We don’t really know who first proclaimed the kitchen “the heart of the home,” but we wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. The kitchen really is the hub of the home. It’s where we congregate daily to prepare and share meals, and it’s the one place that people seem to flock to, especially during a party.
It’s important to practice earth-friendly living in every room, of course, but particularly in the kitchen. Greening your kitchen means utilizing energy-efficient appliances, being waste conscious, ditching toxic chemicals, and using products made from sustainable materials. With that in mind, here are 10 simple tips for creating a more eco kitchen.
Shine Your Coffee Carafe – We love the classic “diner trick” for giving your glass coffeepot a like-new shine: add ice, salt and lemon rinds to an empty carafe, swirl for a few minutes, dump and rinse. Voila! Instant sparkle.
Lemon Rinds can also be used to remove mineral deposit buildup from your teakettle. Just fill it with water and a handful of lemon peels, bring to boiling, remove from heat and let sit for an hour before rinsing well.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – The “three R’s” are a key component of the eco kitchen, and so easy to put into practice. Case in point: our handsome knife block made from reclaimed wood and our cookbook/IPad stand that’s hand-carved from sustainable shesham wood. Our recycled glass decanter with teak stopper coombines two planet-friendly elements in one useful beverage dispenser, and our recycled seaglass dinnerware and serving pieces are as beautiful as they are functional.
Compost – Gardeners call their homemade compost “black gold” for a good reason: it provides the valuable soil-improving material that plants need. So save your vegetable and fruit peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags and other food scraps in an attractive compost jug on your counter, and you’ll have a great – and free! – source of ingredients for your own backyard compost pile.
Clean Green – Eco homemakers forego harsh chemicals in favor of natural cleaning solutions. They’re gentler on your skin, less toxic to kids and pets, and kinder to the environment – a triple win. Vinegar, baking soda and lemons are all you really need to make your kitchen sparkle.
Waste Not, Want Not – Out of necessity, our wise grandmothers were adept at getting every bit of useful life out of anything. You can, too! In the kitchen, your fruit and vegetable scraps can all be used for more than the main course meal. Use orange or lemon rinds to make a citrus extract powder or to flavor honey, vinegar and olive oil; prepare a tasty vegetable stock from onion skins, potato and carrot peels, etc.; the fleshy part of avocado peels make an excellent facial moisturizer.
Make It Last – Invest in quality cookware and utensils that will survive many years of use instead of cheap goods that barely make it through a week’s worth of meals. We love cooking with cast iron pans that have been handed down for generations yet are still good as new. Likewise, we think reusable stainless steel flatware and serving pieces are designed to endure and can be used over and over again. For our table top linens, we choose linen napkins and table cloths. They are not only a greener choice than throwaway paper products, they’re much prettier to look at, too.
Buy in Bulk – Spices, cereal, grains, pasta, beans, flour, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, trail mix, coffee and tea can all be found in bulk bins in many supermarkets. Buying in bulk is a great eco-friendly practice because it reduces packaging waste and you save money by buying only what you need.
Bulk Cooking is also an important element of the eco kitchen. Making a big pot of soup, chili or stew and freezing some of it for another day is a more efficient use of energy and your time.
Water is essential for life; water in disposable plastic bottles is not. For a more eco approach, use a water pitcher with a replaceable filter (we love our Brita!), install a filter on your kitchen faucet, or refill your bottles at stores that sell filtered water by the gallon.