Do you want to find out ways to make your kitchen more eco-friendly, but don’t know where to start? Luckily, you don’t need to spend a fortune or cut your household waste to zero. Having big goals is grand, but sometimes, minor changes are more than enough to transform your kitchen into a greener space. Starting small can also help you get used to a new lifestyle. After that, it is easier to think about larger sustainable kitchen renovations.
We give you eight essential steps to an eco-friendly kitchen make-over, from which to work your way up towards a more holistic eco-lifestyle.
Eco Kitchen Transformation
The concept of a green kitchen often means different things to different people. In its essence, this trend doesn’t always revolve around replacing absolutely everything with expensive, new furniture and appliances. It’s also a gradual process of thinking about the features of smaller elements such as everyday kitchenware.
The easiest place to start from is the kitchenware you’re already using daily:
- Kitchen cloths and towels instead of paper towels. Swap single-use paper products for reusable cloths and towels. A few of them are enough for when you don’t have time to wash the dirty ones. This can cut down your paper towel consumption by around 80%. Plus, you can use them as pot-holders.
- Reusable food wraps instead of plastic ones. It’s a struggle to wrap leftover food without single-use plastic. One alternative is beeswax paper wraps, as they are easy to use and clean. Generally, wraps made out of bees- or soy wax, tree resin and hemp are breathable, biodegradable and can be reused for up to a year. They don’t work with liquids, but are great for solid food and reducing your plastic bag consumption. You can even make them yourself.
- Reusable mesh bags instead of plastic bags. They are breathable, washable and perfect for storing produce in the fridge. Use them over and over when grocery shopping for fruits and veg.
- Glass jars for food storage. They limit your use of aluminium foil, plastic wraps and ziplock bags. You can take them to the shops, where you can buy produce in bulk. They have a multitude of uses and you can come up with even more. In most cases, glass containers are safe for oven and microwave use. They also protect your food from pests such as mice and rats.
- Reusable beverage containers instead of paper cups. When you’re in a hurry, but you need a morning coffee or tea, a reusable cup is a life-changer for your eco ambitions, budget and safety. It’s a lot less likely to spill than a single-use paper cup.
- Reusable utensil sets for BBQs or picnics. They are reusable, non-toxic and a plastic-free solution to single-use utensils. Long-lasting and reliable, they don’t pollute the environment when thrown away, making them perfect to take on a picnic with friends or family without any worries.
You can bring your reusable mesh bag or glass jar when grocery shopping and buying items in bulk, such as nuts, grains or bread. However, don’t forget to focus on buying locally. Going to the farmers’ market will not only help boost the local economy, but it helps reduce CO2 emissions coming from produce transportation drastically. You can also grow your own fruits and vegetables.
Composting is a natural process of recycling organic matter, such as food leftovers. It speeds the decomposing by providing an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other organisms to do their work. Food composting reduces waste stream, methane emissions from landfills, improves soil health and conserves water. There are many
types of composting. You can decide which one is the most suitable for you. The easiest way is to buy a compost bin or look into ways to DIY it indoors or outdoors.
An additional green habit to build is recycling your trash. This is hard to do if your region doesn’t support a recycling program. However, separate trash collection and disposal contributes to reducing waste that remains in nature and saves resources.
Eco-friendly Kitchen Products
Professionals recommend that you limit the use of harsh chemicals when you’re cleaning your home, not just the kitchen. A lot of the detergents can be quite abrasive, not pet or child-friendly, and very harmful to the environment. Look for special mild cleaning products that are made from recycled plastic and don’t do as much damage.
- Sustainable dish soap. Recently, the general public has become aware of the dangers of pollution going down the drain, coming from microplastics and petroleum-based washing agents getting into waterways. There are a lot of green alternatives to washing soaps out there that are just as effective to get the greasy pans clean.
- Wood-handle scrub alternatives to metal dish scrubbers and sponges with plastic handles. Besides being easier to degrade when thrown away, they’re comfortable to use and assist better with pots and pans that require more hand force to clean.
- Natural cleaning solutions. Soda bicarbonate, vinegar and lemon juice have proven to be effective natural cleaning solutions, that don’t negatively affect the environment. You can also DIY green cleaning products yourself.
Green Kitchen Appliances
Choosing energy-efficient appliances is not only good for the environment, but for your electricity bill as well. The energy label can help you identify the appliances that have been approved as energy efficient.
- Refrigerators. They are heavily insulated so the cold air won’t leak out. However, the rubber gaskets on the doors deteriorates over time, the fridge loses cool air and has to work harder, using more electricity to keep the food inside cold. Check whether your fridge is running properly and if it can’t be fixed, consider getting a new one.
- Dishwashers. Contrary to what many people think, using this appliance instead of handwashing can help you save water and reduce the cost of your bills. The newer models of dishwashers are especially good for that.
- Ovens. If you’re using a model that runs on gas, you should know that that’s not very sustainable or eco-friendly. Gas is a fossil fuel and cannot be sourced sustainably, whereas electricity can. Consider switching to an electric one and make sure to clean your oven regularly so that it doesn’t waste unnecessary energy.
You can save thousands of litres of water by checking for leaks and fixing or replacing old faucets. You can also look into low-flow aerators. They are installed over the faucet tap and restrict water use from 2 up to 5,5 litres per minute.
Repair and Reuse
Choosing to repair something damaged over replacing it with a brand-new item is certainly an environmentally-friendly action. You prolong the life of your belongings instead of discarding them in the landfill. Plus, it saves you on replacement costs. However, items are not always fixable. In such cases, it’s best to go for recycled materials. More and more furniture on the market is made from reused materials. Second-hand furniture often comes in great condition as well.
In case you want to make the interior design of your kitchen greener, you can:
- Opt for big windows letting in natural light so you don’t use as much electricity during the day.
- Switch to natural linoleum flooring, which is long-lasting and made from natural materials.
- Replace your lights with eco-friendly options such as halogen incandescent, LED and CFL. Not only they will last longer, but they will also use a lot less energy than the normal ones.
Green Kitchen Makeover on a Budget
We can safely conclude that a green kitchen renovation affects your budget positively. The practices listed above help you save money by sparing you the repeated buying of single-use products such as plastic bags and paper towels. The decision to replace your
kitchen appliances, buy a compost bin or switch to eco-friendly cleaning products may seem costly, but investments of that sort help you cut costs in the long run. It’s all justified and it doesn’t have to be an intimidating complete lifestyle change – each small step counts.