Best Green Cooking Practices

The eco-friendly kitchen begins with eating green but doesn’t end there. Energy-efficient food preparation and cleaning habits, using equipment made from sustainable materials, and dodging toxic chemicals are also important if you want to have a truly healthy kitchen. Fortunately, making the right choices for your wellbeing is also good for the pocket and the planet.

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Using energy-efficient appliances with the Energy Star rating can help reduce the amount of electricity used to cook. Energy-efficient refrigerators can reduce energy consumption and a water-efficient dishwasher can also help to conserve water. Making as best use of the oven as possible, such as cooking more than one thing at once, is also wise. For small dishes, using a toaster oven or reheating in a microwave will also save energy. In fact, Energy Star estimates that you can reduce cooking energy by as much as 80 percent when using the microwave instead of the oven. Many newer ovens come to temperature so rapidly that they make preheating almost obsolete.

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By Efrain Esparza, GMC Writer

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UNDERSTANDING THE WATER-ENERGY NEXUS

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The Water-Energy Nexus refers to the interconnectedness of our water and energy systems. Energy is required to extract, convey and deliver water of appropriate quality for diverse human uses, and again to treat wastewaters prior to their return to the environment. Thermoelectric power generation both withdraws large quantities of water for cooling and dissipates tremendous quantities of primary energy due to inefficiencies in converting thermal energy to electricity (“withdrawn” water is diverted from a surface water or groundwater source). Water treatment and distribution for both public drinking water supply and municipal wastewater require energy. The recent boom in domestic unconventional oil and gas development brought on by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling has added complexity to the national dialogue about the relationship between energy and water resources. Producing oil and natural gas through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has the potential to impact local water quantity and quality, which can be mitigated through fluid lifecycle management In addition, there is significant regional variability in the water and energy systems, their interactions, and resulting vulnerabilities. When severe drought began to affect more than a third of the U.S. in 2012, limited water availability constrained the operation of some power plants and other energy production activities. Future increased deployment of some energy technologies, such as carbon capture and sequestration, could lead to increases in the energy system’s water intensity, whereas deployment of other technologies, such as wind and solar photovoltaics, could lower it.

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By Efrain Esparza, GMC Writer

Wringing Out Water Waste: A New Way To Care For Your Jeans

Have you ever wondered how much water you use to wash your jeans? If you are a person that wears a pair of jeans once before washing them, you’re using a lot of water—more than you probably think. Over the life span of a pair of jeans, 3,781 liters of water are used from beginning to end. The measured life span includes: growing cotton, manufacturing, consumer care and disposal.

Levi Strauss & Company (LS&Co.) is dedicated to sustainability. In 2007, the company conducted a study to assess the environmental impact of a pair of jeans over the span of their lifetime. The Lifecycle Assessment Study (LCA) found that the two biggest energy and water impact areas were cultivation of cotton and consumer use. Based on further findings from the study, LS&Co. was able to change the way they produce jeans in order to decrease the environmental impact. LS&Co. established a water recycle and reuse standard of production, along with participating in water stewardship programs.

LS&Co. also created a quiz as part of a hashtag campaign, the #WashLess pledge, which allows anyone to find out his or her environmental impact based on how they use and take care of their jeans. The quiz covers topics such as region where one lives, how long one keeps a pair of jeans and how many times one wears a pair of jeans before washing.

According to LS&Co., if American consumers washed their jeans after 10 wears, water usage and climate change impact could be reduced by 77 percent. To find out your environmental impact through your jeans, take the quiz here.

By Kimberly Dallmann, GMC Writer

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Conserving Water When Prepping Thanksgiving Dinner

Photo Courtesy Of: plainvillefarms.com

Photo Courtesy Of: plainvillefarms.com

When you think of Thanksgiving dinner, what comes to mind? A big turkey or ham as the main course? Accent dishes such as stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and deviled eggs? Do you ponder what you’re thankful for at this moment in your life?

However you picture your Thanksgiving dinner and how you plan to celebrate it, one thing can be certain: there are a lot of ways to waste water while preparing your meal. Water conservation is important in everyday meal prep, however, it is especially important when preparing large meals. Here are a few tips on how you can prevent wasting water by doing things a little bit different:

Tips for:

Preparing dinner:

  • Defrost your main course in the fridge rather than using the cold water soak method. Make sure to consult the packaging to determine how long you will need to defrost before it is ready to be prepared and cooked
  • When making mashed potatoes, use the twice-baked method instead of boiling them to ensure that they are soft enough to mash
  • When preparing your food you might need to wash your hands in between dishes such as turkey and mashed potatoes. When washing your hands, eliminate water waste by turning off water in between lathering hands and rinsing them

Beverages:

  • Instead of automatically serving each person their own glass of water, only serve water to those who ask. This prevents water waste in case guests don’t want their water or don’t finish it. This also means one less dirty glass to wash

Washing dishes:

  • When hand-washing dishes, don’t fill up the sink basin with water. Instead, get your sponge or cloth sudsy and scrub your dishes one by one and set them aside. When all dishes have been scrubbed, begin to rinse one by one

          Thanksgiving is a very special holiday for many reasons and it’s a great day to spend with family and loved ones. Celebrate joyously, but celebrate sustainably!

Can you think of any other ways to conserve water when preparing meals? Comment below, we’d love to hear feedback!

For more information on the current state of the drought and water conservation, visit the blog of NRDC’s Tracy Quinn here!

By Kimberly Dallmann, GMC Writer