Find out how to keep your kitchen sustainable and environmentally-friendly from Primrose Matheson of Primrose’s Kitchen
We hear the word sustainable a lot these days, but what does it mean? Defined as “causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time”, how can sustainability be applied to our kitchens? What choices can we make here to limit our negative effect on the environment? The biggest ways in which I believe we can reduce our impact on the environment within our kitchens is through packaging, cleaning products, food sourcing and food waste:
The food we buy has more packaging on it than ever before, especially in supermarkets. Finding ways to eliminate this from our lives can be hard. Clearly, processed foods have the most packaging. The more we process food the less healthy it is for our bodies and for the planet. More processing means more factory production, more chemicals, often more sugar, more preservatives, and more shipping. Try changing your diet and your impact for the better by choosing fewer processed foods and more whole foods whenever possible.
Read the Ingredients
When shopping for food, read the ingredients list. Look for products that containing whole foods and just a few ingredients. Avoid ingredient lists that include chemicals or items you can’t pronounce or don’t recognise. Keep things pure and simple. Processed foods are designed to be addictive. By sticking to whole foods, your taste buds will quickly adapt and begin to appreciate the amazing taste of fresh fruits and vegetables. Bear in mind that the fruits and vegetables that taste the best are often the ones that contain the most nutrients.
When you eat what is grown locally and in season, you are eating more nutrient dense foods, decreasing the demand for food from other regions, reducing food miles, contributing to the local economy, and shrinking your carbon footprint.
Reduce Food Waste
Globally, over 1.3 billion tons of food is thrown away every year. Over 51% of the rubbish going to landfills is compostable, including food scraps, paper, garden trimmings, and wood. The environmental costs of food waste worldwide are staggering, and 3.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere each year through the production, harvesting, transporting, and packaging of wasted food. Even more troubling, once food waste reaches the landfills, it begins to decompose and emit methane gas. Methane has 21 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide, meaning it has an even greater impact on global warming than CO2. You can reduce your food waste by buying only what you need. Take responsibility for your food scraps by returning these nutrient-dense items to the earth. Composting fertilizes future plants, clears space in landfills, and dramatically reduces your personal greenhouse gas emissions.
Choose Meat Wisely
Animals are an essential part of the nutrient cycle, and managing them properly within our agricultural systems is critical for restoring soils and balancing the climate.
Worldwide, land is being deforested to support herds of grazing animals, disrupting natural ecosystems. Whenever possible, choose meat that has been grass fed by farmers who support regenerative farming practises.
The cleaning products in our kitchen contain hidden nasties which are bad for our health or the environment. Did you know the average home contains 62 toxic chemicals? Of those 62, the eight that are most commonly used are phthalates, perchloroethylene, triclosan, QUATS, 2-butoxyethanol, ammonia, chlorine, and sodium hydroxide. These are known endocrine disruptors, irritants, can cause damage to vital organs, and promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
My advice is to remove these from your kitchen – or anywhere in your house for that matter – and try a natural replacement like the following:
Tea Tree Oil – As an alternative to chemical disinfectants and sanitizers, try antibacterial and antifungal tea tree oil. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil and a tablespoon of vinegar with water in a spray bottle for a safe, germ-killing, all-purpose cleaner. Add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil for scent.
Vinegar – This is a great all-purpose cleaner and works well on mirrors and windows. Vinegar also acts as a fabric softener; just add a teaspoon to your washing machine. To create your own citrus surface cleaner, save up your lemon or orange peels, add vinegar and let the mixture sit for two weeks before using.
Baking Soda – Another natural cleaning agent ideal for scrubbing kitchen surfaces and as an oven cleaner.
Creating a more sustainable kitchen and indeed a more sustainable home is an ongoing process that doesn’t happen overnight. Implement small things slowly, which, over time, will make a real difference.