Below, we’ve listed and explained some potential ways to be more sustainable in the kitchen.
We cover different aspects of the kitchen, such as food waste and food storage, kitchen appliances and fixtures, plastic waste and the use of reusable products, kitchen cleaning and washing, and more.
Implementing more sustainable ideas and practices in the kitchen may be part of an overall strategy to have a more sustainable home.
1. Plan & Carry Out Food Shopping More Effectively (& Sustainably)
This may involve doing a smaller number of trips to the shop in the car to get a larger amount of the weekly food shopping, as opposed to doing a greater number of small food shopping trips per week.
Using reusable bags for food shopping instead of single use bags, and not requesting shopping receipts or catalogues if they aren’t required, can both help cut down on waste.
Walking or riding to the shops when practical (and taking bags with you) may also be more sustainable than always using a car.
2. Consider The Potential Sustainability Of The Food You Buy
Some reports indicate that a plant based diet may be more sustainable than a diet with more animal meats and animal products in them (although, individuals should eat a diet that is safe and healthy for them individually, and consult a health professional for an expert opinion on the matter)
Beyond that, some types of food may spoil more quickly than others if not eaten sooner after purchase
Some fresh foods for example may spoil more quickly and end up becoming food waste at a greater rate (especially if not stored properly)
Some processed/packaged foods or tinned foods may last longer and waste at lower rates.
So, consider how quickly you’ll eat the food you buy.
You may buy ‘slower to spoil’ foods if you want something that will have a longer shelf life
Additionally, buying foods that are grown and processed locally may cut down on the transport footprint of foods
Some people may even choose to grow some of their own food (like herbs, spices, and easy/efficient to grow fruits or vegetables) at home where practical
3. Store Food In A Way So That It Lasts Longer
This particularly applies to fresh foods (like vegetables and fruits), and meats.
Putting these foods in the fridge or freezer, or putting them in bags or food storage containers can help them last longer.
Cooking them in soups and other meals and freezing them can be another way to help them last longer.
Some foods also come canned, and may store for much longer than fresh foods.
4. Consider Sustainable Cooking & Food Preparation Practices
Some foods can be prepared for a snack or meal with no cooking at all. So, there’s no energy or other resources used that would otherwise be used for cooking.
A salad might be an example of this.
Where cooking is required for food preparation, some practices that might result in more sustainable cooking might involve:
– Using more sustainable energy for cooking appliances
This energy may come from a home renewable energy setup for example
– Using a gas cooktop over an electric cooktop that uses mostly coal as an energy source
– Being mindful about excessive or unnecessary waste whilst preparing and cooking food
– Bulk cook food where possible instead of cooking every night, and cut down on overall cooking time i.e. being more efficient with the cooking you do
5. Reduce Food Waste
Food waste in the kitchen might come from the preparation of food, and also from uneaten prepared foods and meals.
Reducing food waste might involve:
– Being mindful of unnecessary food waste when preparing foods and meals, and reducing it
– Intentionally only preparing food that you know you’ll eat
– Storing, refrigerating, or freezing food leftovers and eating them later
6. Dispose Of Organic Food Waste & Kitchen Waste Properly
Disposing of organic food waste and kitchen waste in a sustainable way might include:
– Disposing of it to an organic waste bin if your municipality provides one
– Disposing of it to a kitchen composting machine if you have one
– Disposing of it to an outdoor compost heap if you have one
– Feeding some types of leftover food to the family pet if safe and OK to do so
7. Reduce Single Use Waste
There might be a number of ways to reduce single use waste in the kitchen, such as:
– Using reusable and washable food storage containers
There might be a couple of different applications to do this
One application might be taking glass or metal containers to zero waste stores and filling up on different foods and condiments
Another option might be using a reusable and washable food storage box (or lunch box) instead of cling wrap to transport or store food
– Using reusable and washable cloths vs paper towels where possible
For wiping down dishes, benches, etc.
– Using reusable and washable plates, cutlery and cups where possible instead of single use plates, cutlery and cups
Reusable and washable plates could be ceramic
Cutlery could be metal/steel, or even wood/bamboo
Cups could be hardened reusable plastic, or glass
8. Implement More Sustainable Kitchen Washing & Cleaning Practices
– Depending on which one is more sustainable, consider whether it’s better to wash dishes in the sink, or use a water and energy efficient dishwasher
If using a dishwasher, pack the dishwasher full instead of doing partial loads
– Buy an eco friendly dish washing liquid, and multi purpose cleaner/all purpose cleaner where practical
– Use reusable and washable kitchen cleaning cloths and tea towels vs using single use paper towels where practical
– Use eco friendly sponges and cleaning brushes where practical
– Use refillable glass containers or refillable bottles for holding kitchen cleaning and washing liquids, instead of using single use plastic bottles
9. Use More Sustainable & Eco Friendly Kitchen Products Elsewhere Where Possible
There might be several examples of this, such as:
– Buy cookware that will last longer, so you don’t have to replace it as often
One example might be buying stainless cookware over cheap or less durable aluminium or teflon cookware
– Using beeswax wrap instead of plastic cling wrap for some applications
– Using biodegradable or compostable bin liners instead of plastic liners
– Repurposing household items in the kitchen where possible
What About Designing, Creating & Building A Sustainable Kitchen?
Aside from implementing sustainable practices in an existing kitchen, there are ways to potentially design and build a more sustainable kitchen if you’re getting a new kitchen, or remodelling/renovating parts of an existing kitchen.
Some of these things might include:
– Selecting kitchen appliances, devices and fixtures that are energy efficient, water efficient, or sustainable in some other aspect
Ovens, cooktops, microwaves, fridges, freezers, dishwashers, faucets, and even lighting are examples of this
They might have star ratings for energy efficiency, water efficiency, and so on
– Choosing sustainable materials for kitchen cabinets and joinery
Recycled or reclaimed materials may be an example of this
Sustainably sourced and low VOC cabinetry might be another
An alternate approach to picking sustainable materials might be choosing cabinets and joinery that are constructed to be durable and last decades, instead of choosing cabinets that have a shorter lifespan
1. Various ‘Better Meets Reality’ guides