Photo credit: eBay
This guest post was written by Annie Lescroart, a member of eBay's Green Team.
We're well aware of the importance of health when it comes to preparing foods in the kitchen—between Salmonella, E. Coli, and a variety of other food-borne diseases, we've learned to pay close attention to how we prepare our food. But what about the things we bring into the kitchen—and the kitchen itself?Before you begin preparing this month's Thanksgiving feast, let's take a magnifying glass (with a sustainable lens, of course) through the scullery and uncover a few ways to make the most popular room of the house the greenest, cleanest and safest. After all, our cookprint isn't calculated by just counting the foods we consume, but by considering the total environmental impact of creating a meal, from the farm to the plate, and every step in between.
Be LocalAvoid eating a carrot that has traveled 1,838 miles to reach your dinner table (which the average does), by pledging to eat locally, seasonably and sustainably. Choosing locally-raised foods isn't only better for your health, though: mass food production is entirely dependent on fossil fuels, which, when refined and burned, create greenhouse gases that are significant contributors to climate change.
Sustainable farming, on the other hand, benefits the local community, economy and supports the environment by enriching the soil and minimizing energy consumption. You don't have to become a locavore, but a regular trip to your neighborhood farmer's market will do you—and the world—some good.
Be FairThere's nothing better than the smell of coffee brewing in the morning—or is there? Whether you're a three-cup-a-day or an every-now-and-then drinker, we should make it a habit to only consume coffee that was sold under fair conditions.
Agriculture workers often toil in the outdoor version of a sweatshop, while many small coffee farmers can't even make profit on their sales, dragging them into a vicious cycle of poverty. Fair Trade coffee means health, education, environmental stewardship, and community development. And there's nothing better than that with your cup o' joe in the morning.
Consider Your Cookware
Just as important as eating sustainably is, ensuring that what we cook with, chop-on and eat with is sustainable too. Luckily, there are some great alternative options enabling us to reduce our cookprint—and avoid the potential health risks associated with materials like Teflon, made of potential cancer-causing chemicals.
- The Green Pan is one the first eco-friendly pans to use Thermalon, a non-stick ceramic-based coating which doesn't contain any PTFE or PFOA. On the other hand, preparing food with a cast iron pan can actually help increase your iron intake - a healthy and important food additive. It's a great way for non-meat eaters to supplement those essentials.
- Choose sustainably-harvested wood over plastics and petroleum-based products—if cared for properly, they will provide you a lifetime of use.
- Finally, when you're ready to upgrade, look into options other than your trash to send kitchenware you no longer need, like local or online buy-back programs - and eBay!
Keep It Cool
The kitchen is one of the most energy-consuming rooms in the home—between your dish-washer's water usage and the electricity required by your fridge and freezer, it's incredibly resource-depleting. By investing in Energy Star appliances, you'll reduce almost 50 percent of your water and energy usage—and cut nearly 1,000 pounds off your carbon footprint.
Remember to CompostDid you know that on average, the kitchen generates the most waste of any room in your house? In addition to giving back to the Earth, the more we compost, the less we contribute to the cost of trash removal and the volume of solid materials in landfills. And don't be intimidated by the process—it's actually quite simple, especially if you have a counter-top composting pail. It's covered - and will serve as a daily reminder to do your part!
So, this holiday season (and every other day of the year...), remember that a healthy kitchen is a green (and happy!) kitchen.
Annie Lescroart is a member of eBay's 270,000-member Green Team and has been with the company since early 2009. For the past eight years, she has been helping companies link their brands to social issues and tell their stories to the world.
Read more about going green in the kitchen:
Eating Local Food: The Movement, Locavores and More
How to Go Green: In the Kitchen
Compost: How to Make It, Bins, Piles and More