From a health perspective we are well aware that the quality of food and water that we put into our bodies has an immediate and accumulative effect on our health and wellbeing. But what about our plants? Here are some tips turn your kitchen into a more earth friendly environment:
1. Commit to the long haul
Wherever possible, invest in the very best kitchen appliances, pots, pans, knives etc you can afford. High quality items are more likely to last a lifetime, eliminating the need for multiple purchases and resources that go into their manufacture, packaging and transport. Opt for stainless steel and cast iron cookware, high quality knives that you can sharpen yourself and sturdy utensils.
2. Grow your own
If you have the space, grow your own herbs and vegetables, and even if you don’t you can sprout a few cherry tomatoes, Asian greens, spinach and the like in pots and containers. It’s the best way to ensure that your produce is fresh and insecticide free. Buy a small compost or worm bin and cut down on waste by composting organic kitchen scraps. Alternatively support your local farmers market or old school fruit and veg shop.
3. Make your own (healthy) cleaning products
Make like grandma and whip up your own cleaning products using lemon, white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Vinegar can be used in place of fabric softener and when mixed into a paste with bicard works as a stain remover. Put a splash of vinegar into 500ml of water and use to clean mirrors and windows. Mix lemon with salt and use as a scrub on pots and pans. To disenfect a chopping board rub a slice of lemon over it, for stains squeeze lemon juice on to the spot and leave it for 10 minutes before wiping. To disenfect sponges and cleaning cloths put them into the microwave for 980 seconds on high. Alternatively use earth friendly cleaning brands from Woolworths, Pick n Pay or other major retailers.
4. Become water wise
Instead of buying bottled water invest in a quality water filter and buy glass bottles to fill for work or gym. It’s cheaper and far more earth friendly in the long run.
5. Make friends with Eskom
With a little bit of forward planning you can save electricity when cooking your evening meal. For starters cook more than one thing at a time. Extra food can be warmed up in the microwave and eaten during the week. Make use of a small grill oven for smaller items. Use properly sized pots on your stove, for example by using a small pot on a large stove element you are wasting heat. When bringing water or food to the boil close the pot with a lid to reduce coooking time. Consider using a pressure cooker. They reduce cooking time by up to 70%. Also forget pre-heating, most modern ovens come to the correct temperature so quickly you can place your titems in straight away. Turn the oven off about 10 minutes before you take the food out to allow it to cook in the residual heat.
6. Reduce, re-use, recycle
This is particularly relevant when it comes to packaging. Use your own cloth shopping bags instead of packets. Try to buy individual food items that aren’t pre-packaged and in the event that you can’t re-use or recycle glass, plastic or cardboard packaging.
7. Don’t be wishy washy
Contrary to common belief a modern, energy efficient dishwasher uses less water and energy than if you were to wash a full load by hand. This only applies, however, if the dishwasher is run when full. As an added green measure skip the heat dry cycle and let the dishes air dry or hand dry them yourself.
For more kitchen inspiration, see our April 2015 issue of House and Leisure magazine.