Environment-friendly Kitchen Practices: Part III

They say old is gold. Is it true? Not for all things in the kitchen, but some of them can surely be put to the 3 R principle.

After the first two posts in the series commemorating the Earth Day, and pledging the support from responsible kitchens on How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle—By-products of food and How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle—Raw materials from food, let us now move on to the third in the series.

Avoid buying things that you can recycle easily.

Part III: How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle—Other kitchen “Wastes”

(Transforming castoffs into handy tools)

I agree it is good to keep the house, and especially the kitchen clutter-free. But just think. We throw out reusable stuff and buy fresh time and again, just because we can afford it. But can the Earth sustain this?

What if we can reduce our footprint on the Earth by giving a fresh lease of life to something? Here is my list.

Blunt knives

Every kitchen ends up with a few blunt knives. Usually they are sharpened or replaced.

However, hold on to one or two sturdy blunt knives. They are invaluable for opening vacuum-sealed jam jars, pickle jars etc. The blunt tip is perfect for the purpose of inserting at the cap to remove the vacuum. Why would you use your chef’s knife for this purpose?

A blunt knife is shown sawing open a antiseptic liquid bottle
Blunt knives are a must in every home

Blunt knives are also handy for sawing open the stubborn seals of medicine bottles.

They also work well for applying any kind of spread on breads.

Mason jars

Give bottles a fresh lease of life and avoid buying fresh ones every time you need them

Jams, relishes, preserves, coffee etc. come in very attractive and good quality jars. Clean them out, dry and keep them for reusing as handy containers for homemade ginger garlic pastes, salad dressings, purees, and jams. I also use them for décor and to hold the odd money plant in various corners or inside a more ornate vase.

(Just beware, keep a designated spot and space for these jars. Once they overflow that area, give some away or send them for recycling…else you will soon be swamped by “someday it will be useful” stuff!)

Pots and pans you no longer use

OK, I know this may not be relevant to the newly set up kitchen.

But for the older kitchen, this is an obvious one that is often overlooked due to our busy life. You can give these away to any needy person. Recycle them in thrift stores, flea markets and white elephant stalls, where they will be loved and used by someone else. Be generous, and keep your kitchen from overflowing with things you no longer use.

Thick old pressure cookers that have lost shape over the years cannot be used for pressure cooking anymore. However, they can be used for other cooking purposes and put away until next time. Here are three suggestions:

An old vessel is converted into an oven by layering sand at the bottom. A trivet is placed on it.
Hot Air Oven
  1. As a utensil for making Indian sweets that requires a long time on the flame. The thickness of the vessel prevents it from burning easily.
  2. As a simple hot air oven. Simply fill 3 inches of the cooker with clean construction/ river sand and place it on low heat. Once the sand is really hot, ( in about 10 to 15 minutes, you feel the heat radiating from it) place a metal trivet on the sand. Place your baking dish with the batter/ cookies on the trivet with the help of your cooking tongs. Cover the cooker with a strong metal lid. Place a heavy stone on the lid. Reduce the heat. The cake will be done in a very short time.
  3. An old pressure cooker is also great for making naan at home…use it as a small tandoor! I’ll soon post on how this can be done to make awesome naans.

Use pretty enamelware that have chipped or developed cracks to contain pots of small plants.

Strong, plastic or foil coated bags/ covers

Some thick foil lined covers stored for later use
Put away good covers for reuse

Don’t simply chuck out the bags that cereal (like cornflakes or muesli) are packed in, as they are very useful resources. After you pour the contents into an airtight box, fold them up and tuck into a corner of the fridge, with a rubber band around them to keep them compact, till you need them.

These thick and extremely good quality covers are ideal for packing over-sized sandwiches for picnics.

Two cereal covers are shown open with cut up vegetables and some aluminium foil wrapped food in them
Food safe and hygienic recycling helps reduce the burden on the Earth

Use them in the freezer for storing blanched peas. They also provide an extra protective cover for containing wrapped up meats or fish. This also prevents contamination.

Old tins as flour dusting boxes.

You will find it sooo useful to have a little flour dusting box of your own when a surface has to be dusted with flour. You can easily fashion it with an old tin. Simply pierce holes on the lid with a nail. Read a more detailed instruction at https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2014/12/diy-flour-shaker/

Returning containers

While we all have started taking bags along for our shopping, let’s take it a step forward. Return egg cartons, plastic cases in which we bought fruit and also cardboard boxes/plastic covers that contained produce to shops that are ready to responsibly reuse or recycle them. We automatically reduce the burden on the Earth and all its other (non-human) innocent members who are affected by our selfishness.

Our Planet Deserves our Help

Let us all pledge to do our bit. Don’t laugh it off. I know some will, but because each kitchen is generating tons of garbage, and a small effort will go a long way.

So how do you convert your kitchen to one that respects the Earth? Do share in the comments section below.


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