GO GREEN SPECIAL
2LOVE YOUR APPLIANCES - Energy-efficiency upgrades are coming fast and furious to many new appliances. An efficient dishwasher, for instance, can use a lot less water than washing the dishes by hand in the sink. But before you jump the gun and make a hasty appliance purchase, however, first check to make sure that a repair isn't in order. If the time has indeed come to get rid of an old appliance, note that many councils have take-back programs, helping you to properly dispose of these things, which likely contain hazardous chemicals and materials. When it does come time to replace your old-faithfuls look for the Energy Star rating, available for kitchen appliances including stoves, refrigerators, freezers, and dishwashers, then choose a sturdy model that will last.
3DO IT YOURSELF - When cooking fresh meals at home rather than relying on preprepared food, you know exactly what is going in to your food, and, if you're diligent about sourcing it, where it came from. This option also cuts out steps of your food's lifecycle (and the associated energy in processing and transportation that comes from each step). If you have the space, take it a step further and grow your own fruits, vegetables, using your composted kitchen waste as fertilizer. Don't stop the DIY train there, though: you can clean your counters and hand-wash dishes with white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Instead of shelling out for bottled water, get a filter pitcher or tap filter. The charcoalpeople.co.uk offer an innovative system.
4BULK UP - Buy in bulk and cook in bulk; just make sure you can consume what you purchase and produce! Purchasing from the bulk bins mean less packaging, and fewer trips to the shops, and can also mean financial savings. Try infinityfoods.co.uk and suma.coop. Bulk cooking is a more efficient use of appliance energy and your time, (and a great excuse to throw a party), so cook up a nice big pot of soup and anticipate saving (and eating) lots of leftovers. And plan ahead; planning meals that can feed you and your family for a few days is a great way to shop efficiently and free up your precious leisure time.
5ENERGY-EFFICIENT COOKING - When cooking on the stove, using a properly sized pot for each of the stove burners also makes a difference; on an electric stove, for example, an 18cm pan used on a 22cm hob wastes more than 40 percent of the burner's heat. Make sure all of your pots and pans have close-fitting lids, then use them whenever possible including when you're bringing boiled water up to temperature. Of course, the most energy efficient cooking means leaving heat out of the equation altogether - don't forget about salads, chilled soups, and other dishes that require little prep and can be eaten cold. There's a large niche culture growing around the idea of raw food - don't be afraid to try something new!
6BUY LOCAL - The food you bring in to your kitchen is just as important as the gadgets and appliances you have there, so buy local whenever you can. Food miles have risen near the top of ecofriendly food considerations, and the fewer miles from farm to table, the better. Organic grapes from Chile might taste good in the dead of winter, but consider the pollution caused by flying them to wherever you are. In addition, since they're bereft of preservatives, biocides and many other nasties that inhabit conventional foods, organic foods can spoil more quickly, meaning that the longer your bunch of grapes is in transit,
the less pristine its condition is likely to be. Whenever possible, we recommend supporting a community supported agriculture (CSA) co-op, buying from local farmers' markets or purchasing directly from farmers themselves. Find local food producers at bigbarn.co.uk.
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AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2015 www.thegreenparent.co.uk