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Do It Better: How to Turn your Kitchen ‘Green’

By Joyce Venezia Suss

Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22, often with public cleanup events and informational announcements. If you want to do something meaningful right at home, consider these ways to make your kitchen “green.” 

Don’t Waste Water

If you like cold water, keep a pitcher of water in your refrigerator. Don’t let the water run when washing dishes; fill a basin with clean water to rinse off the soap.

Don’t Waste Food

Plan your menu and create a shopping list so nothing ends up in the trash. Shop only when you are close to running out of food. Cook in bulk to save energy. Use leftovers for lunch the next day, freeze them for another meal, or offer them to a teenage neighbor in the midst of a growth spurt! Set up a composting system for vegetable and fruit peels, used tea bags, coffee grounds, clean eggshells, etc.

Reduce Plastic

Stop using plastic disposable cups and plates for parties and picnics. Instead, invest in lightweight melamine dishes and low-cost, stainless-steel cutlery. Tote them in a covered plastic container that will also be used to carry them home for cleaning. Bring a fabric tablecloth, not disposable plastic.

Think Green and Clean

Use eco-friendly cleaning products. Look for dish soap and detergents that don’t contain phosphates, and trash bags that are biodegradable, made with plant-based or recyclable materials.

Conserve Paper

Dishtowels are not just for drying dishes. Keep a big stack ready for spills and quick cleanups instead of relying on paper towels.

Fill That Dishwasher

Run the dishwasher when it’s full. Many newer model dishwashers actually use less water than handwashing, but for maximum benefit, run it only when full. Some dishwashers also have an economy setting. And don’t rinse food off before loading the dishwasher – it’s not necessary!

Use Energy Efficiently

When bringing water to a boil, use a lid to trap the heat. If you are cooking a small meal, opt for a toaster oven or microwave rather than turning on the oven. It’s usually not necessary to preheat an oven nowadays – except perhaps if you are baking a souffle.

Rethink Plastic Wrap

Aluminum foil can be reused several times to cover dishes; once dirty, rinse it off and recycle. Store food in reusable glass jars or bowls, or plastic containers that can ultimately be recycled.

Avoid Wasteful Packaging

Instead of buying individual snacks in plastic cups or bags, portion applesauce, pudding and snacks in reusable, spill-proof containers. 

Look for Energy-Efficient Appliances

Replace old appliances with energy-efficient models that may dramatically lower your energy bill.

Transform your Morning Routine

Brew your coffee using a coffee maker with paper filters, a percolator or a French press. Avoid coffee makers that use single-use K-cups that aren’t recyclable, typically made of plastic. Landfills already contain an estimated tens of billions of these pods – and the number is growing every day. If you buy coffee at a local shop, hand the barista your own clean, reusable coffee cup.

Hit the Lights

Finally, turn off kitchen lights after meals. It’s not just to save energy: Research has shown that a dark kitchen tells your brain the room is closed for the day, which may help control weight gain!

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