What is sustainability?
Sustainability means to sustain, support and uphold yourself or a situation.
In the environmental sense, this means not causing harm to the environment or depleting natural resources, thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.
The kitchen is the heart of any house. We spend a lot of time in and out of the kitchen; making it sustainable will largely improve your quality of life and also of our environment.
Here is a 5-step guide to make your kitchen sustainable:
1. Save Water
This is troublesome and highly unsustainable.
To get an estimate: Every person in communities with a population of 20,000 to 1,00,000 uses 100-150 litres of water. Meanwhile, in communities with a population of over 1,00,000 use 150-200 litres of water is consumed per person.
– Here are a few ways in which you can save water in your kitchen:
- Clean your vegetables in a large bowl and reuse the water you use to wash your vegetables to water your plants.
- For every litre of water purified in your water purifier, 650 ml goes to waste. Divert that water and store it and reuse it in your kitchen for cleaning.
- ‘Fix leaks, if any. We simply cannot afford to lose water over leaks. Similarly, do not leave taps open between tasks.
- Fill your glass only up to where you know you can drink. If you are thirsty after, you can always refill.
2. Always Compost
Composting sounds like a complex process but, trust us, it is not. You can very easily make compost for your plants using vegetable remains, fruit peels, coffee, grains, and other foods that you might otherwise throw out.
– Here is how you can start composting your kitchen wet matter right in your kitchen:
- Sperate and store your vegetable and fruit remains, grains, seeds, and other wet waste in a container.
- In another small container, collect dry organic matter such as dried leaves, sticks, etc.
- For your composting container, use an earthen pot with 4-5 holes to its bottom for aeration.
- Line your composting container with a layer of soil, then a layer of wet material, followed by a layer of dry organic matter. Continue doing so until the composting container is full.
- Regularly toss and turn the compost for aeration.
- Cover the composting bin to retain moisture and heat.
Give this set-up 6-8 weeks and use the compost for your home plants.
3. Sustainable Food Habits
Time for some self-analysis. Are your food habits sustainable? Is the answer no? Read on.
Let’s understand what comes under sustainable food consumption. Sustainable food habits are about avoiding food wastage, eating locally grown, and eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet according to your geography.
Here are a few food habits you can adopt for sustainable food habits:
a. Avoid wastage
How can you avoid food wastage? It’s simple-
- Serve only as much you can eat. You can always help yourself to second serving rather than throwing out by over-serving.
- Do not shop in bulk. Many products have shelf-life, and when not used before they expire, they end up in your dustbin from your fridge turned bad.
- Leftovers taste better the next day. Leftovers from the previous night? Eat them the next day. You can do so by storing them in your fridge in airtight containers to prevent them from going bad and reheating them for the next day.
- Once you have used your teabag, you can sundry them and use them in your shoes to help with odour.
- You can very easily reuse a lot of fruits and vegetables. E.g., When you are done eating watermelon, the outer can be washed and made into a delicious watermelon rind sabji. Similarly, you can save leftover veggies, refrigerate them and make vegetable stock out of them.
b. Be a responsible shopper
Watching your consumption is the first step to saving resources and adapting to a sustainable lifestyle. Here is what you can do to be a better shopper.
- Eat seasonally. Certain fruits and vegetables are available in only a particular season. They are suitable for you in those weathers and temperatures. Plus, seasonal fruits are cheaper and fresh.
- Eat locally. Your vegetables and fruits should not travel more than 150 km to reach your plate.
- Store your veggies and fruits wisely. You do not want them to end up at the back of your garbage bin.
- Buy responsibly. Watch what you buy and how it affects the environment.
- Support local vendors by shopping locally. They have better produce and are a lot cheaper than supermarkets.
4. Reduce plastic
Eventually, your aim is to become a plastic-free kitchen. Plastic of all grades, however feasible and easy to use, is terrible for the environment.
Tips to reduce plastic in your kitchen-
- Whenever buying new kitchenware, opt for steel, copper, and glass over plastic.
- Carry a cloth bag when shopping. This is a great and easy way to reduce plastic bags.
- Store your fruits and veggies in cloth bags. This makes them last longer. Aim for a plastic-free fridge.
- Always carry a glass or steel water bottle so you can avoid buying packaged water.
- Replace your old plastic bottles with glass and steel ones.
5. Sustainable Energy and Resources
Your kitchen is not limited to your food and cookware. Your appliances, lights, gas are right along with it. Saving energy today is making it available for generations to come.
Here are a few ways in which you can save energy in your kitchen-
- Buy appliances that are energy efficient.
- Turn off lights, fans, and gas when not in use.
- Use energy-efficient cooking methods. E.g., A pressure cooker dramatically reduces cooking time by using high pressure and high heat. Which saves you two-thirds of the time and energy used in some other utensils.
The points covered above are only some baby steps to becoming a sustainable kitchen. Make efforts, however small they might seem, they make a big difference.
- Save water however you can.
- Composting is a wholesome activity and works out great for the environment.
- Be a responsible shopper, shop seasonally and locally.
- Swear off plastic.
- Be observant and stingy about your energy needs.