Updated 18 September 2013

30 ways to green your kitchen

Here are 30 ways you can consider the earth by changing the way you run your kitchen from cooking to food preparation and everything in between.

Make energy saving a lifestyle habit, no matter how small the saving is, the planet needs it. Here are 30 ways you can consider the earth by changing the way you run your kitchen from cooking to food preparation and everything in between. 

Eat more green: think about sustainability - where does your food come from and what processes are involved from the origin to your plate. Eat more organic fruit, vegetables and grains. Organic means no pesticides or dangerous chemicals polluting our water streams and damaging the soil, creatures and ourselves.

Eat less meat: cows, pigs, sheep and poultry are among the world's greatest environmental threats, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The livestock industry is degrading land, contributing to the greenhouse effect, polluting water resources, and destroying biodiversity.

Choose veldt-fed: just when you were thinking, boo hoo no biltong, there is a more favourable option, choose meat from veldt-fed animals, make sure produce is free from growth hormones, feedlots, pesticides and antibiotics.

Cook with cast iron: heavy cast iron pots retain so much heat once they are hot you can switch off the power and leave food to cook in the pre generated heat. They also last a lifetime so it’s a once-off purchase. A pressure cooker is another energy saving option.

Double up: use stacking pots where one fits on top of the other or steam baskets so you can layer the food you cook.  Or cook two veg in the same pot, you can always use a slotted spoon to remove one if it cooks faster or add the second veg in relay.

Use gas: gas heats up immediately and switches off instantly. If it is possible to find natural gas sources rather than coal generated, opt for the natural.

Put a lid on it: let the lid retain the heat. When simmering, boiling or even stir frying keep the lid on. You can even place a heavy weight on the lid to seal heat in further. Food like rice can cook in sealed heat, switch off the power when half cooked and trapped heat will finish the job. Glass top lids resist the temptation to lift the lid.

One pot cooking: dishes like stews, soups, stir-fry meals and curries only need one pot. This means one power source and less washing up. The same goes for dishes, aim to prepare and serve in the same bowl. You can even serve from your pan or pot if you have a good looking brand. Just wipe around the rims and tops to make it presentable.

Bake bountifully: if you have a big oven, double up on dishes by cooking two or three at the same time. If different temperatures are needed, do them one immediately after the other to save on warm up time.

Go raw: cut out conversations about power saving and pots by going raw. This has become a very popular health choice, people on raw diets swear by increased energy levels and a sense of wellbeing.

Keep it closed: gazing into the fridge aimlessly means cold air is lost and more energy is needed to bring the temperature to what it was. Open the door to get what you want and close it again. The same goes for the oven, when you open the oven door heat escapes.

Kettle quantity: fill the kettle with only as much water as you need. Boiling a whole kettle full is wasted if you are making one cup of tea. Alternatively boil up a whole kettle and store boiled water in a flask for the next cup.

Cut it thin: food cut thinner, cooks quicker. Make potato chips thinner, slice veg into smaller parts, even meat cuts can be sliced or pounded into thinner versions.

Minimise waste: plan your meals so you don’t end up throwing half your fridge contents away. Buy what you know you will eat. It helps to go grocery shopping when you are not hungry, you will buy more reasonably than if you are ravenous.

Be an ecotarian: from vegetarian we have developed all manner of variations, a pescatarian who eats fish, a flexitarian who mostly eats a plant-based diet but will eat chicken, fish or meat occasionally. An ecotarian makes food choices based on environmental impact (organic and mostly plant-based, in season, low mileage, unpackaged, minimal carbon footprint food).

Eat it all: rather than peeling your fruit and veggies and wasting valuable fibre, scrub the outside with a veggie brush and eat the whole lot. Be strictly organic if you do this you don’t want to end up eating residual pesticides.

Burn some kilojoules: ditch electrical appliances in favour of manpower. Whipping cream, beating eggs and mixing batter by hand will save power and burn kilojoules at the same time.

Re-use dish towels: rather than the paper variety, use fabric dish towels you can re-use. If you must use paper towels make sure they are unbleached. The same goes for serviettes.

Wash it up: if you save up your dishes for a full load, dishwashers are more energy efficient than using the sink. Make sure you choose a green model that will last.

Cook fresh: avoid excess packaging and processing by cooking from fresh produce – it’s healthier as well.

Grow you own: edible gardens are in. Instead of planting shrubs, plant things like broccoli, carrots and green peppers. This eliminates packaging, transport and a host of processing. You can also do herb boxes and grow sprouts in the kitchen.

Avoid bottled water: use a refill bottle and put a filter on your tap.

Remember the bags: take your own bags to the grocery store instead of accumulating piles of plastic bags. Keep them in your car in case you shop impulsively. If they do accumulate, drop some off at your nearest café to reuse.

Minimise shopping trips: buy in bulk so you don’t waste fuel on endless trips.

Buy in-season food: local and in-season food means fewer food miles.

Keep it clean: you will be shocked if you knew what goes into regular chemical cleaning agents. Use natural non-toxic, biodegradable, plant-based detergents.

Make your own: vinegar and baking soda make a wonderful toxin free cleaning alternative.

Green remodelling: if redoing your kitchen, choose green building materials like cork, bamboo or sustainable wood.

Go solar: cook with an insulated solar oven or hotbox. The sun heats up the inside of the box, which has a reflective surface that concentrates solar energy. Hotboxes are said to create delicious intense flavours from slow, sun powered cooking.

Save it: wrap leftovers in biodegradable plastic wrap or bags. They may look just like plastic but have the remarkable ability of being completely biodegradable.

(Article written by Robyn Wilkinson for Wellness Warehouse)

(Photo of woman chopping vegetables from Shutterstock)

- (Health24, September 2012)

Read more:

10 steps to sustainable living
Is organic food better?


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