The New Year Carbon Diet
William Vooght, innovation and product manager at Good Energy, writes how cutting your carbon footprint can start in your kitchen.
For many of us, the start of a new year predictably means the same thing every time: a vacuous bank account and a new year’s resolution to shift the post-Christmas pounds.
But whilst you’re cutting calories, Good Energy has been leading an initiative to get you slimming your carbon footprint in the kitchen too.
The kitchen accounts for over a third of the average household’s electricity consumption. Reducing your carbon footprint in the kitchen could mean reduced energy bills, and it doesn’t have to mean a diet of raw vegetables and taking your dirty dishes into the bath with you.
A few simple changes are all it takes to make a real difference. So why not cut your carbon footprint whilst you cut calories, by following our simple resolutions for the New Year.
Vegetarian sources of protein, like grains, pulses and nuts, have a carbon footprint about three times smaller than meat products so try to base more of your meals around them.
If you do like to eat meat and fish try to use it sparingly, as a flavour rather than the main ingredient – animal protein is not necessary for a healthy diet.
And buy organic from a farm shop or farmers’ market wherever possible for higher welfare standards and more sustainable production methods.
A fridge is the most energy-hungry appliance in the kitchen – because it is functioning all the time.
The fridge is most efficient when it’s three quarters full, and for every minute the door is open it can take around three minutes to cool it back down. So keep the items you use the most easily accessible.
Avoid placing your fridge near heat sources like a boiler, cooker, dishwasher and radiator as it can use up to 15% more energy. Don’t put warm food in the fridge – but do use it to defrost things overnight.
Microwaves and slow cookers are the eco-champions of the kitchen. A slow cooker can cost less than 10p to run on a low heat for six hours. Simply pop the ingredients in before work and a warming casserole will greet you on your return in the evening.
A slow cooker is typically the most energy efficient method of cooking, followed by an electric steamer, microwave and then a hob. Match pan size to hob size carefully – using a small pan on a large hob wastes energy.
Using a steamer to cook in layers means you can use just one hob and cook three different vegetables at once.
Keen cooks will find it difficult to avoid using a conventional oven but there are ways to increase efficiency.
When the oven is on, make the most of it by cooking several dishes. For example, roast some vegetables simultaneously which can be used for soup, cold in a salad or for tomorrow’s office lunch.
Consider batch cooking and freezing or doing a roast and a cake at the same time. When the oven has been turned off, the residual heat can be used to make croutons and dry herbs and chillies.
Good Kitchen Guide challenge
Now you know the basics, why not try the seven day carbon-cutting challenge from Good Energy’s Good Kitchen Guide and find out how easy it is to make a few small changes?
Day 1 – Enjoy a meat-free meal, such as our sweetcorn griddle cakes. If you’re already a vegetarian, then go vegan once a week. If you’re already a vegan, you’re done!
Day 2 – Group dining. Get everyone together for a family meal so you’re only cooking once.
Day 3 – Get creative with leftovers. Instead of buying fresh ingredients, take a look at the back of the fridge and the larder and make something tasty from what’s left over – curry is usually a good option!
Day 4 – No cooking day. Have something raw, cold, delicious and extra nutritious
Day 5 – Make a one-pot meal. Casseroles, risottos, soups are all good. Even better if it’s made in a slow cooker.
Day 6 – Give the kitchen an energy audit. Defrost the freezer, descale the kettle (all you need is vinegar), and clean the oven and stove top: shiny surfaces reflect heat better so more energy goes into cooking your food.
Day 7 – Switch to Good Energy. We supply 100% renewable energy with a carbon footprint of zero.
For more tips on low carbon cooking and some delicious recipes from green chef Arthur Potts Dawson, visit Good Energy’s Good Kitchen Guide.
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