Most of us spend hours at a time in the kitchen – if not cooking, then cleaning, socialising and a lot of the time, even working at the laptop on the breakfast bar! A great kitchen needs to be ergonomically pleasing and practical in daily use, it needs to have plentiful and accessible storage space, and of course it needs to look good too. Many of us want our kitchens to be efficient, economical and eco-friendly as well. Let’s take a look at ways of being kinder to the environment whilst enjoying our kitchen comforts …
1 No single use plastics
It should almost go without saying, but avoid or ban single use plastics from your kitchen and your entire home if possible! If you do end up with single use plastic packaging to dispose of, ensure it’s in the correct recycling bin. Stop buying plastic bottles of water, treat yourself to a fun, eco-friendly personal water bottle and a coffee cup with a sturdy lid, avoiding take-away detritus (and spills too).
2 Green cleaning
Use environmentally-friendly cleaning products, or make your own products, and only buy recyclable or re-fillable bottles and containers. Vinegar, baking soda, elbow grease and a good anti-bac spray will deal with most cleaning needs! Clean the oven regularly, ideally wipe it down after each use. If you don’t let grease and grime build up in the first place there’s no temptation to deal with the problem with nasty chemicals.
3 More veggies, less meat
Eat more vegetable and plant-based meals, try to include vegan and vegetarian recipes in your repertoire. Eating and buying less meat will decrease your carbon footprint, so buy fresh, buy local and avoid food ‘air miles’. This attitude of course, is also very likely to have a positive effect on your health.
4 The best laid plans
Plan ahead regarding cooking, shopping and try to create a rota of favourite recipes that you know are a hit with all the family, with the aim of avoiding food waste. Store things in date order of use in the fridge and freezer, label where necessary, and rotate items from back of cupboard to front so packets don’t linger past their ‘best before’ dates. And remember, avoiding food waste saves money too …
5 Storage sense
Choose your food storage containers carefully … it’s worth investing in good quality glass jars for dried ingredients, as well as for fridge storage of homemade products. Look after the plastic storage items you’ve already got, but avoid buying more. Glass and ceramic containers last longer and look nicer, and there are re-useable stretch-over lids available too. Try to track down a local ‘refill’ store, where you take your own containers to get refilled.
6 Energy efficiency
All appliances, from toasters to washing machines, should be looked upon as ‘investment’ pieces and it’s always worth doing some research before purchase. Check the energy ratings, especially of items such as dishwashers, ovens, hobs, fridges and freezers. Find out if the ‘eco’ cycles will meet your requirements, and whether there is an appropriate quick-wash when you need to save time as well as energy! Clean air is important in the kitchen, so make sure the extractor/hood/downdraft extractor on your list is the right size for the room.
7 One-pot magic
A modest investment in a pressure cooker or a slow cooker (or a multi-pot that does both) is an all-round winner in that it will save time, effort, energy, money, and produce great family meals without constant tending, stirring and monitoring. All the models we’ve seen come with a good set of recipes which can be incorporated into an environmentally-friendly rota of one-pot meals that can be slipped into the menu planning once or twice a week (or be used for batch-cooking).
8 Worksurface solutions
Work surfaces play a huge part in the overall look and style of a kitchen, and there are many environmentally-friendly options. Consider recycled glass work surfaces (made from glass bottles), solid surface materials that incorporate recycled plastics and real hardwood surfaces. Materials such as quartz and marble aren’t considered to be environmentally-friendly in themselves, but if those surfaces feature in a used kitchen or ex-display kitchen then at least it’s not going to landfill and is being re-purposed.
9 Buy a used kitchen
If you’re in the market for a new kitchen, always consider sustainable options such as buying an ex-display or used kitchen. And it’s not a complicated process … it’s straightforward to buy a pre-loved kitchen or an ex-display kitchen via Used Kitchen Exchange. Not only will there be significant cost savings, purchasing a used kitchen can, by its re-use, save up to 5000kg of carbon. That’s about the equivalent of a family of four being carbon neutral for a year. Contact Used Kitchen Exchange to learn more about these affordable kitchens. The process of buying a used kitchen or ex-display kitchen is explained in detail on the website, with every piece of furniture and appliance listed for each kitchen, and there’s a dismantling service available too.
10 Make it last
We all want to come home to a beautiful kitchen, so make the most of what goes into it. Choose utensils and gadgets that you will definitely use and which will last for ages. Don’t buy dozens of cheap plastic spoons, ladles and spatulas which will break, stain and end up in landfill. Invest in good quality knives that will withstand regular sharpening and can be used forever. Buy top quality cookware, try cast-iron for casserole dishes and oven/bakeware. Enamelled cast iron pots, pans and oven trays are very often seen in charity shops and antique markets – definitely worth a second look! Choose classic shapes and neutral colours. Switch up the colour scheme with colourful table linen and napkins – once again, try antique fairs and charity shops.