Going green in the kitchen is one of the best things you can do for yourself and the planet. A few simple shifts will have you cooking up an eco-kitchen in no time. With 70 percent of your home’s trash going to landfill instead of being composed, it’s easy to see where we need to begin. If you don’t compost, I hope you will after reading this.
Compost….Everything To Can!
When you compost you are actively making a difference in the city where you live. You are reducing the volume of waste heading to the landfill, you’re decreasing the amount of methane gas being released into the atmosphere (which causes air pollution) and you are creating the BEST soil that is full of nutrients and is used to grow food in abundance.
Food waste has become a major issue in Canada, but there are communities implementing innovative waste-free programs all over the country.
In Scarborough, a 25-year-old condominium with 1,000 residents is generating only one dumpster of garbage per month. The residents of Mayfair on the Green are reducing, reusing, recycling and composting over 85% of their waste, far above the average high-rise building that diverts only 26%. You can read more about how they do it here.
The food you eat and where it comes from its super important. Buy local wherever you can!
Food miles count and the fewer miles from farm to table the better. Pineapple might taste amazing in the cold winter months. But think of the pollution to fly it here, not to mention all the preservatives, biocides (both used to keep the foods from spoiling before they arrive) and other crapola found in foods that travel to us. If you can, try to support community supported agriculture (CSA) co-ops, farmers markets or the farm itself. This is a great place to get started. And make sure you are buying sustainable foods as much as you can!
Reduce excessive packaging in the home by shopping with your own bags, buying fresh, unwrapped produce and avoiding oversized portions. If you are throwing away food on a regular basis you are either buying or cooking too much. I used to shop once a week, but have found over time that I was wasting a lot of food. If you can get to the grocery store twice a week and plan all my meals in advance, I end up using all the food I buy and wasting less and less. Bulk cooking is another way to ensure you eat all the food in the home…leftovers, anyone?
Reuse glass jars for storage and make sure you have lots of reusable bags on hand. If you are buying goods that are packaged, always recycle!
TIP: When shopping at a grocery store, approach it as if you were shopping at your local farmers market. At a market, packaging is usually minimal and you almost always need to bring your own bags. Think of the grocery store in the same way, yes you may get a funny look here and there. But who cares? Right?
For non-perishables, buy in bulk, you’ll make fewer trips to the grocery store and save money in the long run too.
TIP: Buy bulk packages of microfiber cloths or towels used to clean and detail cars. Just use them in the kitchen. Same microfiber clothes, just cheaper and sturdier cause they are in the car section.
Break-Up With Toxic Chemicals!
I want you to run into your kitchen and get rid of all your harsh cleaners right now. They are harming you, me and the environment. If you are not sure where to begin, there are a ton of really effective, healthy green cleaners on the well.ca website.
Have you tried to DIY, it’s fun, easy and cheap. These simple, effective, homemade recipes with whiten and disinfect your kitchen, safely!
Be Water Wise!
One of the cheapest ways to go green in the kitchen is by installing a low-flow aerator. We tend to waste water when cooking and preparing foods, this simple step will save you water by regulating the flow but without changing the pressure.
Run the dishwasher on a full load and let the dishes air dry. I just leave the door open slightly and they are dry within an hour. If you are purchasing new appliance for the kitchen go with Energy Star certified, they typically use 50% less energy (and about $40/ year on bills) , this will help reduce your monthly energy bill as well.
Non-Stick = No Way!
Non-stick pots and pans are coated with PFOAs, nasty chemicals that have been linked to cancer. Health Canada does note that polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a specific kind on PFOA can give off poisonous fumes at very high temps. If you are buying titanium, they may contain PTFE, so best to ask or avoid if you are not sure.
Ceramic, touted as the best in “eco” pans, are not all they are cracked up to be. Many of the ones I have used get scratched easily or just don’t deliver the “non-stick” promise. There have also been reports that show high levels of lead and cadmium in the glazes of these pots and pans.
Stainless steel is better, they are very durable but they can leach nickel and chromium into your food. So if you opt for steel, try carbon steel instead.
By far the best choice is cast iron. Keep these things in mind though: they are expensive, heavy and need to be cleaner and prepared properly, or they will get ruined. But I figure it’s still worth it as what we put in our bodies is key to optimal health.
Choosing tools that last and perform well is a good way to start on your green journey. If you are cooking for two for example, perhaps invest in a slow cooker or toaster oven, these are effective, affordable and will use way less energy (up to 30% less) than your oven, lessening your carbon footprint.
If you want your fridge/freezer to run more effectively make sure they are full. Where your fridge is concerned, if it’s over ten years old, it’s time to replace it. It’s costing you about one hundred and fifty bucks a year and wasting tons of energy. The OPA’s https://saveonenergy.ca/ program will pick up your old fridge/freezer for free. That same website also has a ton of energy saving coupons.
Don’t stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open for long periods of time, it wastes a ton energy.
Eat Red Meat Less Often
The production and feeding of cattle is one of the most detrimental aspect of climate change. When a cow belches, it releases methane gas, which is which is 23 times more potent at trapping heat in our atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
Not to mention the raising and eating of livestock not only pollutes water, air, and soil, it’s responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions — a higher share than transportation emissions.
If you don’t want to cut it out completely, you can cut it out at least one to two times per week.
Candice is an award winning eco-journalist and one of Canada’s leading eco advocates. Her career spans national and international media outlets. She’s currently the eco expert for CTV and the editor in chief of The Eco Hub, a digital media company that connects conscious consumers to brands and companies that care about people and the planet. Their ultimate goal is provide their readers with the resources they need to find chic, stylish, sustainable, affordable, made in Canada alternatives to everyday items.