Sustainability is the concept of promoting a thriving, healthful future for what’s ahead. As the Nutrition Team, we often refer to our lifestyle choices as ones that we want to make “sustainable.” We want to promote the ultimate goal of finding a lifestyle pattern that supports a healthy and realistic future for you. Sustainability is such a broad topic, though – and it can refer to things like infrastructure, the environment, and even our kitchens!
So, what does “kitchen sustainability” mean, and why is it something to consider? Kitchen sustainability is the practice of taking steps to make your kitchen more environmentally friendly. Our everyday choices impact our Earth and ecosystems, including the foods we choose to eat, and the water we drink. By taking a few simple steps towards sustainability in your kitchen, you can help to keep our Earth healthy – one meal at a time!
Use Energy-Saving Cooking Techniques
Skip Preheating! Most ovens nowadays preheat quickly, so there isn’t much merit to waiting for it to fully preheat. Instead of waiting for your oven to reach its final temperature, try placing your items in a bit earlier.
Maximize Your Oven Space. If you need to use your oven for multiple items, put them all in at the same time. Meet in the middle with your temperature requirements and keep an eye on what you’re cooking!
Give Pressure-Cooking a Try. This time-saving technique can help decrease your cooking time and get dinner on your plate in a flash! Use an Instant Pot or traditional pressure cooker to make recipes that you might otherwise cook in a slow cooker for hours.
Buy Local Ingredients and Cook from Scratch
When you buy food locally, you’re supporting local agriculture and small farming businesses. You’re also decreasing the “food miles” traveled by your goods and emitting less fossil fuels in the process. Now that you’ve got your local ingredients, you can cook from scratch! When you cook from scratch, you’re decreasing the amount of packaging waste found in traditional single-use meals.
Shop in Bulk to Reduce Packaging Waste
Buying food in larger quantities means less packaging in the end. Think about it – if you bought 1 10lb. bag of beans instead of 10 1lb. bags, you’d be saving a ton of packaging overall. You can even shop from local stores that have bulk bins, where you can scoop products into your own container to take waste reduction a step further! When you shop, try to use your own bags and containers whenever it’s available. Decrease plastic waste at the checkout, in the produce aisle, and around the bulk bins!
Recycle and Compost
We’ve all heard it before – “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Now, add composting to the mix! Composting is another way to eliminate food waste by turning it into usable soil for the future. Nourish your veggie garden with some homemade compost next season! Make sure to also keep a recycle bin readily available in your kitchen and be cautious of what you throw in there. Sort your recycling as needed and bring it to the appropriate facility to make sure that it’s given the new life it deserves!
Upgrade Appliances and Cookware
As your appliances reach their bitter end, think about upgrading with energy efficient Energy-star certified appliances. These reduce overall energy usage, and can lower your bills, too! You can also invest in long-lasting cookware, like stainless steel pots and pans. With proper care, these can outlast many other pots and pans – meaning you don’t have to replace them as often and are, therefore, creating less waste!
By: Aubrey Redd, MS, RDN, LDN