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How to Create an Eco-friendly Kitchen

Kitchens are often overlooked when we adjust our homes to be as energy efficient and ‘green’ as possible. After all, how can we clean dishes and cook in a more eco-friendly way? Well, as a matter of fact, kitchens are one of many contributors toward our nation’s environmental overload. Many initiatives have already been launched to save the environment, such as re-usable plastic bags for disposing of waste, however, when it comes to your kitchen’s efficiency, energy saving and waste prevention, we can do a lot more.

If you are looking to go beyond just the use of a recycling bin for your kitchen waste, here are 5 great ways you can transform your kitchen into an eco-friendly haven.

Washing the Dishes

This is perhaps the most simple of recommendations, but one of the most important. It is said that washing dishes in your dishwasher saves 37% more water than washing them with the tap running. However, not every home owner has a dishwasher to hand. If you don’t own a dishwasher, it is recommended to fill half of your sink with soapy water, and the other half with a small amount of rinse water. This method decreases the amount of water used, as you have dedicated sections for washing and rinsing instead of just running the tap every time you wish to rinse your plate.

 

If you do happen to have a dishwasher, be sensible. By this we mean don’t run half loads once or twice a day, as this is a waste of energy, as well as a waste of money spent on tablets and electricity. Make sure your dishwasher is 90% full before beginning a cycle. Natural air drying using old fashioned drainers is also the most eco-friendly method of drying your dishes, instead of the emerging heated air selection on dishwashers.

Gas Stove Vs Electric

When it comes to choosing which kind of cooker you install in your kitchen, the choice can be difficult from an eco-friendly perspective. On the one hand, you have a gas cooker which naturally uses fossil fuels, and on the other you have electricity, the vast majority of which comes from burning power plants. Neither one really strikes us as eco-friendly. You can purchase eco-friendly electric cookers, which tend to heat instantly by transferring electromagnetic energy to the pan. However, due to still being in the introductory stages, they are only compatible with a certain element of pan.

It is a tough choice between the two, and electric stoves do tend to be the healthiest option due to the decrease in NO2 and CO in the house. However, the stove you should be choosing is the one that you feel most comfortable with and will stick with for at least a decade, consequently saving on waste and material disposal.

Cooking Smart

It is said that using small toaster ovens, small conventional ovens, microwaves or even slow cookers can reduce the amount of energy wasted. In fact, according to the Progress Energy Company, these methods are said to use around 30% less energy than the traditional oven.

A lot of us tend to whack on the oven, wait for it to heat up, then put pre-made meals into them, and likewise use this method to reheat previously cooked meals or leftovers. Using a microwave instead is said to use 50% less energy. As well as this, a microwave releases less heat into the household, meaning less usage of extractor fans and air conditioning, meaning less electricity consumption and cost.

When using the stove, try and make sure you are cooking as compactly as possible. By this, we mean use relative sized pans to the amount of food you need to cook. Having too much space within a pan creates wasted energy. Try match the pan size to the stove size; again this produces less wasted energy. As well as this, not having a lid on top of a pan wastes around 3 times more energy than the opposite, due to the release of heat through steam. Make sure you are cooking with lids over your pans, you may also find that your food cooks quicker - bonus!

Eat Fresh and Buy Local

One of the best possible ways to cut out unnecessary pollution to the environment is by eating fresh. By buying pre-made food in plastic packaging, you are creating unnecessary waste, as well as not really knowing exactly what is in your food. By buying fresh you are essentially cutting out the process of cooking the pre-made frozen food, packaging it, and then cooking it again. It is not only more eco-friendly to buy fresh, but it also goes a long way to improving your health.

As well as buying fresh, you should also try your best to buy local. Think about when you eat fresh strawberries in the heart of winter, they most definitely didn’t grow in English weather. This means that they have been sourced from another country, ultimately using a copious amount of fuel to get to your home. It may mean eating more seasonally, but it goes a long way to save the environment. As well as this, there are often a large amount of pesticides and chemicals sprayed on products such as these to keep them fresh for the journey to England. Therefore, by only buying local, you are limiting the amount of unnecessary chemicals entering your body.

Plan Your Food to Save Unnecessary Trips to the Shop

What a lot of people don’t realise is that by buying a little, frequently, means more trips to the shop, resulting in more fuel used as well as more money out of your pocket. It is important that you buy in bulk and plan what you will need for the week, fortnight or even month. As well as this, make sure you fully use every bit of food in your cupboards before doing another shop. We all have products in our cupboards that have been there for years. What we don’t take into account, however, is that these products are money from our pocket. By being creative with your ingredients and substituting certain ingredients in to meals, you will not only save money, but also save time shopping - all working towards helping the environment.

So there you have it; 5 easy methods you should be incorporating in your kitchen to save time, money and pollution. One more thing - we all at some point in the week stare aimlessly into our fridges, not actually knowing what we are looking for. Try not to do this. Every time you open the fridge the light is using unnecessary energy and bringing the temperature down. Try to make sure you know exactly what you are going into the fridge for and make sure it is fully closed at all times.