“Greening” Your Kitchen with These 5 Steps

Guest Writer, Maggie Baker

The kitchen is commonly cited as people’s favorite room, but it is one of the least eco-friendly rooms in the average home. Most people never consider the environmental impacts of their kitchen when cooking or cleaning, so most kitchens are nowhere near as green as they could be. Making your kitchen environmentally friendly doesn’t require an extraordinary amount of time or money, and with some simple changes, you can easily turn your kitchen green. Combining small changes with larger green projects, like solar energy, can lead to even greater benefits for both you and the planet. 

Solar Powered

Regardless of what is in your kitchen or how you use it, you need electricity. Standard homes are tied to an electrical grid and energy usage comes with a monthly bill, but this is not a renewable or sustainable system. Homeowners are adding solar panels to reduce their energy bills while being environmentally friendly.

Solar panels generate energy when sunlight hits photovoltaic silicon cells, which allows photons to knock electrons free from atoms creating electricity and the energy is either used or stored for later. Roof-mounted solar panels are the most common way homeowners add solar energy to their homes and the barriers to entry are shrinking every year as many governments offer incentives or tax credits for going solar. The cost of adding solar energy to your home depends on the size of your desired solar panel system with the average price ranging from $10,000 to $18,000. Most solar panel systems do not entirely eliminate a household’s monthly energy bill, but they can greatly reduce it. Calculating your potential savings depends on many factors, and you should talk with a professional consultant to determine the components of your unique situation.

Stand the Test of Time

When you are outfitting your kitchen, it can be tempting to buy cheap utensils, pots, and pans, but this is not financially or environmentally advised. If you buy a cheap non-stick pan, there is a high likelihood you will need to replace that pan sooner than a higher quality pan. A cast-iron pan might be expensive, but that pan can be passed down through generations because of its quality. Buying a poorly made product might save you money upfront, but will cost you more money in the long run.

Not only will buying higher quality tools save you money, but it helps save the planet. When cheap goods break, they are tossed into landfills and contribute to global waste. Many cheap kitchen tools contain toxic materials such as Teflon that cause environmental damage even after the tool is thrown out. 

Energy Star Appliances

Large kitchen appliances use a significant amount of energy, especially older models, but Energy Star appliances are the greenest option. Energy Star appliances are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be more energy-efficient than non-Energy Star appliances. While Energy Star appliances have a higher sticker price than traditional appliances, you will save money in the long run through energy savings.

You may think swapping out your old appliances with Energy Star appliances is the greenest option, but it is far more environmentally friendly to use your current appliances until they no longer function. Throwing out something that still works is wasteful, so use your current appliances until they reach the end of their life and then buy Energy Star replacements. Many communities have appliance take-back programs where professionals will take your dead appliances and properly dispose of hazardous materials.

Correct Wasteful Habits

Many homeowners have daily habits that they aren’t aware are environmentally harmful. Standing in front of your fridge with the door open trying to decide what to eat may seem harmless, but you are wasting energy by keeping your fridge open unnecessarily. Your fridge is constantly working to maintain a certain temperature and holding the doors open forces it to work harder and use more energy to stay at the set temperature.

Washing dishes by hand might seem like the green way of cleaning, but running a fully loaded dishwasher is more eco-friendly than washing the same amount of dishes by hand. A fully loaded dishwasher uses less water and energy than cleaning dishes by hand, but this is only true when your dishwasher is full. For smaller loads of dishes, cleaning them by hand is the green option. Turn off the heated dry option on your dishwasher and let your dishes air dry to save even more energy.

Making your kitchen more environmentally friendly doesn’t need to be complicated. Consider adding solar energy to your house to make your entire house greener. Buy quality kitchen tools that will stand the test of time, replace dead appliances with Energy Star alternatives, and fix wasteful habits to make your kitchen as eco-friendly as possible. 

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Be sure to check out my "Bee Kind" nature based character development unit and my ebooks as well: A Wife's Guide to Studying ProverbsTopical Devotions for Pregnancy and Early Potty Teaching. Or, if you're looking for a way to get 30 raw fruits and vegetables in your diet every day, contact me here

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