I’ve previously had a guest article about how to build a green kitchen. But what about behavior and practices we can adopt to help the environment regardless of how a kitchen is constructed? Don’t fret if you cannot remodel your entire kitchen to make it environmentally friendly. You can always start one little step at a time.
Americans generate over 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. Although a significant percentage of greenhouses gases come from vehicle use, energy consumption in the kitchen is also a major culprit–especially in the way we cook food and wash our dishes. It is therefore imperative that we make our kitchens as eco friendly as possible.
Here are three great ways to have a greener kitchen without spending a dime for remodeling.
1) Watch your water use. The typical kitchen wastes tons of water. This leads to the destruction of delicate aquatic ecosystems.
If you are washing fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, or other items, turn off the water as soon as you are done. If you need to interrupt the washing to get something else, turn off the water until you return.
For the dishwasher, only run it when it is completely full, and keep rinsing of dishes in the sink to a minimum prior to putting them in the dishwasher. Use the machine’s water-saving features if you are able to get satisfactory results from them.
2) Watch your energy use. While you’re washing those dishes, use the coldest water you can stand if you’re using the sink. Avoid using the water-heating option in your dishwasher if you can–it shouldn’t be necessary if you keep your hot water heater set to 120 degrees.
Turn off all the lights in the kitchen when you’re not using them–most kitchens are energy hogs with their many spotlights, under-counter lighting, and so on. If you can, install some kind of fluorescent light you can keep on in the evening that will save energy while keeping you from stumbling around in darkness when you grab a snack in the fridge.
While on the topic of the refrigerator, keep it shut and keep it at the highest settings that will keep your food cold. Make sure it is not too close to a source of heat like an oven, radiator or heat vent, which will make the appliance work harder. The refrigerator is the most energy-intensive appliance in the house, so every little bit helps.
3) Compost! The typical kitchen generates a huge amount of scraps. If you have any kind of outdoor or container garden, your plants would love nutrient-rich compost added to their soil. Why not give it to them?
Print out a list of things you can compost. Buy yourself a good composter–or if we’re sticking with not spending a dime then just use a plain old garbage can you probably have lying around the house (you may want to poke some holes in the bottom and sides). Put it in a sunny corner of your yard. Put a pail under your kitchen sink to gather scraps on a daily basis, then move it out to your composter. Don’t forget to add lots of “brown” matter like leaves, paper and cardboard to balance the “green” stuff coming from your kitchen. That’s it–in any time from three months to a year you’ll have great compost!
So there you have it–three great ways to help the environment without remodeling your kitchen. What are you waiting for? Make your kitchen green!