The kitchen is the heart of many homes and often where family and friends gravitate to. It is also the room in the house that often is in most need of an Eco-makeover. Many of us are very conscious of making sure that the food that is made in our kitchens is healthy and nourishing. How about making sure that the kitchen itself is equally healthy? Read on if you would like to find out 6 easy ways you can Eco-makeover your kitchen today.
Eco-makeover your kitchen:
I love cooking and the kitchen has long been my happy place. I love to pour a glass of wine, open up a cook book and create something special for my family. Being a nurse, health and wellbeing has always been important to me and I make an effort to ensure that the majority of the food coming into and being made in my kitchen, is nourishing and healthy. I think most Mums are the same.
Recently I read a post about having a healthy kitchen. I had falsely assumed that meant the food within it. However it actually referred to the kitchen itself. Have you ever considered the health of your kitchen? I certainly hadn’t and I will admit that my kitchen falls short in many areas. So in order to help us all improve the health of our kitchens, ourselves and Mother Nature, i have put together a list of six things you can do right now to Eco-makeover your kitchen.
Buy Quality That Lasts:
I am definitely guilty of this one. I admit to having shiny things syndrome and wanting to buy all the latest pretty things and gadgets for my kitchen. However my budget doesn’t always allow for this and I will then buy the cheaper look-a-like, or that on-trend trinket, knowing full well that in a years time I won’t want it anymore because fashion has moved on. So what happens to those bits and bobs we buy but don’t actually need? They get tossed in the trash and get added to landfill. The cheap look-a-like gadget in most cases breaks after a short time and also ends up in the trash.
Society today unfortunately has a very temporary, throw away mentality. So much unnecessary ‘stuff’ ends up being thrown out and dumped into our growing landfill piles daily. A much healthier option for poor Mother Nature and a good step to Eco-makeover your kitchen, is to buy only what you need and buy quality that will last. Many people from my parents and Grandparents generation still have the same pots and pans that were given to them on their wedding day. Buy quality and if you look after them well, they will last the test of time. Go for longevity rather then the quick fix.
I am definitely not suggesting that you go out and buy all new appliances. However, if you are in the market for a new dishwasher, fridge or oven, look out for appliances that are energy and water efficient. Some of the newer dishwashers actually use less water than you would filling the sink. Less efficient machines may cost less and be tempting for the cost savings. However, think of the longevity of the machine and the effect that decreased efficiency has on natural resources.
Not many of us are very good at maintaining our appliances on a regular basis. When was the last time you did a deep clean on your dishwasher, spring cleaned the fridge or sorted out the depths of the deep freeze? Proper care and maintenance of your appliances not only helps to extend their life, but ensures that they are operating at their most efficient.
Many people assume that natural resources such as water and gas are of endless supply and therefore use then with abandon. This is not necessarily the case and unless we all take steps to ensure that we use these resources responsibly, they may not always be available to us. Ensuring that your appliances are kept in top running order is a great step to Eco-makeover your kitchen. If you have not given your dishwasher a deep clean lately, you can read here how easy it is to do with just one ingredient that you probably already have in your pantry.
Cook from Scratch
Wander around any supermarket and you will see isle upon isle of prepackaged, instant, processed food. Heavily processed food is not only bad for our health but it is a poor environmental choice as well. Therefore, if you are going to Eco-makeover your kitchen, then cooking food from organic, raw ingredients is a good place to start.
The manufacturing process involved to create the finished product you see on the supermarket shelves uses a lot of energy and water. Resources that we should be actively trying to preserve. The finished product is then often packaged in more than one layer of either plastic, cardboard or both. All of which ends of in landfill. More resources are utilized in storing and transporting the products all over the country and sometimes all around the world.
Stop and think for a minute how many resources would be saved by simply taking natural, raw ingredients that you have sourced locally and cooking them yourself from scratch.
We now know that not reaching for the pre=packaged, processed foods when getting your weekly groceries is a great start to Eco-makeover your kitchen. However, shopping smarter is just as important.
Where you can, go local. Visit your local farmers market, fruit and vege shop, Ma and Pa butchery, bakery etc. The food will not only be of a higher quality, but you will be supporting local families and businesses with your purchases as well.
Look for and choose organic where budget and availability allows. The more we support local, organic growers the more we send a very clear message to food producers that we do not want pesticides, fungicides or other chemicals in our food chain any longer.
When you do choose to buy products not able to be grown locally, like coffee and rice. Make your choices count. Opt for Fair Trade and organic. Think about the manufacturing of the goods you are buying. For example, the processes involved in turning brown rice into white rice involves the use of large amounts of water. A precious natural resource. Buying brown rice is healthier for your body and for the environment.
Go Natural in the Kitchen:
Kitchens are a place where a lot of activity happens. They can get mucky and messy pretty quickly in a busy household. Most of us have a heap of different cleaning products to keep our kitchens looking clean and sparkling. Commercial cleaning products are bad for our own health and that of the environment. Therefore, ditching the synthetic chemicals out of your kitchen is an important step if you want to Eco-makeover your kitchen.
The chemicals found in cleaning products can have a chronic effect on our health with repeated use of time. They can also cause acute reactions in some people just on contact. I have written several blog posts on the health implications of specific products such as dishwash liquid and laundry detergents which you can read about here
The chemicals found in cleaning products inevitably end up down our drains and enter into our water ways. There they can cause a myriad of problems from toxicity to marine life, over growth of algae in rivers and streams, to causing infertility in fish.
Simply ditch the cleaning products! They are not good for anyone. There are alternatives that are readily available and easy to use. You could choose to make your own products using ingredients that you can source easily from your local store, (I have a range of online guides full of recipes and tips which you can download right now. Get your copy here). Or let someone else do the work for you and buy ready made, natural, non-toxic products.
Going natural does not mean sacrificing on efficiency. In fact, I find that often the natural alternative works better. Here is what one of my customers has to say on this matter. “Who says natural cleaners don’t have enough oomph to work well? I’m obsessed with @the_green_housewife s products!! Month two of using her products and I am honestly in love! Safe enough to eat, her products are just amazing. Her Multipurpose spray cleans everything. Kitchen, bathroom, windows, mirrors… one spray. The whole damn house!”. (You can get your own bottle of my Citrus Multipurpose Spray by clicking here.)
Ditch the plastic:
Plastic is terrible for the environment. It simply doesn’t break down easily and finds its way into our natural surrounds. Animals and marine life mistake it for food causing catastrophic results. It can get entangled in birds feet and wings. There are many examples on the internet that outline just how destructive plastic is on the environment, Therefore, cutting back on our plastic footprint is a great step to Eco-makeover your kitchen.
I will be honest and admit that I have not rid my kitchen of all plastic as yet. We are definitely a work in progress. Some simple ways which we are trying to reduce the plastic in our kitchen are:
- When we need to replace plastic food containers, opting instead for a glass or ceramic alternative.
- Using Stainless Steel drink bottles.
- Buying fruit and vegetables not in plastic bags.
- Shopping at the local butcher, who wraps the meat in paper.
- Reusing old plastic cleaning product bottles to house new, homemade, natural cleaning products.
- Using natural beeswax food covers and wraps. You can easily make these yourself and they make a fantastic gift for friends. Here is a tutorial on how to make your own. Beeswax food wraps.
Have you ever considered the environmental health of your kitchen? Or have you taken steps to Eco-makeover your kitchen? If so I would love to hear about what you have done and what has worked for you. Please leave me a comment below.