By Larraine Roulston :
An eco-friendly kitchen begins with good insulation that includes windows and doors. Along with energy efficient appliances and durable cookware, there are many simple tips that will also help you make your kitchen even greener.
Shopping habits play an important role. Never enter a supermarket when you are hungry! Be sure to make a list so you won’t have to return to the store later. Take along reusable carry-out bags as well as several small bags to hold loose items such as mushrooms. Purchase local and organic foods whenever possible. Choose items from the bulk area to eliminate unnecessary packaging. Avoid vegetables on a Styrofoam tray encased in plastic wrap; however, should you need this produce, discuss the problem with the manager. Eliminate the use of straws, bottled water, paper towels and food packaged in single servings.
Be creative with leftovers. If you purchase a tub of sour cream for a dip, have a plan to use the remainder of it in a recipe. To revitalize wilted herbs or celery, place them in a jar of icy water. Check out the link on how to store vegetables. If you chop veggies and meat into smaller pieces, they will take less time to cook.
While preparing meals, have a container handy to collect vegetable and fruit peelings, eggshells and other kitchen organics for composting. Floor sweepings of crumbs also can be included.
For water conservation, instead of running tap water, use a bowl of water to rinse produce. Adding a tablespoon of vinegar to it and letting the veggies sit for a few minutes will help remove pesticide residue. Keep a jar of drinking water in the fridge to avoid running the tap for cold water. Use leftover tea and cooled water from boiling eggs to water plants. Run your dishwasher with a full load when hydro rates are lower. Save vegetable water for soup stock. Rinse hand washed dishes first in warm water, which not only will keep your wash basin cleaner but also will remove the chill from the plates and cutlery.
A fridge’s cooling system works more efficiently when it is full. If shelves are sparse, place a few jars of water on them. To keep your fridge from working harder, let warm leftovers cool first; likewise, when removing items, return them as quickly as possible. Your fridge door’s seal will be kept more pliable if you periodically rub a little butter on it and work it in with your fingers.
Maximize the use of your oven by planning to bake veggies at the same time as you cook a casserole. If you have ample space on the racks, consider whipping up a batch of cookies. Turn off the oven 5 minutes before the recommended time, as there will be enough heat remaining to finish cooking your meal. Put lids on stovetop pots. A toaster oven, small convection oven and slow cooker use less energy than a regular oven. An electric kettle takes less energy to boil water than the stove does. Pull the plug on small appliances that have glowing lights when not in use.
For kitchen clean-ups, rely on vinegar and baking soda. Recycle by rinsing bottles, and be a good sort by flattening tin cans and cereal boxes.
If you are deciding to upgrade your kitchen, take time to investigate sustainable tiles, countertops, sinks and flooring. At the same time, be sure to salvage what you can for either reuse or recycling.
Larraine authors children’s adventure stories on composting and pollinating at www.castlecompost.com