Green Chemistry - Tips

1. Eating & Drinking

Save Energy in the Kitchen - Put a lid on it!

What's the latest craze in the culinary world? "Lidded cooking!"  For the budding chef that lies within each and every one of us, we owe it to Mother Nature to try and cook in this slightly different way that will save the earth.

As its name suggests, Lidded Cooking – as popularized by British eco-food columnist Richard Ehrlich – promotes using lids on saucepans, frying pan or even Dutch ovens during cooking.  This reduces the amount of heat escaping from the cooking area, helps your food cook faster and in fact saves 8-14% in energy costs.  After all, why heat up the air when you are only trying to cook?

To bring yourself even closer to green cooking nirvana, follow Ehrlich's recommendation of cleaning the lid by wiping it instead of washing; assuming there is no fat to affect the microbial safety of the next dish it covers. You can also skip pre-heating your oven, since it takes only a short time to reach the required temperature (unless you are making something that is sensitive to temperature, such as bread).

Still aren't convinced?  A good way to prove this point is to boil a pot of water with a lid and one without a lid and time how long they take to boil. Then see how much difference there is in the setting needed to make each simmer.  Really, there's a reason pots have lids—so let's use them.  Bon appétit!

2. Minimize Waste

From bottles to cars

People are often unaware that the production of plastic bottles consumes a lot of fossil fuels, just like cars. Imagine a water bottle filled 25% with oil; that's about how much oil was needed to produce the bottle in your hand. Indeed, studies done on the River Thames show the carbon footprint of tap water is about 600 times lower than that of bottled mineral water.2 At the end of its lifecycle, most bottles end up in landfills and take thousands of years to decompose, adding to landfill crisis issues emerging in many cities in China.

With all these detrimental environmental impacts, it might come as no surprise that some have labeled the bottled water industry as "Big Water," in a reference to the "big oil" moniker used for large petrochemical companies!

A temporary convenience

What about the effects on consumers? Though disposable bottles may offer temporary convenience, the plastics used during its manufacture inevitably release toxins.3 Another hazard is the leaching of chemicals into the bottled water. This effect increases with heat and age, meaning we should be concerned about the storage and transportation of bottles.

Taking action

Try and avoid drinking bottled water or using plastic bottles unless absolutely necessary. Instead, keep a reusable metal or glass container – which has no leeching effect – when you are traveling. You could even talk to your favorite restaurants about not offering bottled water and instead giving tap water when asked.