If you want to be more sustainable at home then the kitchen is a great place to start. It’s where we consume a lot of energy and create a lot of waste.
In this blog post you will find your ultimate guide of tips and advice for an eco-friendly and healthy kitchen.
Tips to be more eco-friendly with food in the kitchen
All photos – Canva
· Reduce food waste
Food waste is a big problem as creating food uses a lot of resources such as land, water and energy, as well as emitting toxic greenhouse gases. If this food ends up in the bin then we are causing all this pollution for no reason at all. Of course there are also the moral issues surrounding food waste as so many people are starving in the world.
Did you know one person wastes around 208kg of edible food each year?
Shocking isn’t it.
Global food waste reaches around 1.3 billion tonnes per year!
A lot of this food waste is caused by the food producers themselves from producing too much food or supermarkets rejecting food purely because it doesn’t ‘look good enough’. This attitude needs to stop and we need to prevent so much food waste going forward.
We can start to tackle our own food waste at home by meal planning, freezing overripe fruit and vegetables, saving leftovers, cooking smaller portions, buying only what we need instead of shopping spontaneously and eating foods with the soonest best before dates first. By being a little more organised in our kitchens and making more conscious meal decisions we can reduce the amount of food that is wasted.
Even if you manage to totally prevent edible food waste in your kitchen, there are still some parts of food that will be thrown away such as peelings, rinds, stones, tea bags, coffee beans and so on. It’s probably quite impossible to create no food waste whatsoever.
This food waste does not have to be ‘wasted’ as it can be used for home composting. Simply throw your food waste into your home compost bin to create your own homemade compost to grow your own fruits and vegetables.
If you don’t have a garden or don’t need compost at home, then make use of your local council’s food recycling scheme. They will collect your food waste bins from the roadside to turn the food into soil improver, fertiliser or even electricity that can be fed back into the national grid.
· Go organic
There are lots of health reasons to choose organic food, but it’s also much better for the environment. Non-organic produce is sprayed with chemical pesticides and uses chemical fertilizer to grow which is toxic to the environment. These chemicals don’t just get onto the food, but they end up in the soils, are washed off into rivers polluting our water supplies and they are toxic to wildlife.
Industrial agriculture is also more damaging to plants, flowers and wildlife, whereas organic farmers encourage biodiversity. If you want to be more eco-friendly with your food choices then go organic.
How to be more energy-efficient in the kitchen
· Conserve energy
Be more mindful with your energy consumption to make sure you are not wasting energy in the kitchen. For example, only boil the kettle with the amount of water you need instead of a full kettle of water each time. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Let cooked food cool down before freezing or refrigerating. Don’t use excess water when boiling food. There are a few tips to get you started!
· Save water
If you wash up by hand then use a washing up bowl as this uses less water than washing up under a running tap. The same goes for washing fruits or vegetables.
Cook one-pot meals as they use less utensils and pots which means less washing up and less water needed. Some meal ideas are soup, vegan casserole, stew, pasta, stir-fry and noodles.
Steam vegetables instead of boiling. This helps them to retain their nutrients, but you also use a lot less water.
· Cook less
Cooking using a gas oven means you are burning fossil fuels every time you make a meal. Instead, experiment more with different salads and raw foods to reduce how much you use your oven for meal prep.
Alternatively, switch to an electric oven that is powered by renewable electric energy instead of fossil fuels.
Ways to reduce single-use plastic in the kitchen
· Order a fruit and vegetable box
Subscribing to a local organic fruit and vegetable box will help the environment in so many ways. The produce is organic which stops so many chemicals polluting the land, sea and air. It also encourages wildlife and bees to thrive as farming methods are non-toxic. You’ll be supporting real local and small farmers instead of huge corporations AND you can reduce plastic too.
Many of the items in fruit and veg boxes comes loose, straight from the farm, without being wrapped in excessive and unnecessary plastic packaging that often can’t be recycled.
· Choose reusable items
There are lots of reusable items you can buy instead of buying single-use plastic throwaway items. For example, there’s no need to buy throwaway plastic straws nowadays as there are so many reusable options available to buy such as stainless steel and bamboo versions.
Buy a refillable coffee cup to save getting coffee on the go and throwing away a cup each day and use a refillable water bottle.
Stop using cling film and use storage containers instead.
· Filter your own water
Although the water from our taps is generally considered safe to drink, it’s still full of questionable contaminants and chemicals used to clean it such as liquified chlorine, fluorosilicic acid, aluminium sulphate, calcium hydroxide and sodium silicofluoride.
This means many of us choose to buy bottled water from the stores as we consider it safer and may just simply prefer the taste. However, it’s much more cost-effective and eco-friendly to invest in a water filter or a water distiller instead of constantly buying water in plastic bottles.
· Go plastic-free
There are lots of people doing this nowadays and plastic-free stores are popping up in town centres where you can take your own refillable containers to stock up on cupboard essentials.
Another way to reduce plastic is to refuse to buy it. If your favourite spread, for example, comes in a plastic bottle or glass jar then choose to buy the glass jar. Vote with your money and the food manufacturers will soon take note and make changes.
Tips to be sustainable when remodelling a kitchen
· Reuse instead of replace
Sometimes the best way to be sustainable when remodelling a kitchen is to look at what you already have and to reuse what you can.
Do those cupboards really need replacing or could you simply paint the doors instead to a colour of your taste? If the worktops are real wood then perhaps they can be sanded down and stained to a more preferable colour?
You can use contact paper to give your worktops a new look. It’s even possible to buy tile paint to change the colour of your kitchen tiles without having to replace them.
· Choose non-toxic paints
Traditional paints contain high quantities of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These are gasses that are given off by paints that contain solvents. They are dangerous for us to breath in and harmful to the environment when paint is produced. Instead you should choose natural and non-toxic paints when redecorating your kitchen.
They’re a little more expensive but they are much better for your health and the planet and should be solvent free, plastic free, toxin free and even odourless.
· Use natural materials
Choose natural and renewable materials that are plentiful in supply. If using wood then check with the supplier about whether it is sustainably sourced wood.
· Opt for a timeless design
Going for the latest trends or crazy bright colours might mean you’ll be bored of your new kitchen quickly and will want to replace again in a few years. Instead choose something that will stand the test of time and won’t need replacing for decades, or even better will last a lifetime.
It’s not very sustainable to keep redecorating and replacing a kitchen, so make your choices wisely.
· Use reclaimed materials
Check out auctions, second-hand stores, Facebook Marketplace and online sites like eBay to see if you can salvage pre-loved items for your kitchen rather than buying new. It’s much better, when possible, to be able to reuse something than to have something new made.
How to make doing laundry more eco-friendly
· Use Eco-eggs instead of detergent
These are egg shaped cases that are refillable with cleaning pellets made from minerals. A pack of pellets can last an entire year depending on how much clothes washing you do and saves toxic detergents from being washed into the environment every day.
· Wait until you have a full load
Wait until you have a full load of laundry before putting on the washing machine or tumble dryer. This will help to save energy, will reduce how much housework you have to do and will also cost you less in energy.
· Use dryer balls
If you have a tumble dryer then invest in some dryer balls that help to reduce the time it takes to dry the clothes. This means your clothes are dried quicker whilst using less energy. The balls absorb some of the heat from the tumble dryer and spread it around.
They also stop you from using fabric softener as they soften the clothes as they bounce around them. I’m sure they also get creases out which prevents ironing too.
There are lots of ways to be more eco-friendly at home and many of them start in the kitchen. Not ready to stop reading yet? Find more eco-friendly tips in this blog post: 15 eco-friendly things I do on a regular basis