What is a green kitchen? Don't worry! You don't have to have counters made from recycled pop bottles and flooring of reclaimed wood, although that wouldn't hurt. For the average homeowner, it's about being more aware of saving energy and waste daily.
Compost easily by keeping a bucket on your counter. Handy little compost buckets with a lid and a handle for carrying can be found at retailers like Canadian Tire for $6.99.
The ultimate in recycling is taking place on my brother's farm — he fills up the composting buckets with food scraps and takes it right out to the pigs. Pigs aren't allowed in most city neighbourhoods, so you and I can stick to composting to make mulch for the garden. Compost food leftovers along with ground coffee, crushed eggshells and even dust or hair from your vacuum.
Stop relying on take out. Cook in batches; cook once and eat twice or thrice to conserve energy (yours and your appliances) and food waste. If you make a large batch of spaghetti sauce or homemade soup, freeze several meals – you'll thank yourself on the nights you're too tired to cook!
Make a real effort to engage in the process of preparing and eating meals. Cook seasonally and simply at home. Buy locally. Many areas offer a 'garden fresh box' which you can pick up in your neighbourhood monthly. They're filled with local fruits and vegetables for a small cost — mine costs $15 and is the size of a recycling bin spilling over with farm fresh vegetables.
By planning well, you can relish your leftovers and reduce food scraps. Leftovers are great in soups, stews and sandwiches. Come up with strategies to use food differently by visiting cooking websites such as Epicurious, Wellfed or the Star's recipe database.
Try natural ingredients instead of artificial dyes to tint frosting. For gorgeous pinks, stir in beet juice. Add blueberry juice to the pink, and it turns a fabulous purple. Or use a pinch of turmeric for bright yellow.
Try to eat meat-free once a week, because producing a pound of beef consumes 145 times more fossil fuels than a pound of potatoes. You will hardly notice the missing meat in tasty vegetable stir-fry, homemade vegetable soup or quesadillas.
Lose the wrapping. Why opt for cellophane-wrapped vegetables in their plastic trays, when you can buy them loose instead, which is, incidentally, a much cheaper option as well? By buying in bulk, you might pay a bit more for that huge can of olive oil, but there is one less bottle to recycle every month and it saves money in the long run.
Leave a bar of soap by the sink, as most liquid soap comes in non-renewable plastic packaging. Substituting one bottle with a bar in each home would keep more than 2.5 million pounds of plastic out of landfills.
Did you know when you buy wine with a cork stopper, actually made from the bark of the tree, you are helping to maintain the largest natural forest in western Europe? Say no to plastic and screw tops.
Try serving a 1.5 litre magnum of wine when dining with a group instead of two 750 millilitre bottles. A magnum weighs less and requires less fuel to ship than two standard bottles. For an even greener gulp for the group, let the wine flow from a three litre box. I doubt your friends will complain about the extra wine.
Still drinking bottled water? Amazing! Install an undersink or faucet mounted filtration system and drink up, preferably out of a reusable bottle.
Melody Wren is a perennial writer, and in an effort to avoid being an environmental nuisance, she is recycling, reusing, repurposing, rediscovering, reupholstering and researching ways to live a greener life in a greener home. Visit her website at www.melodywren.com
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