9 Steps to a Greener Kitchen

9 Steps to a Greener Kitchen

Did you know that your kitchen is one of the biggest drains on your home's energy bills? With sinks, dish washers, refrigerators and all kinds of electric appliances, and let's not forget about the non-recyclable food packaging, it's no wonder that learning how to "greenify" kitchens has become so important. Protect your wallet and your planet by following these ten easy steps to making your kitchen green.

Even if you can only manage to implement a few of these steps, your kitchen and the planet will be more environmentally friendly and less wasteful! You'll be taking part in making sure our planet is livable for many generations to come.

Step 1: Cut back on red meat

When cattle belch, methane gas is released, which traps 23% more heat into the Earth's atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Livestock manure is also the source of two-thirds of man-made nitrous oxide, which traps  300% percent more heat than carbon dioxide. Raising and eating livestock is responsible for more greenhouse emissions than transportation!

Try cutting back on the amount of red meat you and your family consume.  Instead of cooking 10 ounce steaks for each family member, use one steak and chop it up for a stir-fry. If you're feeling adventurous, try going vegetarian a few days a week.

Step 2: Keep that door closed

Standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open, trying to decide what to grab, has become a pastime - and it also wastes lots of energy! When the door is open, the energy quickly escapes, which means your fridge must work harder to maintain the right temperature.

Also, if you've had your refrigerator for many years, test the door seal. Close a dollar bill inside the door.  If you can pull out that dollar bill easily, chances are your fridge is leaking cold air.  Repairing a seal is not usually a problem, although you may consider purchasing a more energy-efficient fridge if it's been around for awhile.

Step 3: Wash dishes the green way

Don't run the dish washer every night, unless it is filled to capacity. If your dishwasher has an "economy" cycle, test it out. 

It has been estimated that using a dishwasher uses about 37% less energy than washing dishes by hand.  This only holds true if you let the faucet run continually as you hand wash. If you don't have a dishwasher, fill one side of your sink up with soapy water and other other side with clean water to rinse the dishes. If you have only one large area in your sink, you can purchase a plastic tub to fill up with soapy water for very little money.

Step 4: Use energy-saving appliances

If you've already purchased a new refrigerator, oven or range relatively recently, this is probably not a good option for you.  If you are in the market for a new appliance, however, try and purchase an energy-saving model, usually marked with the Energy Star marking.  Energy Star appliances can save as much as 50% percent of your energy and water usage.

Click here to see rankings and reviews for eco-friendly appliances.

Step 5: Make use of microwaves, toaster ovens and slow cookers

Microwave ovens use about 50% less energy than conventional ovens.  They are also much cooler options once summer hits, which means your home will use less air conditioning.  Slow cookers have been found to use about 30% less energy.  If you have a larger family, then you will probably need the oven, but be sure to preheat the oven only for the minimum amount of time. 

Step 6: Cook with the lid on

When you are using the stove top, use a lid to cover your food to keep energy from being wasted. Cooking without lids can use up to three times more energy. Another perk to using a lid is that your food will cook more quickly.

Step 7: Unplug appliances that are not in use

Appliances that are turned off but plugged in still use energy - this is called vampire energy. Unplug all appliances that aren't in use such as toasters, blenders, televisions and other appliances and you can save a couple hundred dollars a year!  If you're not looking forward to plugging and unplugging the most-used appliances all day long, you can purchase a $10 surge strip that will allow you to plug in many appliances.  The power strip has one button that controls everything plugged into it.

Step 8: Eat local and eat organic

Eating organic food is not only healthy for the environment, but healthy for you too! While pesticides were developed for a good reason, their cost may outweigh their benefit. Eating foods free of pesticides or at least very low in pesticides helps keep chemicals running off into our rivers and oceans.

When you buy locally grown food, you are helping the environment by saving on the amount of fuel used or carbon dioxide being released into the environment through transportation. Besides, eating organic, locally grown foods tastes fresher! If you don't want to spend money buying all organic foods, pick a few important items such as eggs, milk, or fruits where the skin is ingested.

Step 9: Recycle

Don't throw out anything that can be reused.  If you use Ziploc bags, wash them out and reuse them.  If you bring home leftovers from a restaurant in a plastic container, wash it and reuse it! Imagine the money you'll save on everyday items when you start recycling.

Research how you should recycle in your town.  What do the recyclers accept? How should it be sorted? Do you need special bins? Does the recycling company pickup on a different day than the trash? These are all things you should know so that you can make the most out of your garbage!


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