14 ways to reduce your Kitchen's Carbon Footprint...

.....and such similar thoughts post World Environment Day

Bamboo trees at Kaveri Nisarga Dama near Coorg

Earth, in which lie the sea, river and other waters, in which food and cornfields have come to be, in which lives all that breathes and moves, may she confer on us the finest of her yield.

Earth, in which the waters, common to all, moving on all sides, flow unfailingly, day and night, may she pour on us milk in many streams, and endow us with lustre, May those born of thee, O Earth, be of our welfare, free from sickness and waste, wakeful through a long life, we shall become bearers of tribute to thee.

Earth, my mother, set me securely with bliss in full accord with heaven, O wise one, uphold me in grace and splendour.

Atharva Veda

June 5 is 'celebrated' as World Environment Day and here I was mourning over it. Reading about the global warming and how the environment in the big cities is slowly becoming irrepairable is reason enough to mourn. But it is also a reason enough to put our act together to bettering the environment, in our own small way.

What is Carbon Footprint?
A Carbon Footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide.

Small changes in the way we work in the kitchen, can make a huge difference to the environment. Here are some of them.

  1. Use natural light whenever available. No point keeping your curtains / blinds shut and then using lights indoors in the day time.

  2. If you are using bulbs to light up your place, switch to CFL bulbs right now. CFL bulbs waste less energy, heat up the place less and last longer. Check http://www.banthebulb.org

  3. Heating up water? If you need two cups water for tea, fill your kettle with only two cups. A lot of energy will be wasted heating up a kettle full of water and then throwing out the unused water.

  4. Solar heaters are very popular in the South of India, with new constructions having their own solar heating devices. India has an abundance of sunlight and we must use it to our advantage, so must other sun rich places.

  5. Do you keep the microwave, the blender/mixer, the laptop on standby mode? What is the cooling level in your refrigerator? I am guilty of not having paid attention to this until a few months ago.Keeping appliances on standby does consume a lot of electricity over time. If you are in the kitchen, don't let fans, lights and TV be running in other rooms.

  6. If you are using the oven, plan in such a way that you bake 2-3 dishes together, or for a smaller over, keep the next batch ready so that the oven doesn't need to be preheated for the second cycle.

  7. Please learn to use a pressure cooker if you don't use it already. Cooking rice, vegetables, lentils gets done in almost 1/10 th of the time it takes to cook them by boiling. This means you would have consumed 5-10 times the energy by not using a pressure cooker.

  8. If your city certifies that the tap water is potable, then go ahead and use tap water. Bottled water just increases the plastic load in the environment.

  9. Use your public market as against super markets whenever possible. The stuff there is local, they haven't be flown in (air travel increases carbon load in environment tremendously), besides all open air markets, especially in India, use natural air and lighting.

  10. When you go shopping in outdoor markets, take your own cloth / jute bag. Say no to bringing in any extra plastic at home. I carry a huge canvas bag to bring in my veggies and fruits from the outdoor market.

  11. Do a planned kitchen supplies & grocery shopping so that you get things done in one trip. Carpool and go shopping with friends, you can enjoy, save fuel and also reduce emissions.

  12. Use steel or glass crockery, avoid plastic plates and glasses at all costs. For picnics, carry paper cups and plates, these can be recyled into paper once again. The plastic will stay on for a million years if thrown around. When we were kids, there was hardly any kid in the class who would get a plastic lunch box, it was steel all the way and today I think even kids have been programmed to think of plastic as fashionable and steel as downmarket!

  13. Please don't run dishwashers and washing machines with a less-than-full load. This wastes a lot of power. If your kitchen sink has a hot water funtion, use the hot water judiciously.

  14. Grow as much greenery as your house will permit. Use small earthern pots, plastic food containers that you'd throw away otherwise, broken tea cups to grow small herbs and plants. It will liven up your kitchen incredibly, give you a steady supply of herbs and not to mention all the extra oxygen supply - and all you need is a corner or a window sill.

The biggest problem we in India today face is the "Ek mere se kya hoga?" (in Hindi for -What difference will one person make?) mentality. But imagine, if everyone started thinking like this, then we would have successfully managed to sully our environment by several notches and imagine the vice versa would be true too. If each one just managed their house and its immediate surroundings, the day wont be far when we can boast of a clean, environmentally sound city.

If you have any tips on how we can better the environment, in our own little way, please add it on! We can all do with learning from other's experiences.

More reading - Carbon Footprint , Bulb fiction

(Written for foodblogging community at Dining Hall)