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How To Make Your Kitchen A More Environmentally Friendly Place

A report released by the United Nations (UN) earlier this year indicated that it’s “now or never” in the fight against climate change. Upon releasing the report, UN Secretary General, António Guterres, warned that “we are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degree (Celsius) limit” that countries agreed to in Paris in 2015. And while this warning has been issued to countries as a whole, there are various things that we as individuals can do in our everyday lives to fight climate change. For starters, we can make our kitchens more environmentally friendly. Here’s how. 

Switch out your appliances for energy-saving alternatives 

Some of the appliances in your home use more energy than others, so make eco-conscious decisions and opt for energy-saving alternatives where you can. “Air conditioning and heating units are the most expensive electricity users in the home. Instead of keeping these running at all times, only use these appliances when absolutely necessary,” says Jonathan Hurvitz, CEO of Teljoy. “Consider renting energy-efficient appliances that you need only for the current season instead of making an expensive once-off purchase. This gives you the flexibility to use the appliance for as long (or as little) as you like, with the option to take ownership at the end of the term. Plus you can rest easy knowing that maintenance and risk cover are included as part of the monthly cost.”

As an alternative to cranking up the heating during winter, create a cosy nook in your home with plenty of blankets and a fireplace or gas heater to keep toasty when the mercury plummets. Paying a monthly subscription fee for the appliances and electronics you need for your home can free up the budget to spend on other things, like electricity or petrol…or that winter jacket you’ve been eyeing.

Make small changes in your electricity consumption  

Interrogate your monthly electricity bill so that you have an idea of your monthly energy consumption. The account will show your usage in kilowatt-hours (kWh), giving you an indication of your overall electricity usage.

“Reduce your energy bill by making small changes”, says Matthew Cruise, lead campaign manager of Hohm Energy. “This may mean switching to LED bulbs or changing the timer on your geyser so that it only heats up when you expect to need warm water.” A geyser can account for 40 to 60% of your electricity bill each month. By installing a geyser timer, you can regulate that the geyser is off during peak times. A geyser blanket will maintain the heat in your geyser, so that it does not need to be switched on as often. 

Harnessing solar energy to provide you free electricity will also save on your electricity bills. “The most cost-effective solar system for residential use is a grid-tied solar and battery system, which is installed to be tied to the grid or network.” says Cruise. “This means you only rely on the grid for power during off-peak times at night, or when the weather is overcast.”

Cook with in-season ingredients

Using in-season fruits and vegetables in your dishes is an excellent way to almost immediately reduce your carbon footprint, says Chef Norman Heath of Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront. 

“In-season fresh produce is also locally sourced, thereby reducing transportation costs as nothing needs to be imported,” notes Chef Norman “And, you will be supporting local farms, local markets and local employment all with this one choice to buy in-season. As a restaurant and hotel, we also save money by buying local, in-season products and we pass these savings on to our patrons”. 

And if this is not enough to convince you, it’s worth mentioning that fruit and vegetables that are in-season taste much better than those that have been imported. Chef Norman explains: “This produce has ripened naturally in the conditions it is used to and without artificial interference.”

Use environmentally friendly cleaning products 

It used to be tough to find cleaning products that are more eco-friendly, but that’s not the case anymore. Retail outlets across the country now have a wide range of these products and many often don’t cost that much more than your regular cleaning products. 

Aisha Pandor of SweepSouth, a home services company, notes that there are a host of natural cleaning products on the market. If you have help cleaning around the house from someone like a SweepStar, you can leave these products out to ensure that they make use of them, too. She also points out that eco-friendly vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and lemon are all-natural cleaners for a multitude of things like smelly drains, stained coffee cups, chopping boards, and kitchen counters.

Purchase in bulk and compost your food scraps 

There are many benefits to purchasing food in bulk. The financial ones are the most obvious, but it’s also great for the environment. 

Bulk goods make use of less packaging and will result in you making fewer trips to the grocery store. This, of course, reduces your fuel usage which is good for the environment and, right now, certainly great for your pocket.

And when you prepare food at home, consider composting your food scraps. There are some cute countertop compost bins that you can use for this. You can then use this compost in your garden and on your plants. 

Invest in reusable or biodegradable food storage containers 

This ties into the buying in bulk advice given above. If you have a lot of food to freeze and store, definitely use reusable glass containers or biodegradable ones. Single-use plastic is doing a lot of irreversible damage to the environment. The UN Environmental Programme notes that “around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, while up to five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year”. You can do your part by using glass containers that can be recycled down the line or biodegradable ones that will decompose quickly back into the earth. Also, don’t forget to keep and reuse your shopping bags. 

These are just a few of the many steps that we can take to take better care of the environment. If enough people make just one or more of these small changes, imagine the difference that it can make down the line.