Greening the kitchen

Posted 4/19/23

For me, greening the kitchen is a matter of consciousness.

Consciousness about what food I have in the refrigerator, so I use it before it spoils. Consciousness about what’s in the freezer …

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Greening the kitchen


For me, greening the kitchen is a matter of consciousness.

Consciousness about what food I have in the refrigerator, so I use it before it spoils. Consciousness about what’s in the freezer that needs to be used. Consciousness of how I clean up spills or get the dishes washed. 

Basically and foundationally, this emerging consciousness is whether my choices are based on what is most convenient for me, or what is most beneficial for the planet. Fortunately, at this time of general awareness about needing to slow down our use of natural resources and plastics, finding innovative products that are gentle on the earth and amazingly effective to use is accomplished by becoming more conscious about our choices.

In cleaning up a spill, one should consider whether to use paper, a sponge or even a kitchen towel. In deciding, I often think about the disgustingness of the job. 

I don’t know about you, but there’s a certain cleanliness that I think about with disposable products. The messier the job, the more I want to use paper. 

So it was with great delight that I received a couple of Swedish dishcloths from my son a couple of years back. They work as sponges and as paper towels. They can be rinsed out and can go into the wash! According to promotional literature, they absorb 20 times their weight in water. I feel good using them—even on the disgusting stuff.

I returned the favor a year or so later when I gifted them a set of silicone reusable storage bags for Christmas. With that purchase, I added a couple for myself, and I LOVE them. They store leftovers, double as freezer containers, are washable—both by hand and in a dishwasher—and because they are not plastic, you can heat food in them. While moderately expensive, depending on the brand, they cut down on using and buying a whole lot of single-use plastic bags.

Speaking of buying, my consciousness is activated in considering whether what I am buying is in a plastic jar or a glass one. 

A growing green consciousness gives us all the ability and the lens to look at our daily consumption of products and habits, and lighten them up in terms of taking care of the earth.

Rather than just considering what action is most convenient to us, we can look at our choices about our everyday habits with an eye that they actually have consequences for our grandchildren and the planet. This consciousness extends the sense of connection that helps us make easy and different decisions about how we exist, in this particular instance, in our kitchens.

Greening our kitchens is a process of becoming conscious of our habits and then, in our own way, creatively figuring out how we’re going to change consumptive habits to a pay-it-forward model.

This we can do.

If you’d like to share your tips on how you are greening your kitchen, send them to

Saving energy: for ourselves, for the planet

1. When boiling water, put a lid on it.
Lids trap the heat inside; the pot requires less energy and the water boils faster.
2. Reuse parchment paper and aluminum foil.
Parchment paper simplifies cleanup, keeps foods from sticking; and can be reused, as can aluminum foil. Clean, dry and fold for storage.
3. Give zip-tops a second life.
Hand-wash and dry thoroughly. Do not reuse bags that contained raw meat, seafood or eggs. Consider using silicone food-storage bags.
4. Find alternatives to disposable plates and cutlery.
Even on a picnic, use camping plates or reusable washable plastic plates. Pack a set of cloth napkins and cutlery for an authentic and unique experience.
5. Save the water you use to wash produce and rinse rice and beans.
Rice water in particular is more beneficial to plants because of the added starch, which encourages the growth of healthy bacteria. Additionally, thawing frozen food—packaged in a watertight bag—in cool water uses latent energy, and the water can easily be reused.
6. Don’t let the faucet run when washing dishes by hand.
Fill a large bowl with warm water and soap, wash the dishes and then rinse them all at once.
7. Run the dishwasher only when it’s full.
For those with the luxury of a dishwasher, it tends to be more eco-friendly than handwashing. However, you should wait until it’s full to run it, and use the “economy” option if you have it. Also consider turning off heat-drying and letting the dishes air dry.
8. Be smarter when preheating the oven.
For items where a stark temperature change isn’t important—e.g. bacon and baked potatoes—you don’t need to preheat the oven at all; just put the food in and let it start to cook as the oven climbs to the desired temperature.
9. Embrace leftovers.
Eating leftovers not only helps reduce food waste, but it can help save time and money too. Another benefit: Reheating last night’s dinner will probably consume less energy than cooking a new meal from scratch.
10. Choose reusable coffee equipment.
If you pick up your coffee on the go, bring a reusable coffee cup along. If you make it at home, consider coffeemakers, a French press, or a percolator, which comes with its own mesh filters.

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