BLACK VOICES
01/06/2014 05:33 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

8 Ways To Be Green And Lean

Katrina Wittkamp via Getty Images

Eating green is a great start to starting an eco-friendly kitchen, however, there is much more that can be done. For example, utilizing energy-efficient technology and using cooking utensils made of materials that are more sustainable while ditching the toxic chemicals are equally as important as eating sustainable and local foods.
Luckily, the right choices can help in your quest in saving the planet, as well as your wallet.

Here are some inexpensive, green suggestions that can be employed in everyday green cooking:

Purchase cookware and utensils that last
Avoid using non-stick pans like Teflon. Opt for cookware made from stainless steel or cast iron. Try investing in a good iron skillet, it will stand the test of time. Choose sturdy utensils instead of cheap ones like plastic utensils. Use cloth towels for cleaning instead of paper as they can be washed and reused. If disposable towels are needed, choose tree free and eco-friendly paper towels made from post consumer waste.

Gas or electric
Preference is given to gas as it is easier to control temperatures, you get instant on-heat, and there is no heat waste. When purchasing a stove, the lower the BTU output, the more energy-efficient the stove will be.
As for electric, stoves with induction elements are most energy efficient. The only drawback with this stove option is one can only use metal utensils (stainless steel, cast iron etc.), not aluminum or glass.

Use appliances that last longer
When choosing home appliances, ask, “Will I love this for the next 10 plus years?” The objective is not only choosing an energy-efficient appliance, but to also choose something you love and can see yourself using over the years. Disposing of refrigerators, freezers, stoves and dishwashers result in the release of hazardous toxins into the environment.

Prepare your meals yourself
Purchasing a pre-packed meal can be convenient. For your green life, start preparing more home meals. You can prepare several meals and freeze them to provide in-home convenience.

Use your appliances efficiently
For example, cook more food in the oven at a time. Preheating is not required in modern ovens, so avoid it.

Purchase in bulk
By purchasing in bulk, you can save up to 30 percent of retail cost since you’re not paying for packaging and can get as little or as much as you need. To reduce waste, bring your own reusable produce bags versus using the store plastic bags.

Reduce Waste
Reduce unnecessary packaging by purchasing fresh, unwrapped produce. Avoid buying too much if you are throwing too much food away. Re-use old glass/plastic jars, plastic bags and bottles.

Clean Green
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors. By purchasing or making nontoxic, plant-based biodegradable detergents to clean your kitchen, you can reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals. Here are some recipes to make your own cleaners.

CONVERSATIONS