Going Green in the Kitchen

Reviewed Oct 10, 2017

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Summary

  • Reduce food waste—watch expiration dates.
  • Reduce energy with smart appliance use.
  • Run the dishwasher only when it is full.

Chances are if you’re into the “green” movement, you already know how to “go green” when shopping for food:

  • Buy organic
  • Buy local
  • Buy in-season produce

But being eco-friendly can include what you do with the food once you get it home—in terms of storage, cooking, and clean-up. Here are some ways to be more green in the kitchen.

Reduce waste

U.S. households throw away uneaten food for many reasons, including expired sell-by dates. Such food waste means not only a waste of money, but also of resources (water, energy, fuel) that went into food production.

A key factor in reducing food waste is wise storage of foods. A good place to start is in the refrigerator, since that’s where most perishable food is stored. Try these tips:

  • Keep foods that may spoil in the front and center of the fridge, where they can be easily seen.
  • Separate items you plan to use right away and freeze the rest.
  • Date your foods; check the fridge every three days or so to ensure use of items while they’re still fresh.
  • Keep foods cold enough. The fridge should stay between 35° F and 40° F; the freezer at 0° F.

Reduce energy

The refrigerator often consumes more energy than other kitchen appliances. To ensure that you’re not wasting energy:

  • Keep the freezer full. Add bags with water to make ice if you need to fill empty space.
  • Avoid overcrowding the fridge. Allow air to move around foods.
  • Cover foods; uncovered items release moisture, making your fridge work harder.
  • Let hot foods cool before storing them in the fridge.
  • Don’t linger at the door: The less you keep the doors open, the less energy your fridge and freezer will use.

Cook smart

Another way to eat green is to cook meals from scratch at home, avoiding the use of pre-packaged items. Here are some simple ways to save energy while cooking, based on method.

Stovetop

  • Use the right-sized pot for your meal and for the stove. Energy Star reports that a 6" pot on an 8" burner wastes more than 40 percent of the burner's heat.
  • Cover pots and pans to speed cooking and keep heat in.
  • If you have a gas range, keep burners clean to ensure top efficiency.

Oven

  • In general, less energy is used by smaller ovens. Use a toaster oven or microwave to reheat or cook small portions.
  • Don’t preheat the oven for food that will cook for a long time.
  • Turn off the oven 15 minutes before the recipe indicates. The oven will retain enough heat to finish the cooking process.
  • Keep the door closed. Opening the oven door can reduce the temperature by up to 25 degrees. Use a timer, and keep your oven window clean so that you can check on your dish.

Clever clean-up

Even after the meal, there are ways you can keep saving energy. When doing dishes, consider that running a full dishwasher is more efficient than washing dishes by hand. So wait until you have a full load before running your dishwasher, and enjoy a reprieve from hand washing!

Prior to loading the dishwasher, scrape, rather than rinse, dishes to save water. When running the dishwasher, use the air-dry option if possible.

And consider composting food scraps. Composting fruit and vegetable scraps will not only help the environment, but you can use the end product as a fertilizer for your lawn or garden.

Resources

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
www.aceee.org

Energy Star
www.energystar.gov 

By Judy Galliher
Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Energy Star, European Environment Agency, Rocky Mountain Institute, Salt River Project, Union of Concerned Scientists

Summary

  • Reduce food waste—watch expiration dates.
  • Reduce energy with smart appliance use.
  • Run the dishwasher only when it is full.

Chances are if you’re into the “green” movement, you already know how to “go green” when shopping for food:

  • Buy organic
  • Buy local
  • Buy in-season produce

But being eco-friendly can include what you do with the food once you get it home—in terms of storage, cooking, and clean-up. Here are some ways to be more green in the kitchen.

Reduce waste

U.S. households throw away uneaten food for many reasons, including expired sell-by dates. Such food waste means not only a waste of money, but also of resources (water, energy, fuel) that went into food production.

A key factor in reducing food waste is wise storage of foods. A good place to start is in the refrigerator, since that’s where most perishable food is stored. Try these tips:

  • Keep foods that may spoil in the front and center of the fridge, where they can be easily seen.
  • Separate items you plan to use right away and freeze the rest.
  • Date your foods; check the fridge every three days or so to ensure use of items while they’re still fresh.
  • Keep foods cold enough. The fridge should stay between 35° F and 40° F; the freezer at 0° F.

Reduce energy

The refrigerator often consumes more energy than other kitchen appliances. To ensure that you’re not wasting energy:

  • Keep the freezer full. Add bags with water to make ice if you need to fill empty space.
  • Avoid overcrowding the fridge. Allow air to move around foods.
  • Cover foods; uncovered items release moisture, making your fridge work harder.
  • Let hot foods cool before storing them in the fridge.
  • Don’t linger at the door: The less you keep the doors open, the less energy your fridge and freezer will use.

Cook smart

Another way to eat green is to cook meals from scratch at home, avoiding the use of pre-packaged items. Here are some simple ways to save energy while cooking, based on method.

Stovetop

  • Use the right-sized pot for your meal and for the stove. Energy Star reports that a 6" pot on an 8" burner wastes more than 40 percent of the burner's heat.
  • Cover pots and pans to speed cooking and keep heat in.
  • If you have a gas range, keep burners clean to ensure top efficiency.

Oven

  • In general, less energy is used by smaller ovens. Use a toaster oven or microwave to reheat or cook small portions.
  • Don’t preheat the oven for food that will cook for a long time.
  • Turn off the oven 15 minutes before the recipe indicates. The oven will retain enough heat to finish the cooking process.
  • Keep the door closed. Opening the oven door can reduce the temperature by up to 25 degrees. Use a timer, and keep your oven window clean so that you can check on your dish.

Clever clean-up

Even after the meal, there are ways you can keep saving energy. When doing dishes, consider that running a full dishwasher is more efficient than washing dishes by hand. So wait until you have a full load before running your dishwasher, and enjoy a reprieve from hand washing!

Prior to loading the dishwasher, scrape, rather than rinse, dishes to save water. When running the dishwasher, use the air-dry option if possible.

And consider composting food scraps. Composting fruit and vegetable scraps will not only help the environment, but you can use the end product as a fertilizer for your lawn or garden.

Resources

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
www.aceee.org

Energy Star
www.energystar.gov 

By Judy Galliher
Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Energy Star, European Environment Agency, Rocky Mountain Institute, Salt River Project, Union of Concerned Scientists

Summary

  • Reduce food waste—watch expiration dates.
  • Reduce energy with smart appliance use.
  • Run the dishwasher only when it is full.

Chances are if you’re into the “green” movement, you already know how to “go green” when shopping for food:

  • Buy organic
  • Buy local
  • Buy in-season produce

But being eco-friendly can include what you do with the food once you get it home—in terms of storage, cooking, and clean-up. Here are some ways to be more green in the kitchen.

Reduce waste

U.S. households throw away uneaten food for many reasons, including expired sell-by dates. Such food waste means not only a waste of money, but also of resources (water, energy, fuel) that went into food production.

A key factor in reducing food waste is wise storage of foods. A good place to start is in the refrigerator, since that’s where most perishable food is stored. Try these tips:

  • Keep foods that may spoil in the front and center of the fridge, where they can be easily seen.
  • Separate items you plan to use right away and freeze the rest.
  • Date your foods; check the fridge every three days or so to ensure use of items while they’re still fresh.
  • Keep foods cold enough. The fridge should stay between 35° F and 40° F; the freezer at 0° F.

Reduce energy

The refrigerator often consumes more energy than other kitchen appliances. To ensure that you’re not wasting energy:

  • Keep the freezer full. Add bags with water to make ice if you need to fill empty space.
  • Avoid overcrowding the fridge. Allow air to move around foods.
  • Cover foods; uncovered items release moisture, making your fridge work harder.
  • Let hot foods cool before storing them in the fridge.
  • Don’t linger at the door: The less you keep the doors open, the less energy your fridge and freezer will use.

Cook smart

Another way to eat green is to cook meals from scratch at home, avoiding the use of pre-packaged items. Here are some simple ways to save energy while cooking, based on method.

Stovetop

  • Use the right-sized pot for your meal and for the stove. Energy Star reports that a 6" pot on an 8" burner wastes more than 40 percent of the burner's heat.
  • Cover pots and pans to speed cooking and keep heat in.
  • If you have a gas range, keep burners clean to ensure top efficiency.

Oven

  • In general, less energy is used by smaller ovens. Use a toaster oven or microwave to reheat or cook small portions.
  • Don’t preheat the oven for food that will cook for a long time.
  • Turn off the oven 15 minutes before the recipe indicates. The oven will retain enough heat to finish the cooking process.
  • Keep the door closed. Opening the oven door can reduce the temperature by up to 25 degrees. Use a timer, and keep your oven window clean so that you can check on your dish.

Clever clean-up

Even after the meal, there are ways you can keep saving energy. When doing dishes, consider that running a full dishwasher is more efficient than washing dishes by hand. So wait until you have a full load before running your dishwasher, and enjoy a reprieve from hand washing!

Prior to loading the dishwasher, scrape, rather than rinse, dishes to save water. When running the dishwasher, use the air-dry option if possible.

And consider composting food scraps. Composting fruit and vegetable scraps will not only help the environment, but you can use the end product as a fertilizer for your lawn or garden.

Resources

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
www.aceee.org

Energy Star
www.energystar.gov 

By Judy Galliher
Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Energy Star, European Environment Agency, Rocky Mountain Institute, Salt River Project, Union of Concerned Scientists

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