NEW DELHI. INDIA. A kitchen is the most important part of any house that not only nourishes a family but also impacts the environment. If you want to contribute your bit towards the environment then start with your kitchen. Here are the small steps that you can take to make your kitchen green.
Are you among those who love to relish exotic food that travel far and wide to reach your plate? If yes, then think about the carbon emissions the transportation of the food release into the environment, and its subsequent impact on climate change.
It takes a large quantity of fossil fuels to transport food from one place to another. In the era of globalisation, food not only travels from one part of the country to another but from one continent to another as well. It is estimated that the meals in the United States travel about 1,500 miles to reach the consumer. When so much energy is consumed for transportation and subsequent carbon emissions added to the environment, then it becomes the need of the hour to turn to local produce.
Yes, switching to organic produce can go a long way in supporting the environment. Organic food is not only nutritious but also good for the environment.
The regular use of pesticides and fertilisers makes the soil infertile and strips it offthe essential nutrients. The chemicals from farms contaminate the nearby water sources making it unfit for drinking. Whereas, organic farming improves soil productivity, reduces water pollution and helps in storing carbon dioxidein the soil and lessens its emission in the environment.
“If we promote organic food then agricultural practices involving the use of chemicals would decline,” said Deepak Sabharwal, Co Founder, Earthy Tales.
Also, pesticides seep deep into the ground polluting groundwater and making it unfit for consumption.
“Of the pesticides sprayed on weeds, it is observed that only 1% reaches the pest and the rest is lost to spray drift, run-offs, and off-target depositions. These in turn have undesirable effects on communities, ecosystems and humans,” explained Sabharwal.
Use food scraps
It is always better to find a second use of the food scraps than simply throwing them away. One of the ways to utilise the scraps could be to use them for making stew or broth. “Don’t waste the stems of the herbs like thyme, basil or rosemary and use them in stocks and sauces instead,” suggested Chef Pawan Bisht, Corporate Chef and R&D Executive, One8commune by Virat Kohli.
The chef also added that the peels of certain fruits and vegetables can be used to make relishes, jams and preserves. Food scraps and yard waste together make up more than 30 percent of what we throw away which could otherwise be composted. “If the peels can’t be used to make edibles then it can be used as manure in the kitchen gardens,” said Bisht.
Choose plant-based diet
One of the purposes of the plant-based diet is to ease the burden on the environment. If you think the plant-based diet devoid you of non-veg food then you are wrong. In fact, you can enjoy plant-based meat without harming animals, the environment and your health.
“Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions; it leads to inefficient use of our resources like soil and water. Also animal meat is not good for health on account of high cholesterol levels, zero dietary fibres and prevalence of growth hormones and antibiotics in most meat products,” said Abhishek Sinha, Founder, GoodDot.
A recent study published in the journal ‘Nature’ revealed that food production is responsible for 35% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. “Of which 57% corresponds to the production of animal-based food,” the study further added.
According to the research beef production contributes 25% of all food-based greenhouse gas emissions followed by cow’s milk, pork, and chicken.
The way we cook or the methods we use to cook food determines the energy usage pattern in our kitchen. Efficient cooking requires less energy and time to cook food. Chef Bisht shares tips to cook efficiently: Add the exact amount of water you need in a pot, heating more than you need takes extra time and energy, cover your pots and pans properly to cook food faster, and pressure cook as it saves energy by reducing the cooking time by up to 70 percent.
Cook your meal
Wondering how cooking at home can help the environment? If you consume home cooked food then you add less packaging waste to the environment as compared to the consumption of ready-to-eat food.
“If you look around, the packaged food like readymade juices, instant noodles and similar products are all packed in plastic-based material. People consume them and litter around which is the main concern for the environment,” said Chirag Barjatya, fitness trainer and wellness entrepreneur.
Besides the waste, these packaged foods are generally very calorie-dense. Juices are full of sugar with no fibres and instant noodles are very high in salt and calories. “These packaged foods are great in taste and we end up eating a lot of calories which is the main cause of obesity and hence many lifestyle disorders and diseases,” he added.
Opt for eco-friendly cookware, utensils and appliance
Non-stick cookware is in demand these days owing to its non-stick property and beautiful designs. However, non-stick cookware releases carcinogenic toxic fumes in air which can lead to health issues. Switching to steel and cast-iron cookware not only provides a healthy alternative but it is economical as well. Steel or iron cookware lasts long as compared to non-stick cookware.
Also, we can replace plastic with glass or stainless utensils. Eating food from plastic utensils is not good for health and for the environment as well.
We use a number of appliances in our kitchen including stoves, refrigerator, dishwashers and ovens which require energy to operate. The usage of the energy can be decreased by up to 50% if we use energy-rated appliances. Also, the energy-efficient appliances use less energy to give better results. A dishwasher would use less water to clean the dishes as compared to doing them in the sink. The use of solar ovens is also a good move towards saving the environment.
Say no to plastic
Who is not aware of the effects the plastic has on the environment? It takes years for any plastic object or article to decompose. A plastic bottle can take around 450 years to decompose. Plastic bags which have become an important part of our life not only take a long time to decompose but when drained into waterways pose a threat to marine life as well.
People prefer to use plastic containers for storage in the kitchen as such containers are trendy and light-weight. However, plastic containers are not environment friendly and should be avoided at any cost. We can replace it with glass jars. Also, we should use a shopping bag made up of cloth.
It is only wise to use more reusable material in your kitchen. We can replace paper towels with a piece of cloth and minimise the use of aluminium foils.