Friday, March 12, 2010

Going Green in the Kitchen - tips and hints

As promised, here is the latest installment of Going Green in the Kitchen.

  • Use the dishwasher - this surprises most people, but a fully loaded (but not overloaded) dishwasher uses less water and energy than washing and rinsing by hand. For even more eco benefits, use the eco-cycle (sometimes called the energy saver cycle), and turn off the dryer. As soon as the cycle is finished, crack open the door a bit to allow the steam to evaporate.
  • Use an ecofriendly dishwasher detergent and use the correct amount, not too much. I like Ecover and Seventh Generation as I find them just as effective as regular detergents.
  • Twice a year, clean behind your fridge. Getting rid of the dust on the coils will make the fridge work much more efficiently.
  • Since we are talking about the fridge, check that the seals are tight. To check, slip a piece of paper behind the seals and close the door. Try to pull out the paper; if it comes out easily (or worse, falls down straight away!), the seals need to be fixed.

  • Don't toss left-over oil or grease down the sink - it can cause clogs and is bad for the waterways. Instead, start a grease jar with a recycled glass jar. When it is full, seal it and put it out with the garbage.
  • Flush your sink regularly with a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar. Allow to fizz and then follow with a kettle of boiling water. This fizzy combination helps clean the pipes and prevents clogging that may need stronger chemicals to fix.

  • When using your oven, try and bake more than one dish at once. A lot of energy is used to preheat the oven, so using the hot oven to start a new dish, or even better, cooking them both at once, can save lots of energy. If you often only have something small to bake, a small toaster oven is a great investment as it uses much less energy than a full oven.
  • Make sure you use the right sized burners for your pans when cooking, especially if you have an electric cooktop. Using a larger burner than necessary wastes a large amount of energy.

  • Start composting your food waste. If you don't have the space for a full compost bin or a worm farm, there are lots of other methods. We use a Bokashi Bucket which is odourless, and composts all food waste including meat and dinner scraps. Stay tuned for a whole post on this wonderful system.
  • Minimise food waste. Only buy what you need and try and "shop" your fridge and pantry to make sure you are using up the things you have bought. The developed world throws away an incredible amount of food each year, so help to reverse this trend.

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