From your Volunteer Parents' Council at FAMILY WELL-BEING. It's not easy being "green", you say? Well, here are some tips on having an ECO-FRIENDLY kitchen --- There are many things that you can easily do to help protect the environment, avoid waste, save the landfills, conserve energy and all those other terms that help define "Earth Day." The kitchen is a logical place to start since it can generate a lot of waste from food, packaging, and so on. It's also the room that uses the most energy.

Appliances: Kitchen appliances account for about 30 percent of total household energy use.


  • Aside from the energy used to heat and cool your home, the refrigerator tends to be the biggest single, energy-using appliance. But in the past decade, refrigerators have been designed for more efficiency, and the full-sizes now run on less energy than a 1,000-watt light bulb.

  • The most efficient configuration is the freezer on the bottom and the compressor at the top, so the heat can dissipate upward. But it's important to use the Energy Star label. Created by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, these labels identify the most energy-efficient appliances on the market.

To make sure cold air isn't leaking out of the fridge that you already have, close the door over a dollar bill folded half in / half out. If you can pull the bill out easily, the seal needs replacing. Replacing a seal is a lot cheaper than replacing a whole refrigerator.

  • Try to break family members of the habit of gazing into the fridge. Opening the door lets the cold air out and makes it work harder.

  • Twice a year, vacuum the coils on the back of the refrigerator to prevent dirt buildup, which greatly reduces efficiency.

  • A full refrigerator and freezer take less energy to keep cool than when they're empty.

  • Cover foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.


  • A dishwasher actually takes less water than washing dishes by hand, and it does a better job of killing germs.

  • Wait until you have a full load of dishes to run it.

  • Turn off the power-dry setting and let the dishes air-dry.

  • The Kitchen Aid dishwasher uses less water than your typical dishwasher, so you're also reducing the energy needed to heat the dishwater. It has a built-in disposer, so you don't need to waste water rinsing the dishes before loading. But if you have to pre-rinse your dishes, use cold water instead of hot.


  • In any room in the house, the most cost-effective energy-saving step you can take is replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights. They are a twisted little tube light that uses 75 percent less energy and lasts seven-to-ten times longer. They're more expensive up front but will save you $25 to $30 a bulb over its lifespan.

  • Open the blinds and use natural daylight.

  • If you'll be out of the room for more than two minutes, turn off the lights.


  • Locate your oven outside the primary kitchen work triangle -- this way the refrigerator doesn't have to work harder to cool off, and you stay cooler while you're working.

  • Put lids on your pots and pans. They will heat faster and require less heat.

  • Match the size of the pan to the burner, so no heat is lost. Putting a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner will waste more than 40 percent of the energy, according to statistics.

  • When using the oven or stove, turn off the heating element a few minutes before the food is finished cooking. The residual heat will finish cooking the food.

  • Combine dishes in the oven whenever possible -- bake potatoes or rolls while roasting meat, for example.

  • Monitor your microwave. Microwaves are the most energy-efficient way to cook because they cook faster and at a lower wattage than conventional ovens. However, microwaving alters food chemistry, which can lead to malfunctions in the lymphatic system and degeneration of the body's ability to protect itself against cancerous growths. Because of this, as well as the proven dangers of E.M.F. (Electomagnetic Frequencies) produced whenever your microwave oven is turned on, you have to make your own decision on how much to use the microwave.

  • Small appliances use less electricity. Use a toaster instead of the oven for toasting bread; a slow cooker for soups or pot roast.

  • Re-think your recipes. Do you really need to cook something on the stove? Mix it with the rest of the ingredients and bake it in the oven. You may be able to turn it into a skillet dinner cooked solely on just one burner (or even better, in your slow-cooker).

  • Consider the weather. Outdoor grilling sends smoke into the atmosphere, but your house stays cool. In the winter, the extra heat from baking and roasting in your oven is welcome.


  • Pack lunches, drinks, etc. in reusable containers.

  • Use a refillable mug for soft drinks or coffee. If every coffee drinker switched from disposable cups to a reusable thermos, it would prevent 7 million pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted every day.

  • Reuse grocery bags for shopping, lining trash cans, etc.

  • Use cloth grocery bags. Keep them in the trunk and throw them in the bottom of your shopping cart.

  • Buy products made from recycled materials.

  • Buy reusable products such as refillable razors and rechargeable batteries.

  • Choose earth-friendly household cleaners.

  • Take advantage of your community's curbside recycling program.

  • Use washable plates, cups and utensils instead of disposable, and reuse the plastic utensils.

  • If you can't recycle glass jars, margarine tubs, etc. use them for flower pots, storing leftovers, marbles, buttons, etc.


  • Buy locally grown or produced foods. The average produce travels more than 1,500 miles from farm to plate. Think of the costs as well as nutritional considerations.

  • Buy in bulk. Large sizes use less packaging per ounce, and packaging materials make up one-third of America's landfills.

  • To make bulk items (spices, shampoo, dry goods) easy to use, save a smaller container and keep refilling it.

  • Every so often, skip your usual grocery trip and just cook what's buried in your freezer and cupboards. You'll avoid wasting food and the gas costs of driving to the store.

  • Make meals in double batches and freeze. Then reheat the second meal later. When grilling, cook extra steak or chicken that can be used later in quick casseroles or to top a salad.

  • Use the little odds-and-ends of food that would be tossed out. The half-serving of today's spaghetti could become part of tomorrow's lunch. Keep a container in the freezer to throw in leftover vegetables, etc. Then make them into a soup every so often.

Best wishes for your family's continued healthy living, from your Volunteer Parents' Council at --- FAMILY WELL-BEING ---801-687-0972 or 801-687-0794

Posted November 2010 | Permanent Link

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