How to green your kitchen
As concern for the environment becomes an ever more widespread trend, people are realizing the kitchen is the heart of an eco-friendly home. Here are ways, both big and small, that your kitchen can contribute to a greener planet.
Bamboo serving dishes
According to a recent survey by Albing International Marketing, the desire to go green officially has moved from passing fancy to legitimate trend with staying power.
"We can say without a doubt at this point that people genuinely believe they need to make a difference," says AIM President Robin Albing. "They're really trying."
It's no surprise, then, that eco-friendly renovations are one of the fastest-growing categories among building contractors, the AIM survey reported, with "greening" the kitchen a top priority among concerned homeowners.
And when you think about it, it makes sense: More than any other room in the home, the kitchen is a two-way portal between us and the world outside. In comes the food, the water, the groceries; out goes the recycling, the in-sink waste, the garbage. The kitchen is where we chill food in energy-hogging refrigerators and heat it in energy-hogging microwaves, where we clean grime with chemicals, cook with gas or electric and store leftovers in plastic or foil.
The heart of the modern home holds a lot of potential for contributing to a greener planet.
Try a tiered approach
It's worth emphasizing that you don't have to completely green your kitchen from the outset to make improvements. Start small. Most homeowners in another AIM survey have made easy changes such as using low-energy light bulbs (70%) and recycling (77%). In addition, you can try:
- cleansers with organic ingredients;
- biodegradable garbage bags; and
- recycled paper products for napkins and paper towels. (You may want to test a few of these until you find a brand that holds up well.)
Clorox, for one, is doing a good job of combating perceptions that green household products are not on a par with their conventional competitors. Clorox now lends its reputation for tough cleaners -- built on the strength of chlorine bleach -- to a line of more environmentally friendly cleaners called Green Works. It's the first product ever to be endorsed by the Sierra Club.
When you've knocked out the smaller stuff, reconsider your large kitchen appliances. Though refrigerators, dishwashers and stoves are all big-ticket items, assessing their efficiency has been made simple. Energy Star ratings provide a reliable standard; with a bit of research and a few simple calculations, consumers can weigh a purchase price against savings on monthly operating costs.