By Ana Bonifacio
We all know that the kitchen is the heart of our home, but did you know that your kitchen has a significant impact on your carbon footprint? Overall, just the food waste coming from most kitchens is equivalent to an 8 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
On a daily basis we use this place that is such an integrated part of our homes, for a variety of activities that all have an impact on our environment. That is why your kitchen is the perfect place for you to start your eco-friendly journey.
From the selection and the storage of your products, the water usage, how you manage the food waste and even the appliances you use, all decisions you make in the kitchen have a direct impact on the wellbeing of our planet.
If you’re starting to transform your home into a sustainable or eco-friendly haven here are some tips you should keep in mind.
1. BUY ONLY WHAT YOU NEED
Each year, Americans throw away about ⅓ of the food grown for food consumption – that’s 4 trillion tons of water wasted on food that ends up in our landfills.
When you choose to get only the products you actually need, you reduce the materials that could go to waste and result in significant amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that would therefore increase the overall greenhouse effect.
2. PRODUCT STORAGE
A recent study in Canada shows that each family throws out around 3kg of avoidable food waste each week, equivalent to 23.3kg of carbon emissions.
Knowing how to properly store the products you buy extends the lifespan of the food in our pantries. One thing to keep in mind when talking about storage is to just observe the way supermarkets do it. Nowadays, there are also a lot of guides with suggestions and how-to’s out there that are easily accessible.
3. PAY ATTENTION TO THE PRODUCTS YOU CHOOSE
Although selecting organic products sourced at local markets is not essential, it is important. In the cultivation and growing process of agricultural products, chemical fertilizers are traditionally used. Besides contaminating the water and soil, these have an overall negative impact on our environment. A good alternative to this would be to buy products from the local farmers markets, which would at least cut the impact of long distance transportation.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, opting for products sourced at local farmers markets that are organic and in season is already drastically reducing the gas pollution to our environment.
4. WASTE MANAGEMENT
How we deal with the organic waste produced in our kitchen is very important. Your choices can either decrease or increase your carbon footprint. This leads to pollution of our atmosphere and triggers climate change. The best way you can deal with this kind of waste is by using them to create compost.
The compost that results from the organic waste from our kitchen is not only closing the circle on the life cycle of these materials, but it also gives a new beginning to other materials. These result from the chemical breakdown of our waste, providing a favorable and nutritious setting for the growth of new products.
Composting your leftovers in a well-maintained bin that lets in oxygen, you’ll significantly reduce the amount of methane released into the atmosphere and the carbon in the composting organic matter will be held in the resulting soil.
Composting lowers greenhouse gas emissions by about 14% of the same food dumped into landfill.
5. PLASTIC AND CLEANING PRODUCTS
The way that plastic bags and containers are handled as well as the packaging used for many products we buy at the supermarket and the ones we use in our kitchen can aggravate the waste issue.
Many times these items end up not being reused and in the best of cases just not properly recycled; therefore ending up in landfills. The plastic in these cases cannot only lead to death by asphyxiation of many animals, but also, when heated up and reaching high temperatures, these containers release toxic substances that end up in our environment.
Conventional cleaning products may prove to be efficient, but are not only packaged in plastic containers, they can also leave behind toxic residue that end up drastically harming our environment and therefore affecting our health, and in the long term our finances as well.
Although it may not seem that way, everything we do, or stop doing in our kitchen has a major impact on the environment. Many people think that only by switching to organic products, they will make a difference. Remember though, the decisions you make, from what you choose to buy to how you dispose of said items, can help our planet.
At the end of the day, just keep in mind that an organized kitchen is a more efficient one. Taking an extra 5 minutes to plan and organize your food, not only will help reduce your carbon footprint, it will also positively affect your expenses. The average American is throwing away about $1,866 per year, what would you do with an extra $1,866?
Ready to make the move? Organizations like My Kitchen and Me and Stop Waste offer readers a how-to guide for turning your home more eco-friendly. These companies do a great job of explaining to users the how and why to transition your home into a green space. My Kitchen and Me not only teaches readers how but also allows readers to shop the latest non-toxic and green cleaning products they bring up in their how-to articles.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Ana María Bonifacio Polanco, completed her university studies at the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) and finished her clinical practices in different cities of her home country, where she jointly worked with the team of the Centro de Investigación y Apoyo Cultural (CIAC) in rural areas of the country. Coming from a family dedicated to the production of agricultural products, she became part of the team of the former Centro Sur de Desarrollo Agropecuario (CESDA) del Ministerio de Agricultura de la República Dominicana, where she held the position of head of the Nematology department. At the age of 28 she moved to the USA, where she has worked for more than 30 years in the health area. Moved by her sympathy for nature and her respect for animals, an inclination that she has shown since childhood, in her free time she works as a spokesperson for the protection of the environment; and is dedicated to painting.