If you’re trying to add a little more green to your lifestyle, then think about going room by room. Tackle each space in your home and, step by step, you’ll become more environmentally conscious. A good place to start is the kitchen, which is where most people consume the most products and energy. Here are some tips to get you started on your earth-friendly road.
Get inside the box
If you don’t have a green bin in your kitchen yet, get one. It is one of the easiest and best ways to go green. Keep the bin under your sink and be vigilant when it comes to waste disposal. You’ll reduce the number of garbage bags you use each week, plus give a helping hand to overflowing landfills. Or, if you are really dedicated, keep and compost your green waste.
To save energy (and time) in the kitchen, create larger meals that will leave tasty leftovers. Or, create large batches of soups and stews that can be frozen. Rather than using the stove, oven, and dishwasher several times, you reduce your energy consumption by cooking in bulk. Plus, making your own frozen meals means you don’t have to purchase them—saving on all that nasty packaging that often comes with frozen entrees. However, if you make extra, be sure to eat it! There is no sense in cooking extra food only to have it end up in the trash.
Buy the good stuff
Invest in good cooking and baking tools. While dollar-store items (like wooden spoons, spatulas, and serving spoons) are cheaper, they often don’t last as long as pricier items and may not be made with the most environmentally friendly materials. Be cautious of plastic utensils when cooking; the cheaper ones may melt during food prep, leaving chemicals in your food. Opt for high-quality stainless steel utensils—they are safer and you won’t have to replace them as often. Plastic storage containers may also transmit chemicals to your food. Glass containers are another option and you can use them for cooking as well as food storage.
Ditch the paper
Yes, sometimes it is easier to go with paper plates than your everyday dinnerware, but consider the waste, not to mention the cost. Use reusable plates and cutlery, even if you’re hosting a large number of people. The same goes for paper towels, napkins, and disposable dishrags. Use reusable cloth whenever possible.
Clean with green
Take a look at your cleaning products. How green are they? You can make a big difference just by purchasing friendlier cleaners, including dish soap, all-purpose cleaners, dishwashing detergent, and disinfectants. Sure, they can be a little more expensive, but the difference is usually about a dollar per item. Try looking for cleaners that come in refillable bottles or ones that come in concentrate, and require added water only (take a look at iQ cleaning products, for example).
Be energy conscious
While investing in energy-saving appliances is a good idea, you can also reduce your energy consumption with your current appliances. Try these tips:
Skip the first couple of cycles on your dishwasher (hot cycle, pre-rinse) and go straight to the cleaning cycle. Only run the dishwasher when it is full. If you do dishes by hand, fill the sink with water, rather than letting it run during cleaning.
For smaller meals, use your toaster oven, microwave, or convection oven, rather than your regular oven or stovetop. This works particularly well during the summer months by not heating up your home.
Barbecue year-round. Canadians are used to cold weather. Throw your coat on and use the grill.
Limit your lighting usage. Most kitchens have ceiling lights, over-the-counter lights, stove lighting, and more. Only use what is necessary, rather than leaving each light on.
Use low-flow faucets or aerators in the kitchen sink.