One of the newest modern kitchen design trends is an eco-friendly and sustainable kitchen for you and your loved ones. Kitchens are one of the most used rooms in the house, producing the most household waste. This makes it the perfect place to optimize for sustainable living! In this article, we’ll be diving into ten ways to reduce waste and minimize your ecological footprint!
1. Buy Local Ingredients & Produce
Buying locally grown ingredients and produce is a no-brainer! Because local ingredients are grown in much smaller harvests than popular crops, they are not treated with herbicides and pesticides, which have a detrimental effect on the environment. The food that makes it to the grocery store shelves has been driven miles and miles away from its source, subsequently requiring trucks to deliver it to us. As a result, the carbon emissions released by trucks are ever-growing. Buying local will cut out the middleman between farm and table!
2. Use Eco-Friendly Kitchen Cleaners
The chemicals found in some of your most common kitchen and bathroom cleaning products can make your stomach churn… Excessive exposure to these chemicals can cause devastating effects on our health, not to mention the run-off from these chemicals has detrimental effects on the ecosystem, as well. Thankfully, it is pretty easy to make your own effective cleaning products. All you need to do is make a solution of vinegar, water, baking soda, and lemon essential oil (for a natural fragrance!) Vinegar is a great disinfectant while baking soda can agitate any caked-on grease.
3. Purchase High-Quality Cookware & Utensils
Investing in high-quality cookware and utensils will effectively prolong the life of your kitchenware. Many high-quality kitchen products elect to use sustainable materials such as:
These products, when responsibly manufactured, can outlive your entire kitchen and everything in it. Depending on the type of plastic product, it can take upwards of hundreds of years for it to biodegrade, whereas, many of these materials can be recycled and reused for different purposes. One kitchen-must-have product is a high-quality cast iron pan! They are better to cook with and deposit iron minerals as you cook, which are essential nutrients to incorporate into your diet.
4. Install Energy-Efficient Appliances
Did you know using a dishwasher uses less water than handwashing? Investing in energy-efficient appliances can save you time, money, and the environment! Stay simple and avoid fancy appliances, as they tend to use up more energy than necessary. Look for “Energy-Star” logos on your appliances, as that means that appliance has passed strict environmental regulations set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Pro Tip: For refrigerators, choose smaller models, as this can help you prevent overstuffing your fridge with food that’ll go bad before you have a chance to eat it!
5. Compost Your Food Scraps
Many cities offer compost programs that will pick up your food scraps and paper waste! Check in with your local composting collection center to see if they service your area. Compost serves as a great, natural fertilizers for local farmers, and prevents food waste from accruing in landfills. This makes sure each scrap of food is accounted for!
6. Use Your Food Scraps in Other Meals!
Using your food scraps in other meals isn’t as gross as you’d think. There are plenty of skins, stems, shells, and leftovers that can be repurposed in other meals and there are plenty of scrappy cooking recipes and cookbooks out there for you to experiment with. For example, save your potato skins and pop them into the oven at 400 degrees for one hour and BOOM – you have just make your own potato tips sans the preservatives!
7. Use Reusable Totes & Produce Bags
This is one is a no-brainer. With many cities enforcing a 10 cent fee per plastic bag, its more of an incentive to switch to reusable bags. One reusable bag can replace anywhere from 100-700 plastic bags every year, depending on how much you would use on average. Additionally, many fruits and vegetables comes with their own natural wrapping (you do NOT need to put your bananas in a plastic bag). Make sure you thoroughly clean them before you eat them or purchase a reusable produce bag, and you’re good to go!
8. Recycle & Upcycle Whatever You Can
Whatever waste you can’t avoid, make sure to properly dispose of. Only a small percentage of paper, plastic, and glass products can be effectively recycled. It’s more important to minimize the amount of these materials that you use. However, if you can’t get around it, make sure you are recycling correctly. Check the recycling regulations your city has set up to make sure you can properly dispose of recyclable materials.
9. Swap Paper Towels for Cotton Cloths
Paper towels create a lot of waste, and there are many reusable options available. The most sustainable option is to opt for cotton cloths. Many zero waste brands sell cotton cloths in a roll, which can effectively replace your paper towel roll. Most people will reach for a microfiber towel, but unfortunately, they are more harmful to the environment than paper products due to the amount of plastic they contain. Scraps cut from an old, worn cotton tee work just fine!
10. Prepare Your Own Meals… From Scratch
Avoiding fast food is great for our health and our wallets, as well as the environment. Many of the items used to package your fast meal are not recyclable and are made of single-use plastics that are contributing to a massive vortex of plastic debris currently accumulating in the Great Pacific ocean. Prepackaged and frozen meals are just as harmful, as their packaging is not reusable. Aim to purchase food free of packaging whenever possible.
Conclusion – 10 Ways to Make Your Kitchen More Eco-Friendly & Sustainable
There is only so much you can do as one person when it comes to improving your ecological footprint. We have to come together as a community to make an ever-lasting impact. While you implement these small changes to your lifestyle, get your friends and family involved too, but most importantly, vote for politicians and representatives that swear to take action to prevent further damage to the earth. Sign petitions and protest for large corporations to take a pledge to be more sustainable and ethical.