Think Green

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Go green in the kitchen

Adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle is a great way to protect the planet for future generations. As the "go green" movement continues to grow in popularity, men and women are realizing more and more ways to reduce their carbon footprints.

While some might still associate making green strides with carpooling and changing light bulbs, those are not the only ways men and women who want to be more eco-friendly can accomplish their goals. One method to find new ways to be more environmentally friendly is to examine a favorite hobby and think of ways to enjoy that hobby in a way that also benefits the environment. Foodies, for example, can take a look around their kitchens to find ways where their love of cooking and food can be joined together with their desires to be more eco-friendly. The following are just a few ways to go green in the kitchen.

* Banish bottled water in favor of filters. Bottled water can be very wasteful, even when bottles are made from recycled materials. Energy is necessary to produce, ship and dispose of plastic water bottles. But bottled water can be easily replaced with water filters, which filter contaminants, such as lead, from tap water to create a refreshing beverage that's readily available at any home connected to a water supply. Water-filtering pitchers are inexpensive, which cannot always be said about bottled water that needs to be periodically restocked. Faucet-mounted filters can be directly attached to the faucet to make the process of filtering water that much easier.

* Reconsider how you store leftovers. Many people store their leftovers in plastic containers. While such containers might seem convenient, even ones made from recycled plastic are not necessarily as eco-friendly as consumers may think. That's because plastic containers are made from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource. Instead, eco-conscious foodies can opt for glass or ceramic containers rather than the more popular plastic alternatives.

* Feed your lawn after you feed yourself. Many people don't like to throw away food, but it's not just leftovers that can be repurposed. Coffee grounds and eggshells can be put to use in the garden. You can add them to the compost pile in your yard, where items you would otherwise discard can help enrich the soil, making for healthier lawns and gardens.

* Fire up the dishwasher only when it's full. Dishwashers are typically more eco-friendly than washing dishes by hand, but only when the men and women loading those dishwashers refrain from running them until they are entirely full. Once the dishwasher is full, choose an efficient setting and let the dishes air dry rather overnight instead of drying them with heat. If you need the dishes for hosting duties, dry them by hand with a towel instead of drying with heat.

* Rely on smaller appliances. Many home cooks rely on large appliances when working in the kitchen. But unless you're cooking for a big group, use smaller, more efficient appliances to save energy. For example, when cooking for one or two, use a toaster oven instead of a stove. The toaster oven won't use the same amount of power as the stove, and the smaller appliance may even cook the food faster. In addition, when heating water for tea, hot chocolate or coffee, use an electric kettle to heat water instead of the oven cooktop. The smaller appliance is more efficient and won't consume as much energy.

Those who spend ample time in the kitchen have myriad opportunities to make that time more eco-friendly and efficient.