8 guidelines to be more sustainable in the kitchen

It is the home space where more waste is generated. However, there are a number of accessible measures to have an environmentally friendly kitchen.

Last update: October 28, 2021

There is no doubt that climate change is an emergency and that addressing it requires instantaneous action on the part of humanity. Beyond large-scale decisions, it is possible to be more sustainable in the kitchen to generate an individual contribution.

Most people understand that environmental pollution no longer represents a future threat, but a present one. Some recent events, such as the forest fires in the Amazon or in Australia, invite awareness. It is time to think about the kitchen, the sector of the home where more pollution is generated.

At the same time, it is the space in which changes are most within reach. Actions such as buying vegetables in season, reusing leftovers and reducing the use of plastics help to be more sustainable in the kitchen.

Useful practices to be more sustainable in the kitchen

Reducing the individual carbon footprint, that is, the amount of pollution that each person leaves behind, is possible through daily changes in the home. Sustainable cooking is concerned with a lower and more efficient use of energy in cooking food. In addition, due to the reduction of waste and the reuse of water and organic matter.

Being more sustainable in the kitchen is not only aimed at improving environmental conditions, but also personal health. Far from representing great efforts or inconvenience, modifying some daily practices can help save time and money.

1. Take advantage of food

One of the fundamental actions to be more sustainable in the kitchen is food management. This means making more responsible purchases to prevent food from spoiling and becoming waste. Pay attention to expiration dates and choose long-lasting products.

The moment of purchase is the beginning of sustainable practices in the kitchen.

2. Less waste, more reuse

In 2019, according to data from the United Nations (UN), 17% of the food available to consumers ended up in the trash. On the other hand, an annual average of 121 kilograms of food per person is wasted.

These shocking numbers can be reduced with some everyday practices such as the following:

  • Plan a weekly menu: helps manage purchases based on set meals.
  • Waste oil: oil can be very polluting, but it can also be used for recycling. It is used in the production of soaps or biodiesel fuel.
  • Compost: organic remains are useful as a compost pile for plants in the personal garden. If you do not have one, approach local agricultural organizations, who can take advantage of it.
  • Use kitchen: Before throwing away the food scraps, check if it is possible to form a plate with them. Another option is to use them for soups, smoothies, fillings, jams, or fruit salads.
  • Recycling: Regarding waste that cannot be reused, it is important to separate it properly. Find out the guidelines for each city.

3. Ecological recipes to be more sustainable in the kitchen

The recipes of professional chefs around the world that take into account the environmental perspective are increasingly popular. Even the United Nations General Assembly declared June 18 as Sustainable Gastronomy Day.

In general, it is advisable to reduce the consumption of red meat, due to the contamination generated by cattle. Secondly, encourage purchases in bulk markets and the intake of raw vegetables to take better advantage of some nutrients and not use cooking energy.

Try to avoid foods with many preservatives, pesticides and polluting packaging. There are increasingly varied organic options.

It is important to know the place of production, especially for fruits and vegetables. Consume those in season and those that are closest, worked by local farmers, in order to avoid contamination by transport and packaging.

4. Tableware materials

In addition to food, the objects used in the kitchen also have an impact on the environment. It is possible to replace, when there is no alternative, those made with polluting materials such as Teflon.

Prioritize pressure cookers and pans made of stainless steel or cast iron which, in addition, have a longer duration. Choose cutting boards made of wood rather than plastic, as well as glass or ceramic dishes and trays. This also applies to cutlery, plates and cups.

5. Avoid plastic is to be more sustainable in the kitchen

It is a material used in a large number of objects. The overproduction of plastic is causing significant damage to the environment. Furthermore, its degradation times are very long; about 50 years for glasses, 150 for bags and up to 1000 for bottles.

For this reason, it is essential to replace the kitchen elements that contain this material. Use cloth bags for shopping, prioritize glass containers and store or wrap food in other containers that do not have a single use.

6. Take care of the water

Another important aspect to be more sustainable in the kitchen is to reduce water consumption. There are techniques, such as washing fruits and vegetables in containers, with the tap turned off. Then, reuse that water to water the plants. On the other hand, be attentive to the leaks or leaks of the pipes to repair them in a short time and not waste.

7. Household appliances and energy

There are different alternatives to reduce energy consumption for the kitchen. One of them is to use only the necessary appliances. Instead of buying new ones immediately, check if it is possible to repair them.

If the only option is to buy one, check the energy efficiency category it has. It can be a little more expensive, but also more effective, so the money comes back in saving the electricity bill. This applies to refrigerators, freezers, and dishwashers, among others.

As for stoves and ovens, it is convenient to choose electric or induction, since they are usually less polluting than gas. On the other hand, there are solar outdoor kitchens for those who have the possibility of placing them on a patio or balcony. It is a great option to take advantage of solar energy.

8. Cleaning products

It is possible to be more sustainable in the kitchen also during cleaning. Avoid chemicals intended to remove grease and whiten.

They can be replaced with items like baking soda, lemon juice, oil soap, or white vinegar. They are as effective as commercial ones but less polluting.

Cleaning the kitchen with more natural products reduces the impact of industrial chemicals.

Be more sustainable in and out of the kitchen

Despite being the space where more waste is generated, to reduce the carbon footprint it is important to acquire practices in all sectors of the home. For example, limit the use of water also in the shower, turning it off in the intermediate moments and only activating it during rinsing.

On the other hand, reduce the use of gasoline-powered cars and increase the use of bicycles or transport with renewable fuels. LED or energy-saving lights are another way to save electricity in all areas of the house.

Plastic objects can also be avoided in other areas. For example, the toothbrush, an item that is often changed often. There are more and more varied options, made with materials such as bamboo.

Those with a large patio or balcony can start their own organic garden. Self-consumption achieves that resources are optimized and foods prepared under the conditions of each person are ingested. In addition, the application of pesticides is avoided.

No need for an abrupt change

To be more sustainable in the kitchen, it is not convenient to apply all the recommendations immediately. It is likely that, in this way, it will end in exhaustion and in the non-incorporation of any measure into daily practices. Starting with small changes until internalizing them is the best.

For example, cooking methods are a good start. Avoid preheating the oven, as most reach the desired temperature very quickly. Turn it off when cooking is finished, in order to take advantage of the residual heat. It is also possible to optimize the gas on the stove by using pots that fit the measurements and covering them to conserve heat.

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