6 Ways to Go Green in Your Kitchen

The kitchen is a huge energy suck, but you can reduce reduce its footprint with these easy tips

Credit: Sico Paints

Appliances, paint, faucets and even floors can all contribute to a greener kitchen

Kitchens consume huge amounts of water and energy. But with a sea of green products and practices out there, what to tackle first?

Read on to learn about a few areas where a small step in the green direction can make for a leap in your home’s overall sustainability.

Where to Go Green in Your Kitchen

1. Faucets: A little dribble might not seem like much in the grand, green scheme of things, but a tap that drips 30 times per minute results in 10 litres lost per day – a veritable tide of wasted water. So make sure you turn off that faucet – tightly – when it’s not in use and fix drips and leaks promptly.

Or, install touchless taps, such as these Kohler models, which shut off when nothing is under the spigot. Retrofit older faucets with low-flow, screw-on aerators, which cut water consumption by up to 50 per cent.

2. Dishwasher: Dishwashers heat water and air, which gobbles up energy. So make sure the racks are full before you press Start, and open the door to let dishes dry au naturel whenever possible. Consider switching to a drawer-style model with compartments for running small loads on different cycles simultaneously.

Before buying, be sure to check out the Canadian EnerGuide, which lists the average annual energy consumption of most major appliances and how they compare to other models. Items marked with the Energy Star symbol are the most efficient in their class.

3. Fridge: If you can’t afford a spanking new, energy-efficient refrigerator, there are a few ways you can keep old faithful from working overtime. Keep the fridge compartment at around 2 C and the freezer at around –18 C, the optimal temperatures for energy-saving. And before you store that leftover lasagna, let it cool, and make sure it’s properly covered, since extra heat and moisture send cooling coils into overdrive.

Keep the back of the fridge dust-free and leave at least 2.5 cm of space between it and the wall for air circulation. If possible, keep your refrigerator away from heat sources such as direct sunlight, dishwashers and vents.

4. Paint: Most paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), smelly vapours that contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. So seek out low- and no-VOC latex paints, such as Sico Paints’ Ecosource line, when it’s time for a colour change. Measure before painting for minimal waste: one gallon covers about 400 square feet of wall, depending on the surface texture.

After painting, take empty cans and any leftover product to your nearest Paint Depot (check with the Recycling Council of B.C. to find the one closest to you). Rona stores also now offer paint recycling. 

5. Counters and floors: Conscientious consumers in the market for new counters have a multitude of options: recycled glass, reclaimed wood, recycled steel and even compounds created from recycled paper. Double-check that the material is VOC-free before you buy.

For floors, consider cork, which is easy to maintain and comfortable underfoot, or bamboo, an uber-renewable resource that’s highly durable and as sleek as hardwood. If you’re set on wood, look into re-purposed and salvaged options, and Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified products, which meet strict standards for responsible harvesting.

6. Cooking tools: Buy weighty metal cookware that conducts heat efficiently (copper, iron and stainless steel are best), and use the right size pot or pan for the job, so that you’re not drawing unnecessary energy. And repeat this mantra: quality lasts. It may hurt a bit to fork over $65 for a hand blender when there’s a $15 model on the next shelf, but you’ll be less likely to toss the more expensive one in a year.

Better yet, ditch the electric gadgets and prep by hand – an old-fashioned whisk will beat your eggs just fine. Now that’s green power!