“Going green in the kitchen” seems to be the battle cry for 2010, and whether you flip through a magazine, watch the evening news or surf the Web, an endless stream of advice is continually dispensed regarding how we can all make the transition with very little effort or financial investment. If it’s really so easy, then why haven’t more of us taken the plunge? Perhaps the short answer is that it requires us to break a pattern of behavior that for many is as instinctual as breathing, making the notion of running a sustainable kitchen seem far more complicated than it really is. In the interest of making the process more digestible, here’s a very basic Green Kitchen 101 check list that every one of us can benefit from, even if we begin to incorporate just two or three points into our daily repertoire:
  • Adhere to a diet that includes less meat and far more local, organic produce. In addition to being healthier, cooking at home (rather than purchasing convenience or fast food) generates less waste, which is easier on the environment and your wallet.
  • Stop using disposable dishware/paper products and instead reacquaint yourself with washable, reusable and far more durable versions.
  • Place all of your organic household food scraps in a countertop collection bin and then add them to an outdoor compost pile.
  • Commit to using plant-based, biodegradable, chemical-free cleaning agents that contain no phosphates, either by whipping up homemade recipes or purchasing them from green-minded companies.
  • Only use your dishwasher when it is filled to capacity, or if you prefer to hand wash, don’t turn the water on until after you have thoroughly scrubbed everything first.
  • Recycle, repurpose, donate.
  • Use high-quality kitchen tools that are designed to last a long time rather than cheap, poorly made versions that end up in the landfill in record time.
  • Break yourself of the bottled water habit by installing a household/faucet-mounted water filtration system, or for a more affordable eco-option, use a BPA-free water-filtering pitcher such as Brita, since their filters are turned into 100% recycled Preserve products at the end of their usable life.
  • Purchase household staples in bulk (which eliminates unnecessary packaging) and store them in reusable glass, stainless steel or ceramic containers rather than plastic.
    The Flow2 Kitchen design
Doesn’t an all-in-one solution sound mighty good right about now? Two Oregon-based designers, John Arndt and Wonhee Jeong from Studio Gorm, apparently felt sympathetic toward well-intentioned but widespread eco-holdouts because they conjured up a very intriguing solution called the Flow2 Kitchen. Although it’s still just a conceptual design, the team’s portable green workstation features practical elements that would likely recruit perennial wasters to begin batting for team Mother Nature without skipping a beat, including a composting zone that can ultimately be used to nourish the kitchen herbs growing in the center of the counter as well as a built-in plant hydration system that cleverly harvests water draining off of freshly washed dishes. Their appropriately dubbed “flow kitchen” boasts an almost symbiotic dynamic between its carefully thought-out elements, enabling the user to maximize efficiency while minimizing waste — the ideal hallmarks of a smoothly running, eco-friendly kitchen. Its double-walled, unglazed earthenware countertop containers with sustainable beech wood tops, which generate an evapo-transpiration effect to naturally cool the contents within, give the typical energy-hogging refrigerator a run for its money. Eco-responsible consumers are reminded with this perfectly efficient system that so many of the edibles we automatically refrigerate would be equally as fresh if they were kept in naturally temperature-controlled containers, reducing our energy usage in the process. Our consumer culture programs us into thinking that we require a ready-made solution to accomplish our needs, but the fact of the matter is that anyone with a little DIY thinking can accomplish a similar Flow2 Kitchen effect with a bit of ingenuity. At the end of the day, bells and whistles do nothing more than create unnecessary distractions and household clutter, whereas with Arndt and Jeong’s strategically distilled concept, going green in the kitchen is within arm’s length. It’s the little things that really do add up over time. So, who’s tempted to rig their own makeshift dish-drying houseplant-watering rack?