The kitchen is often the center of a home. It’s the place where guests gather during parties, kids snack after school, and families meet for dinner, so when you want to incorporate eco-friendly ideas into your house, the kitchen is the perfect place to start. From refrigerators to dishwashers to cleaning, there are lots of easy changes you can make to get your kitchen as green as it can be.
Be smart with paper
Paper made up 28.5% of all U.S. household waste in 2010 – that’s more than any other material! Paper, though, is one of the easiest things to keep out of the trash, and there’s no better place to start than the kitchen. Replace paper towels with reusable cloth napkins and towels, and when you do need to use paper products make sure they’re made from 100% recycled materials. And remember, paper is both recyclable and compostable!
Avoid noxious fumes and environmentally damaging chemical cleaners by switching to green cleaning products. Get a citrus-based detergent and liquid soap to wash your dishes and skip chlorine in favor of oxygen bleach to disinfect surfaces.
Avoiding plastic grocery bags is an easy way to cut down on kitchen waste – just keep reusable bags on hand. Try storing them by the front door or in the car so you don’t forget them on the way to the store.
From making pasta to washing dishes, we send a lot of water down the drains in our kitchens. To help reduce all that waste, outfit your kitchen to be as efficient as possible. Install a sensor on your faucet so it only runs when it’s needed or stick a bucket in the sink to catch extra water for plants or gardening. Also, make sure your sink has a low-flow faucet or aerator and turn off the extra rinse cycle on your dishwasher.
Filter your water
Make sure the water your family drinks is free of chemicals and pollutants by installing a water filter that will clean out chlorine, pesticides, and lead.
Eating organic, locally-grown food is good for both you and the environment. You’ll be getting nutritious food free from pesticides and chemical additives while supporting farms that protect the environment. Also look for free-trade products like chocolate, fruit, honey, and wine.
Compost is an easy way to cut down on kitchen waste. Just throw your kitchen scraps and used paper products into a compost bin and in a few months, you’ll have safe, nutritious fertilizer for your yard or indoor plants.
Make your table eco-friendly
Stock your kitchen with eco-friendly tableware like bamboo bowls or plates and cups made from recycled, phthalate-free plastic. And always avoid plastic-coated disposable plates, cups, and cutlery that will end up in landfills.
Buy in bulk
One of the best ways to cut down on food waste and save money is to buy in bulk. It’s easy to pack away items like cereal, pasta, and even vegetables in reusable containers then stick them in the cupboard or freezer until you need them. You’ll be avoiding excess packaging and making sure you only use what you need so nothing goes to waste.
Be energy efficient
The kitchen is full of appliances that suck up electricity, but with a little bit of care, you can keep those energy bills low. Dial back your refrigerator and freezer to the lowest setting you need and wash your dishes in cold water. If you’re shopping for new appliances, look for the EPA’s Energy Star label: it guarantees your new dishwasher or fridge will be more energy-efficient without sacrificing performance.
A lot of the waste that comes from the kitchen can be recycled, so set up an easy-to-access bin for all your plastic, glass, aluminum, and paper trash.
Remodel the greenway
Building materials can be a huge source of indoor air pollutants: pressed wood cabinets, vinyl flooring, and granite countertops can release VOCs like formaldehyde and other pollutants like radon. To keep the air in your kitchen clean, update your walls, floors, and fixtures with non-toxic building materials.
Skip the plastic
Store leftovers in reusable containers made from glass or stainless steel instead of environmentally-damaging plastics, and if you’re looking for disposable containers, stick with compostable options like PLA or bagasse. Also, make sure to never microwave food in plastics: toxins like BPA and phthalates can leach from plastic containers into the food they hold.