They say the sustainable kitchen is the heart of the home, and that’s true for a slew of reasons. For one thing, it becomes a de facto gathering place, especially when there’s food out for the taking. Enjoying a meal with loved ones will undoubtedly create memories you will cherish forever.

Still, there are a few things you can do to make your kitchen even better than it is now. Namely, you can begin to run yours with sustainability in mind. We must all adopt eco-friendly practices to ensure the planet’s health for years to come. Protecting the Earth will allow us to keep making memories in our kitchens and beyond.

Sustainable kitchen ideas

Here are five starting projects for your sustainable kitchen.

1. Invest in Lasting Accessories

How do your pots and pans look? If they’re made of Teflon, chances are they don’t look good. The nonstick chemical makes it breezy to whip up notoriously tacky foods, such as pancakes, as they’ll slide right out of the pan. However, there’s plenty of debate about the safety of the carbon-based coating. When heated, older Teflon-covered pots used to release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFA), which had links to everything from kidney disease to testicular cancer to thyroid disorders.

Newer Teflon doesn’t have PFOA, but pre-2013 models came with the compound. Regardless, people still debate its safety. Either way, pans and pots coated with it don’t seem to last as long as their more solidly constructed counterparts. To cut down on waste in your kitchen, swap out Teflon pans for the kinds that’ll last for a lifetime. We’re talking stainless steel and cast-iron cookware — the latter can last for generations.

The same goes for the rest of your culinary accouterments. Make sure to select cutlery, knives and cooking utensils made of high-quality materials so you don’t have to replace them.

2. Swap Out Cleaning Products

Here’s another area where chemicals should be of the utmost concern. Everything from your dishwashing detergent to floor cleaner to countertop disinfectant comes laden with synthetic compounds. Once released in the air, they can be a detriment to the environment and your health, too.

Swap traditional cleaning products for all-natural versions. Plenty of companies whip up chemical-free compounds that work just as effectively as the ones you use now. You could also forgo store-bought cleaners altogether in favor of homemade versions. You’ll need to stock up on tried-and-true elements such as lemons, vinegar and baking soda. These ingredients can cut through grease and germs. In fact, they’re strong enough to use if you want to clean your outdoor grill, let alone your kitchen.

Sustainable Kitchen includes a garden

3. Update Appliances Wisely

It seems like updated versions of our go-to kitchen appliances appear on the market constantly. The good news is, many of them arrive with improved energy efficiency, which makes them more sustainable. However, you shouldn’t chuck your current appliance collection for the sake of an updated version alone.

If you do feel like your fridge, dishwasher or oven has been lagging, try repairing it first. Otherwise, be sure to dispose of your old appliances properly. Most will contain materials that can be hazardous if they break down in a landfill. Responsible recycling centers will ensure they’re disposed of correctly.

Once it’s time to shop, try not to look for the snazziest upgrades — do you really need a touch screen on your fridge? Instead, seek appliances that will last for as long as possible. Make sure you select something with an Energy Star seal of approval. The government-backed program ensures products meet energy-efficiency standards.

4. Choose Recycled Goods Where Possible

Your greenest bet is to make your current kitchen work without a major renovation. However, if you must rip out and replace everything, then make sure you do so with sustainable standards in mind.

Recycle everything you can post-demolition. Then, seek replacement products that have also had a previous life. You will be amazed by the gently loved floors, cabinets and other materials you can find. Furniture counts, too — antiques or even thrifted pieces can look even better than brand new products.

Otherwise, scope out green materials to help you complete your renovation. You’ll find gorgeous countertops comprised of recycled paper or floors made of highly sustainable bamboo. Best of all, these materials look just as impressive as their non-Sustainable counterparts, so your kitchen will look slick and modern.

5. Buy in Bulk

Transforming your kitchen into a hub of sustainability doesn’t just have to do with the space itself. Your cooking should be eco-friendly, too.

Buying in bulk stands as one of the best ways to make your culinary exploits sustainable. For one thing, smaller portions or individual-sized products come with more packaging. Buying in bulk helps you cut down on your plastic usage. Plus, when you have more ingredients on hand, you don’t have to drive to and from the store as often. Saving this step means you use less fuel.

If you can, cook in bulk, too. You only have to fire up the oven once to whip up a huge pot of soup, for example. You can freeze or refrigerate the leftovers and reheat them down the line, rather than spending an hour over the stove every time you want soup.

Don’t forget that you can buy other products in bulk, too. Aside from your edibles, you can also pick up household items like paper towels. To make things even greener, seek the more durable rolls used for detailing cars —hopefully, yours is electric— and other intensive tasks. They tend to be thicker and more durable, meaning you will use less at a time in the kitchen.

Go Green in Your Home

In conclusion, to build a sustainable kitchen, you have to choose the right materials. To keep it that way, you have to use them wisely. You have all the tools to go eco-friendly in your home’s culinary center. Now! It’s time to go green with a sustainable kitchen.

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