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Cooking Consciously: 11 Practical Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen

By GreenPan Australia

Wondering how to be sustainable in the kitchen? Creating a sustainable kitchen is easy with GreenPan Australia's 11 practical tips for eco-friendly cooking.

Cooking Consciously: 11 Practical Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen

Climate change, extreme weather and ecological catastrophes. These are all hot topics that fuel intense emotions and vigorous debate. While the environment has become a political hot potato, between 70-80% of Australians consider climate change to be a serious concern.¹ It should therefore, come as no surprise that most of us strive to do something to reduce our impact on the planet. Whether installing solar panels, reducing meat consumption or recycling, there are many ways to turn your concern for the globe into action. Like most things, progress starts at home. Our kitchens are where the greatest gains are possible. Kitchens typically use the most energy and harmful chemicals and produce the most waste. So, how can we make our kitchens more eco-friendly? Here are 11 practical tips to help you cook consciously and implement eco-friendly practices to create a sustainable kitchen.

1. Invest in Eco-Friendly Cookware and Energy-Efficient Appliances

Eco-friendly cookware is designed with sustainability in mind. These products are often made from recycled or sustainable materials that are better for the environment and for your health. For example, GreenPan’s cookware, bakeware, and appliances feature coatings that are PFAS-free, PFOA-free, and also free from lead and cadmium. This means they don't release harmful chemicals when heated, ensuring your food remains safe and healthy.

When well cared for, eco-friendly cookware can be incredibly durable, allowing you to reduce waste by holding onto your quality cookware longer. For example, GreenPan’s award-winning Valencia Pro Collection utilises hard-anodised, recycled, and supremely durable aluminium. Copper-reinforced ferromagnetic particles make for a thick base that will never warp on you, while the professional-level ceramic coating delivers a smooth, non-stick surface that heats food evenly and safely. The return on investment comes in multiple forms – you get eco-friendly cookware that’s practical, durable, easy to use, good for the planet, and good for your health, with no worries about harmful chemicals or heavy metals.

Energy-efficient appliances play an equally crucial role: they reduce energy consumption in the kitchen and support the environment. These appliances use less energy without compromising performance.

GreenPan’s Omni Cooker is a prime example that checks both of these boxes. This versatile multicooker features a diamond-infused ceramic non-stick coating free of PFAS chemicals. It also features a cast-in element that ensures quick and even heating, allowing you to cook on the countertop using minimal power. From steak to stew, this single device can handle most cooking needs in a way that’s safe for your family and gentler for the planet. Investing in the best eco-friendly cookware and energy-efficient appliances, like the Omni Cooker, can significantly reduce your utility bills and carbon footprint.

2. Buy Local and Seasonal Produce

This is another tip that serves multiple purposes. Purchasing local, seasonal produce supports local farmers and reduces your carbon footprint. You’ll also be rewarded with better-tasting meals, particularly if you use healthy, eco-friendly cookware. As you enjoy your meals, you’ll also bask in the knowledge that you’ve reduced the energy used in transportation and storage.

Buying local and seasonal produce can also help maintain biodiversity in your area. It encourages farmers to grow a wider variety of crops, which benefits the soil and local wildlife. Plus, seasonal produce is often more nutrient-dense, meaning you’ll get more nutritious meals.

Favouring local and seasonal produce is a sustainable choice that also comes with an abundance of health benefits.

3. Grow Your Own Herbs

Why buy packaged herbs when you can grow your own? It’s easy, fun, and you’ll always have fresh herbs at hand for your culinary creations. In addition to the joy of gardening, growing your own herbs can also be a savvy financial move. With inflation impacting the price of groceries, a household supply can help keep your budget in check. Additionally, there’s nothing quite like the taste of home-grown herbs, adding a fresh and personal touch to your dishes.

Need some nutritious recipe ideas to put your new herb garden to good use? Check out our healthy, flavour-packed recipes. We’ve designed them to be the perfect match for a sustainable lifestyle.

4. Compost Kitchen Scraps

Much of the organic matter in landfills can’t decompose properly. Food scraps become buried under tons of waste, depriving them of oxygen, which is essential for the process. As a result, instead of breaking down into harmless byproducts, the organic matter undergoes anaerobic decomposition and emits methane, a greenhouse gas up to 25 times more potent than CO2.²

Thankfully, the solution for this is easy to implement. All you have to do is turn your kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich compost. Whether you use a small bench-top composter or a big backyard compost bin, it’s a win-win situation: you reduce waste, and your plants get natural fertiliser. Composting can help improve soil structure, leading to better plant growth. It also preserves soil moisture, reducing the need for frequent watering. In other words, you can transform something that would have been problematic for the environment into something that contributes to water conservation and healthier plants.

5. Cook in Bulk and Plan Meals

Cooking in bulk and planning meals is a smart strategy to reduce both energy use and food waste. As the amount of food you cook increases, energy use only increases incrementally, making it far more efficient and cost-effective.

Did you know Australians waste about 7.6 million tonnes of food annually across the supply and consumption chain? That’s about 312 kilograms per person! This waste accounts for about 3% of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

By planning ahead and knowing what you need for each meal, you can buy just the right amount of ingredients, reducing the likelihood of food going to waste.

6. Take Advantage of Reusable Containers

Say goodbye to single-use plastic and hello to reusable containers. They’re better for the environment and your wallet. Reusable containers are often more durable and versatile than their single-use counterparts. They’re great for storing leftovers, packing lunches, and organising your pantry. By choosing reusable containers, you get to reduce plastic waste while creating a more organised, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing kitchen.

7. Recycle

Recycle everything you can – glass, paper, metal, and certain types of plastic. Check with your local council for recycling guidelines, as there can be differences from region to region. Also, note that some items – like batteries and mobile phones – can be recycled at specialised facilities that handle those types of waste.

By being more diligent about recycling, you’re doing your part to conserve natural resources and save energy. For instance, recycling one tonne of paper can save around 17 beautiful trees and 7,000 gallons of water.³ Similar statistics exist for every form of recyclable waste, so this is one way you can have a substantial impact on preserving our planet’s precious resources.

8. Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Most conventional cleaning products are packed with harsh chemicals that can harm your health and the environment. So, choose eco-friendly alternatives or make your own using simple, natural ingredients like baking soda and white vinegar.

On a personal level, eco-friendly cleaning products tend to be gentler on your skin and respiratory system. They’re free from harsh chemicals like bleach, ammonia, and formaldehyde that can cause irritation. Plus, they’re usually cruelty-free and packaged in recyclable or biodegradable packaging, reducing your overall environmental impact further. By choosing eco-friendly cleaning products, you’re creating a safer environment at home and for the planet at large.

9. Reduce Water Usage

Be mindful of your water usage. Simple changes like not leaving the tap running while washing dishes can make a surprisingly big difference. To further reduce water waste, consider installing a low-flow faucet aerator in your kitchen sink. This simple device can reduce water flow by 50%⁴, helping you save thousands of litres of water each year. Also, try only to run your dishwasher when it’s full, as this can significantly reduce water usage.

10. Use Cloth Instead of Paper

Replace paper towels with reusable cloth alternatives. They’re more absorbent, cost-effective, and kinder to our planet. Cloth towels are also far more versatile. They can help with everything from drying dishes to wiping down counters. Plus, they’re easy to clean – just toss ‘em in the wash, and they’re ready to use again.

This simple step can drastically reduce your annual paper waste, reducing deforestation and water pollution associated with paper towel production.

11. Educate Yourself and Your Family

Knowledge is power. The more you learn about sustainability in the kitchen and eco-friendly practices in general, the more you can share with your family and friends. Sustainability is a collective effort. The more people that participate, the more significant the impact. You could even make it a fun learning experience by organising eco-friendly challenges or workshops at home. Remember, every sustainable action counts. Together, we can make a significant difference.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and disheartened when you see news about climate change, pollution, and environmental destruction. However, it’s vital to remember that every little effort you make helps. Even small changes can make a significant difference when we all work together. So why not start today? Your kitchen, wallet, and the planet will all be much healthier.

End Notes

1. The Australian Institute: Climate of the Nation 2023 https://australiainstitute.org.au/report/climate-of-the-nation-2023/

2. Environment Victoria: Organic Waste https://environmentvictoria.org.au/resource/organic-waste/

3. MIT: Recycling Facts https://web.mit.edu/facilities/environmental/recyc-facts.html

4. Earth Easy: Low-Flow Aerators / Showerheads https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/low-flow-aerators-showerheads