8 Tips to Green your Kitchen and Cooking
Having a green kitchen will not only save you energy and money, but it will also contribute to the health of your family. Using energy-efficient appliances, ridding your kitchen of toxins and developing green cooking habits will all contribute to a greener kitchen.
✔ Practice energy-efficient cooking methods – The easiest way to save energy and money in the kitchen is to follow cooking tips that help you use your stove and cookware more efficiently. Below are some of the most common tips for efficient cooking:
- Stovetop cooking – When cooking on the stovetop, be sure to match the pot size to the burner size and cover pots and pans during cooking to keep the heat in. When buying pots and pans, try to find flat-bottomed cookware made from highly conductive materials such as copper or cast iron.
- Cooking in the oven – In general, ovens are not the most efficient way to cook. If using a microwave is an option, use it. It is far more efficient. When using your oven, be sure not to ‘over’ preheat and try to keep the door shut as much as possible. Baking with ceramic, glass, or cast iron is preferable to other materials because they retain more heat.
- Microwave ovens – Microwave ovens are a highly efficient means of heating and cooking food. Microwaves use two-thirds less energy than an oven. If possible, use a microwave instead of an oven.
- Pressure cookers – Pressure cookers are highly efficient. They reduce cooking times because they cook foods at higher temperatures and can reduce energy consumption by as much as 50 to 75 percent.
✔ Choose a gas stove over an electric – Gas stoves use less energy than electric stoves because the fuel (gas) is delivered directly to the home and used directly for cooking. In addition, gas stoves generally have lower operating costs than electric stoves.
✔ Choose an oven with a self-cleaning option – Ovens with the self-cleaning option, whether it is gas or electric, will have higher levels of insulation. More insulation will result in more efficient cooking.
✔ Remove toxic chemicals from your kitchen – The typical kitchen stores more toxic chemicals than any other room in the house (with the possible exception being the garage). Check under your kitchen sink for any items that have poison, danger, caution or warning. Consider either disposing of these items (and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives) or moving them to a location far away from your food.
✔ Use natural, nontoxic cleaning products in your kitchen – Some of the strongest and most toxic household chemicals in the home can be found in kitchen cleaning products. Two examples include oven cleaner and countertop cleaners. Dishwashing liquids and dishwasher detergents also can contain chemicals that are detrimental to water quality in lakes and rivers. Many eco-friendly alternatives have become available over that past several years.
✔ Avoid Teflon coated cookware – The perfluorochemicals used in Teflon is a toxic substance and should be avoided. It has been linked to female infertility and flu-like symptoms in people when heated in an enclosed area. Scratched Teflon pans are categorized as a potential health hazard. Teflon coated cookware is also nearly impossible to recycle.
✔ Recycle or reuse old pots and pans – Donate your old pots and pans to a charity when you choose to replace them. There are many organizations that will accept old cookware. Do a quick internet search to find an organization in your area. This will extend their useful life and keep them out of landfills.
✔ Use the dishwasher instead of hand washing – According to a report published by the University of Bonn, a dishwasher uses only half the energy, one-sixth of the water, and less soap than washing dishes by hand.20 Another report from the California Energy Commission states that dishwashers use, on average, 37% less water than hand washing. If, however, you fill up one sink with wash water and one with rinse water (versus letting the water run), then you’ll use half the water a regular dishwasher uses.