Perfecting that dream green kitchen is kind of like tweaking a recipe until you've mastered it. Maybe you've scaled back on your paper towel usage, but your energy bill is still higher than you'd like. Or you revamped your recycling habits, and now you're curious about composting.
We've written before about how to instantly reduce your kitchen's eco-footprint; now, we're continuing the discussion with out-of-the-box ideas for further sustainability in the kitchen.
Here are six inventive ways to make your kitchen (even more) eco-friendly:
As we've discussed before, the issue with plastic straws is twofold. One, they're everywhere: In the U.S. alone, we go through 390 million drinking straws on a daily basis. And two, each straw is useful for just a few minutes before it’s tossed in the trash, where it can take hundreds of years to decompose. More often than not, straws (along with other types of non-recycled plastics) end up cluttering landfills, or floating in the ocean—where marine life is at risk of fatally mistaking plastic for food.
You might have heard about the policies passed by some cities and states (like Seattle and California), which have restricted the use of plastic straws in restaurants. You can recreate this concept in your own kitchen. This list from "The Last Plastic Straw" provides alternatives to conventional, non-recyclable straws. In addition to usual picks like glass and stainless steel, other choices include fun options like freezer-moldable straws, and even edible varieties. Bottom line: Giving up straws doesn’t have to suck!
You probably already know that cooking at home, rather than ordering takeout, is better for the environment. But there's one additional step you can take to further "green" your home cuisine. Instead of opting for the oven when preparing small dishes, switch to a toaster oven, microwave, slow cooker, or small convection oven whenever possible. Doing so can use 30% less energy (even more—around 50%—with a microwave).
Psst: When you do use the stovetop, keep the lids on whenever possible. Cooking with an open pot or pan uses up to three times as much energy. And always match the cookware to the burner coil size; if the burner is too big, its exposed sides will waste extra energy.
On those hectic weekday mornings when you're rushing out the door, turning off all the appliances—the coffee maker, the toaster, the electric kettle, etc.—can feel like a time-consuming nuisance.
One easy solution? Switch all of your small appliances over to a single power-strip. Or if you're a lover of high-tech gadgets, use a series of smart plugs to turn all of those small appliances off at once with a few simple clicks on your mobile phone. If you're not doing this already, it may just be the easiest eco swap you make, since it allows you to switch everything off in one go when you leave the house.
The switch from paper towels to reusable ones can be frustrating. You might feel like towels get dirty too quickly, or they're not as absorbent as their disposable counterparts. Or maybe there just never seems to be enough rags to go around.
The secret to successfully going paper-free in the kitchen is using a strategic replacement for each need. Instead of using paper napkins, for example, opt for high-quality cloth linens. And rather than using paper towels to wipe up spills or messes, try a microfiber cloth. These are typically the most absorbent type of towel, they can help eliminate streaking on mirrors and countertops, and they pair well with our natural multi-surface cleaner.
Make the transition all-around simpler by setting up a towel station, where dirty towels can be stored separately from clean, ready-to-use towels. Keep used rags in a separate bag until laundry day, or air them out with a designated rack in your laundry room.
If you're equal parts concerned about the safety of tap water and the amount of plastic waste generated by conventional water filters, then we've got a solution for you: Charcoal.
Charcoal filters are sourced from the branches of oak trees, and they are slowly carbonized at over 1,000 degrees. Simply plop the plastic-free stick in a pitcher or carafe, and it will filter your water (of chlorine, sediment particles, VOCs, taste, and odor) for around four months. After that, you can use it as a deodorizer in the fridge before composting it.
Kitchen smelling a bit stuffy or musty? You might want to think twice before reaching for that conventional spray, which—in addition to potentially containing hazardous chemicals which could cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive issues—can also detrimentally affect outdoor air quality, and contribute to photochemical smog. Stovetop potpourri is a natural, family- and environmentally-safe alternative for sprucing up your kitchen scent.
Pour the water in a pot, add desired ingredients, bring to a boil, then let simmer. Replenish the water as needed. Take a deep inhale, and enjoy!
If you're feeling less crafty, but want to keep the air quality in your kitchen top-notch, consider an air-purifying plant. Aloe vera plants filter benzene and formaldehyde out of the air, for example, and spider plants take xylene and carbon monoxide out of the indoor environment.
Here at Puracy, we're constantly cooking up new ways to go green in the kitchen. That's why all of our products, including our kitchen essentials, are 99.5% natural, hyper-concentrated, fully biodegradable, and made of easy-to-recycle plastic.