Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Eight Top Kitchen Eco Tips

Robert from Flow Living is here to give you eight ways to improve your kitchen's eco "output", or rather, reduce your kitchen's waste output.
The kitchen is often to most-used room in the modern home, which also makes it possibly the most-abused in terms of energy usage. Have a read through these tips - I hope you can get something good from them!

Re-Use All Things

There are two overriding themes to been environmentally conscious: reducing waste, and re-using things where possible. You really can re-use a lot of kitchen waste, from using certain food wastes as compost to turning an old bin into a waterbutt, there's a lot of opportunity if you're the inventive type. If you're not the inventive type, think about the problems you currently have in your kitchen/garden. Is there a way you can help them by re-using something you consume on a regular (or irregular) basis? Necessity is the mother of invention, so solving a problem is perhaps where you should start. If that doesn't get you anywhere, there's always the artistic route - transform a part of your garden into a more creative space by painting old appliances, or building interesting sculptures out of old kitchen items.

Eat...Microwave Meals?

Okay this idea might be slightly controversial, because there's certainly something that feels more natural about cooking "properly" in a oven. But microwaves are more energy efficient. They're quick (that meal it takes an hour to heat in the oven only takes three in the microwave) and literally use less energy than a gas or electric oven.
If you have to use a stove to cook with, why not prepare food in bulk to then freeze. Then, when you're ready to eat it, reheat it in the microwave rather than on a stove.

Buy Recycled Goods

It's a no-brainer, isn't it? You buy recycled goods, which you then recycle, which then get bought by another as recycled goods, who then recycles - it's a lovely round recycling circle...or cycle. Whilst it's easy to conceive, it's slightly harder to implement. But it's all about getting into a mindset, thinking first about recycling: the next time you have to buy something, just ask yourself "is there a recycled version of this?"

Save Water

Hot water is an everyday necessity, for cooking, drinking, cleaning, and bathing. In the kitchen, you can cut down on the amount of hot water that you use, and the amount that you waste. "Waste" is the key here. It takes energy to heat water, so if you end up running the tap for slightly longer than you should, or pouring some hot water away then you're wasting energy. A good way to ensure you use less water overall, without having to concentrate so much, is to use a tap that has a slower flow. Having a nice looking kitchen tap to accompany your stylish undermount sink is one thing, but having a tap that saves you money, saves energy and still looks great is a greater thing.
Another quick water/energy saving tip: if you fill the kettle up to full every time, but don't use all of the water, then you're wasting energy every time you heat the kettle.

Save More Energy

So this nicely follows on from the previous tip. Due to your undoubtedly electricity-powered kitchen, there's a lot of energy usage. Think of all the appliances you have. Anything steam-powered? Hamster powered? Nope. Here are some quick tips, that also work throughout other areas of the house:
  • Use low-energy lightbulbs (compact fluorescent bulbs), including in side-lights and task lighting
  • Turn everything off when you're not using it (except the fridge/freezer, unless you want to have to eat all of your frozen food tomorrow)
  • Monitor your central heating - if the kitchen warms up when you use other appliances, do you need the central heating on as well?
  • Buy new appliances - this one will cost you money short-term, but save in efficiency over a longer period as newer appliances are generally more efficient
  • Using kitchen appliances elsewhere? Do they need to be switched on? That freezer in your garage might not be fully stocked, so can you transfer its contents and turn it off?

Outsource It!

Your best chance of succeeding with making your kitchen a more eco-aware is with you committing to the idea. But if you share the house with others (especially others of an under-18 and occasionally messy persuasion) then you're open to their input, whether you like it or not. Therefore if you convince your family to become advocates of your ideas, those ideas could go a long way.
Kids, when they believe something, often put a lot of energy behind their beliefs. If you lay out the reasons why you want to change the way you dispose of waste, pick the food you use and be aware of the impact of your decisions, your children will be better informed, better prepared and possibly better disciplined overall.

Finish Your Meals

Saying "don't throw things away" is too easy, too obvious, and not quite right. Most UK councils are stepping up their recycling programmes, which means that more of your home waste can be sorted into various recycling buckets. Or at least, that's the intention. However, if you can just produce less waste to start with, there's less to recycle. It does help if you have a "human dustbin" in the house, but, sincerely, weighing your food and working out who consumes what sort of quantity of food can go a very long way to reducing your overall waste, reducing food bills, cutting down the amount of packaging you use, trips to the supermarket etc. There's a whole big knock-on effect that starts with a simple thought and spreads out a long way from there.

Tell Everyone About Your Success

This is perhaps the best thing you can do: pay it forward. Spread the word. If you've seen "success" after implementing a green or eco policy in your kitchen, tell everyone about it. For every naysayer and pessimist you encounter, there may be one or two that you encourage to change the way they think about how their waste at home affects them and the wider world around them.
Do you have tips nine, ten and eleven? Please add them in the comments!

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