The kitchen – seriously how much of a Mom’s time is spent here? For me, it’s where my three year old’s education primarily takes place. Eg. “We need six cups of flour, count with me: one, two, three…” Or there’s learning the colors with fruits and veggies: “What color is the banana? And the avocado? Yum!” For us, it’s also a great place for my children to pick up green habits.

In the New York Times Bestseller “The Green Book,” authors Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen outline keys areas for everyday living that will bring the biggest impact to our planet. I love this book, but their bit on the kitchen is especially useful. Of course there’s information about composting (remember, we discussed that, huzzah!), running full loads for your dishwasher, eating left overs (mmmm, Thanksgiving), and taking advantage of Energy Star Appliances.

But did you ever think about the importance of using cold water for your garbage disposal? (That is, of course, when you’re not composting.)  Or the importance of using the right-size pot on the stove? Rogers and Kostigen estimate “you could save about $36 annually for an electric range or $18 for a gas range.” Saving money, and saving the planet! Apparently, “five percent of the energy bought and used per person in the United States is for preparing and cooking food. Over a year, this exceeds twice the energy a person in Africa uses to power everything in his or her life.” Eeek…

And by keeping your microwave clean, you better maximize its energy. (Check out this great Make and Take for cleaning with citrus.) The less electricity you use, the less time cooking and less money spent. Typically microwaves are 3.5 to 4.8 times more energy efficient than traditional electric ovens.  Not that I’m advocating strictly cooking in your microwave. You know I’m a lover of the slow-food movement.

Which is why I’ve also adopted the practice of pre-heating my oven (primarily) for baked goods, and letting things that roast or cook or reheat do so with the “pre-heat.” By reducing the amount of time my oven is on by one hour per year, “The Green Book” says I can “save an average of two kilowatt-hours of energy. If 30 percent of U.S. households could each reduce total oven pre-heating time nby just one hour per year, the sixty million kilowatt-hours of energy saved could bake a dozen cookies for every American.”

That reminds me, I’ve got some chocolate chips that are dying to find a home. But first tell me, what green practices are working for you in the kitchen?

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