Reducing Waste in the Kitchen
Although kitchens immediately bring to mind food, they also often times are associated with waste. (Can you possibly imagine a kitchen without a trash bin?) Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. With a few creative tips, these waste hotspots can be turned into our gracious greenhouses.
Check out our list of 8 easy ways to reduce energy and food waste in your kitchen:
1. Prevent food spoilage!
A whopping 1/3 of food goes to waste in the United States. On average, families throw out approximately $1,000 worth of uneaten food a year from food scraps alone! There are several ways to minimize all that waste: try planning your meals ahead of time according to their shelf-life. You can put an “eat first!” basket at the front of the fridge with the items that need to be used ASAP; and freeze foods and fruit that you know won’t be eaten in the near future.
2. Recycle kitchen scraps
Some food scraps are inevitable (yeah, sorry, not eating that pineapple husk!) But that doesn’t mean they have to go to the landfill! Consider signing up for a local composting program; donating scraps to a nearby farm; or using a biogas generation system like HomeBiogas, which converts food scraps into renewable cooking gas and fertilizer.
3. Bring reusable packaging to your supermarket!
The amount of packaging on food can be catastrophic to our oceans, air, groundwater, atmosphere, sidewalks, and.. well you get the point. Bring reusable bags, jars, and containers to the supermarket, and opt for supermarkets that supply food in bulk bins (pic below). (If you do end up buying those lentils in their plastic packaging, hold onto the empty package and wrap tomorrow’s sandwich in it.)
Whether it’s baking a cake from scratch or making homemade cleaning products, these DIY options are far friendlier on your wallet and your carbon footprint. And they don’t need to be complicated! Vinegar, baking soda, and lemon work wonders when it comes to cleaning. If nature has survived all these millennia without toxic cleaning products, we can probably survive without them too.
5. Use Your Appliances Efficiently
Check what energy efficient options are available on your appliances, and make sure to use them as often as possible. Use the climate-controlled compartments of your fridge, and consider swapping your spare refrigerator for a mini-fridge. Use your dishwasher only when its full, ditch the pre-heat option on your stove when possible, go for short laundry cycles, and air dry clothes.
6. Sim City!
Save gas by simming your food! Once food has reached a boil, most dishes are more than happy simming in their flavors on a low heat. Make sure to cover (or partly cover if it’s a grain) your pots and pans, and the trapped heat will continue to cook your dish to perfection. If you are cooking a meal well-before serving it, give it a half cook, and then give it the final cook before you serve, so that you don’t waste energy reheating. (This also prevents overcooking the food.)
7. Sprout and Go Raw!
Eating raw foods has plenty of health benefits and is eco-friendly too! Try rawing it out one meal a day or having a raw dish alongside meals. You’ll be amazed at how creative your salads can get. (Hello peanut satay dressing!) Sprouting your grains can also save energy in the kitchen since sprouted foods can be eaten uncooked, or just need a 10 min cook to get the same taste as its un-sprouted counterpart.
8. Think Reusable
Using reusable napkins for the kids, rags for cleaning the counter instead of paper towels, hot/cold thermoses for school or work, and silverware instead of plastic cutlery for takeaway lunches can make a significant impact and is so easy!
While it may seem that these are insignificant changes, when applied daily, impacts can ripple globally. (Just ask that happy fish and all its offspring who are alive because you didn’t dump that bag into his backyard!) Not only does every tiny act count towards cleaning up our only home, but being conscious and doing good is contagious. Be an example that you want people to follow, and watch how quickly they will start adopting your eco-habits too!
Written by: Hilla Benzaken
Hilla is a passionate foodie and environmentalist. She writes on energy efficiency, food, and reducing waste.