It’s no secret that we are putting pressure on our world’s already limited natural resources. Although it may seem that doing small ‘green’ things – like turning off a dripping faucet or switching off appliances instead of keeping then on stand by – is not enough, a little help can do far more good than we can imagine. If you’re planning a renovation or are moving into a new home, here are a few ways to make the kitchen eco-friendly as well.

Appliances

Buy appliances that are certified with an Energy Star label as they reduce energy usage by up to 50 per cent and limit carbon dioxide emissions as well. Also, turn devices like the microwave, cooker and water heater off when not in use as being on stand by means they are still silently draining electricity.

Ovens

The code word here is convection – not convention. Convection ovens – whether in a gas or electric stove – are more desirable as the fan it comes fitted with distributes heat more uniformly helping cook food evenly and speeding up cooking time. A bonus addition is the fact that fast cooking means more nutrients in the food are preserved.

Flooring

One of the top choices is wood but it needs to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to ensure it’s ethically sound and ‘green’ as well. Bamboo and cork are other common options but the most resilient would have to be linoleum, which is scratch resistant and has a life span of up to 40 years. Crafted from a mixture of cork powder, linseed oil and wood it’s also naturally biodegradable.

Cabinets

Commercial particle board may be an easy choice but should be avoided as the glue is highly toxic and can cause an allergic reaction in some. Instead choose, solid wood for cabinets, which are more durable and use a natural finish like linseed oil and water-based adhesives. Other ‘green’ options include bamboo and all-paper melamine.

CountertopsLocally harvested granite and limestone are good natural options and are long-lasting as well. If you like colour, ceramic tiles are easy to match to your colour scheme and add a rustic feel. Newer choices include recycled paper and glass that are resin and epoxy free and don’t emit chemicals into the atmosphere.

LightingOpen up the curtains and take advantage of the natural light. Have work tops positioned in front of a window so you can prep ingredients without having to use artificial light. Trade in the conventional bulbs for energy-saving fluorescents as they cut energy usage by up to 50 per cent.

Cleaning

A clean kitchen is a safe kitchen but it’s also important to make sure it’s chemical free since food is being handled here. Pick up plant-based cleansers that use natural ingredients like aloe vera and vegetable oil that are biodegradable or try making your own natural products using kitchen staples like lemon juice, vinegar and baking soda.

Storage

Keep food safe by storing them in glass and ceramic rather than plastic containers. Not only are they both biodegradable but they’re easier to clean as well as they don’t stain or retain odours. If you prefer disposable containers make sure they are made from natural fibres like bamboo or recyclable paper.

Shopping

Unless you live walking distance from the store, bulk shop on weekends to prevent endless trips for forgotten ingredients. Items like canned vegetables, lentils, flour and sugar can be bought in larger quantities and stored in the pantry. A single gallon of petrol releases 10 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere so make a shopping list in advance that’ll ensure you don’t have to go back a second time.

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