Have you ever experienced “green guilt”? I’m guessing you have, unless you live under a rock (which would actually be an excellent example of green living, now that I think of it). Green guilt occurs when you do something for enjoyment, convenience or necessity that is potentially damaging to the environment. You know, like when you toss that Coke can in the trash because the nearest recycling bin is next to your creepy uncle Bob at the family picnic. Green guilt can overtake you anywhere, but in your home, it’s most likely to hit you in the kitchen. Luckily there are ways to combat this, and maybe even save a few bucks in the process.
In greening your kitchen, the first thing you want to look at is your appliances. If they’re more than 10 years old, you may do more good for your wallet and the environment in the long run by replacing them. Modern appliances are tremendously energy efficient, and upgrading an energy waster like an old refrigerator can be a major savings on your electric bill. Another tip, as suggested in an online article from Food Service Warehouse, is to use a griddle instead of a broiler. Griddles use much less energy, particularly when they are kept clean. There are even special green stoves and griddles that use resources like steam or infra-red burners to save energy. Using alternative energy like residential solar to power your appliances can also save money and carbon emissions.
Green Tips and Tricks
According to an article on treehugger.com, preheating is a major waste of energy. Modern ovens heat up quickly and maintain heat well, so you can just put your food in the oven right away and then actually shut the oven off five or ten minutes before the time is up, letting the heat already in the oven finish the cooking for you. Cooking two things simultaneously in an oven is another great energy saver. Make sure that lids fit tightly on cooking pans and dishes and avoid Teflon pans. They don’t last as long as stainless steel or cast iron and will be occupying a landfill just a few years after you purchase them.
Eat Your “Greens”
To eat truly “green” food, your best bet is to buy local. Ideally, this would mean picking your own apples and buying your tomatoes off the back of a truck from a guy named Cletus, but for most of us, the best we can do is to look for the labels in the store that tell us that something came from a local farm. If you think about the environmental cost of flying in star fruit from the Amazon basin in January, those canned peaches from the next town over don’t sound so bad anymore. Another way to be green when buying food is to buy in bulk, which saves you some green and also reduces the amount of packaging you have to throw away when the food is gone.
Doing what you can to keep your kitchen from wasting too much energy can help to keep you from wasting too much money, too. With a few minor adjustments, you can keep your kitchen green and guilt free.