting chicken for dinner. Bake some potatoes for the next day’s lunch, too. Try to do all of your baking for several days at one time, rather than turning the oven on and off several times.
Eat vegetarian dinners more often
Meat takes a lot more water and energy to produce than plant products. Think about it — a cow eats a lot of grain before it is ready for slaughter. By eating vegetarian meals more often, you contribute to a global effort to reduce land and energy use for meat production. Beans and rice, pasta dishes, and vegetarian stir fries are all tasty vegetarian options that you can make one hundred different ways so they never become boring.
Replace your chemical cleaners with vinegar and baking soda
Conventional cleaners release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, both when they are produced and when you use them. Almost all cleaners can be replaced by either vinegar, baking soda or a mixture of both. Use vinegar and water to clean your hard surfaces, and a paste made from baking soda and water for heavy duty scrubbing.
Choose reusable towels
Every time you wipe up a spill or dry your hands on a paper towel, you are wasting valuable trees. Choose reusable towels instead, designating one color of towel for hands, another for drying dishes and another for general cleaning. Wash them often to prevent the spread of germs.
Buy food from local sources as often as possible
A lot of valuable fossil fuels are wasted when food is driven across the county. Avoid contributing to this less-than-green practice by purchasing as many foods as possible from local farms and farmers markets. As an added bonus, locally grown foods are often more nutritionally dense because they are picked closer to the peak of ripeness.
Start a compost heap
Instead of tossing food scraps out with the general trash, collect them in a compost bin in your back yard. Composting can be as simple as you make it. Tossing your food scraps and lawn clippings in a barrel and turning them over every couple of days is a good place to start.
Plant your own garden
Use your compost to provide nourishment to the vegetables you plant in your own back yard. Tomatoes, spinach, peas and beans are all incredibly easy to grow and harvest, and they’re good for you, too. Even if you live in an apartment, you can plant some tomatoes, herbs and lettuce in planting boxes or pots on your balcony. Every little bit helps cut your grocery bill and reduce the amount of food that’s shipped in diesel trucks.
Going green is a process that takes time
The kitchen is the easiest place to start, since you put a lot of time and energy into cooking and eating. If you start by adopting the small changes described above, you’ll reduce your impact on the environment and be well on your way towards a greener lifestyle.
The author of this post, Craig, expresses an interest in cooking, tech and phone apps. He can be found on Twitter most days, and will gladly answer any questions.