Adopting an environmentally friendly lifestyle in your kitchen does not require a complete remodel. Simple tasks such as introducing a small herb garden to your windowsill or composting food scraps will make your kitchen greener. Here are four ways to create a more eco-friendly kitchen that doesn’t involve the sledgehammer.
Windowsill Herb Garden
Herbs are known to harbor nasty pesticides, which can be avoided by purchasing organic, and usually expensive, produce. By growing your own herbs, you can save money, greatly reduce the risk of groundwater pollution and increase local biodiversity by avoiding chemical inputs. All you need is a windowsill that gets plenty of sunshine (over six hours a day), a grow box, herb pot set or windowsill planter, organic herb seedlings or seeds and organic mixing soil. If your window won’t be getting enough natural light, you could use fluorescent bulbs to supplement growth, but be sure the herbs have good drainage, and trim frequently to encourage new growth.
ENERGY STAR Appliances and Lighting
If your budget allows for appliance upgrades, consider ENERGY STAR-certified appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers that will reduce energy use while saving you money on operating costs. The ENERGY STAR certification guarantees high-performing and top-quality products with the newest and most cutting-edge energy efficient technology.
If appliances don’t quite fit the budget, reassess your kitchen lighting and replace old light bulbs with more energy-efficient LED bulbs that are approximately 90 percent more efficient than traditional incandescent light bulbs. Another low-budget option is to install under-cabinet lighting that eliminates shadows to reduce injuries while chopping, provides a unique style to your kitchen and is more energy efficient since it doesn’t require as much power to give you maximum function.
Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products and Detergent
Chemicals in cleaning and detergent products are not only harmful to your family but also for the environment, as they’re washed down the drain or released into the air we breathe. Look for products that are non-toxic, biodegradable, phosphate-free and made from natural ingredients. If you don’t know where to start, look to the non-profit Environmental Working Group, which provides a list of their top products for greener cleaners and household needs. For an at-home alternative, try one of these 27 chemical-free recipes, like the the heavy-duty toilet cleaner that requires one-half cup of baking soda, 10 drops of tea tree essential oil and one-fourth cup of vinegar.
Composting Food Scraps
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food scraps and yard waste make up anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of what ends up in landfills. By composting your food scraps, you will reduce your carbon footprint and the methane emission that would normally come from a landfill while enriching your windowsill garden’s soil and reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. For composting at home, set up a compost pile in your backyard or indoors using a special type of bin. Although the compost pile is fairly low maintenance, it’s important to properly manage the bin to avoid pests and a rancid smell.
Living a greener lifestyle doesn’t require a full-blown remodel of your home and kitchen. Start with simple steps such as installing ENERGY STAR appliances and energy-efficient kitchen lighting to begin reducing your environmental footprint.