Modern society is all about making more eco-friendly choices in our daily lives. This could be as simple as forsaking your morning coffee shop in favor of making coffee at home and bringing it in a reusable travel cup, altering your pension to invest only in green funds, or making use of crafting crazes to reuse materials that might otherwise go to landfill.
You don’t need to be a totally vegan, hemp-wearing Earth warrior to make eco-friendly choices. There are plenty of smaller things you can do to help ensure a brighter future for everyone.
There are many ways to lessen your environmental impact in the kitchen alone, from lowering your energy consumption to reducing water usage and food waste.
Here are some of the best ways to turn your kitchen into a hub for hassle-free, eco-friendly cooking:
1. Buy Local Ingredients
While it might be easier to pop to your local store, farmers’ markets are absolutely packed full of incredible, fresh, locally grown produce that not only tastes great but is far better for the planet! If you can’t get to a farmers market, then look for food items that have traveled the least distance possible to reduce the carbon footprint caused by transporting goods.
If you can afford it, organic food can also be an important part of eco-friendly cooking. It’s great because it uses no toxic chemicals or pesticides, meaning a cleaner meal and a cleaner planet.
2. Get Planet-Friendly Cookware
Although non-stick pans such as Teflon might be incredibly convenient, they are also known for releasing toxic chemicals into the atmosphere and into your food! Avoid this nightmare by purchasing high-quality and long-lasting cookware instead.
Cast-iron cookware, like this, is brilliant because it can last a lifetime and, when seasoned properly, also has non-stick properties. Stainless steel is also a great eco-friendly choice for durability. For baking, aim for glass, metal, silicon, or ceramics.
3. Cover Pans While Cooking
Cooking food uncovered allows a lot of heat to be lost to the air, so put a lid on that pot! Even cooking with part-covered pots and pans can help retain more heat and cook your food faster, meaning less time in the kitchen and lower energy consumption.
4. Learn About Your Refrigerator
Your refrigerator is probably one of the appliances in your home that uses the most energy. Still, with a few simple hacks, you can learn better ways to use your refrigerator and reduce this consumption.
Check out the Kitchn’s hacks for organizing your refrigerator (yes, there is a right way to do this). You should also be sure any food is at room temperature before placing in the fridge and regularly check the rubber seals to ensure the cooling system isn’t working harder than it needs to.
If you have cooling coils on the back of your refrigerator, giving these a vacuum occasionally is another great way to make your fridge more energy efficient.
5. Chop Your Food into Smaller Pieces
This goes back to eco-friendly cooking that uses less energy: the smaller your food is, the quicker it will cook. Slice up your meats and veggies thinly to get them cooked through in less time. This also makes cooking more straightforward as you don’t need to worry whether the middle of the chicken is cooked when you can see it!
6. Cook Larger Portions at Once
On a separate note, cooking larger portions that will last you a few days can also help diminish your energy consumption and carbon footprint. Reheating food takes significantly less time and energy than cooking it in the first place, so preparing yourself a week’s worth of meals at once won’t just save you time—it can also help save the planet!
7. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Leftovers
Food waste is a huge problem, particularly here in the States, with an estimated 35.3 million tons going to landfill in 2018! Do your bit to combat this awful state of affairs by following the Laws of Leftovers to create delicious extra dishes with your last few scraps of food from last night’s dinner.
If you really can’t face a third day of the same meal (or you forgot about it for too long and the food is no longer edible—it happens to the best of us!), then use them as natural compost for your garden. No garden? Look for schemes in your local area that use food waste; you might be surprised how many options are available to you!