Start your kitchen cooking with Green Living tips

Photo: Yek Mang
We leave a big environmental footprint in the kitchen. Here are some suggestions from our Green Tips guide to help make your culinary feet smaller. Is your fridge a star? As with all household appliances, the ENERGY STAR symbol makes it easy to invest up front in an energy (and money!) saver. If your fridge is more than 10 years old, it uses two-thirds more energy than a new one will. And that old clunker you've got in the basement might be keeping the beer cold, but it's sucking back a cool $175 on your hydro bill every year. In the meantime, while you're working out the math on buying a new one, make sure your current fridge isn't set at too cold a temperature. Repair the door seal and clean the coils in the back and the air intake down below, to make sure the fridge is operating at peak efficiency. Set your fridge and freezer at reasonable temperatures: 3-5°C for the fridge, -17 to -15°C for the freezer. And consider updating to a more efficient model. Dirty dishes - increase the load! Be sure to run your dishwasher only when it is full. And good news for whoever's on clean-up duty tonight: pre-rinsing those dishes in the sink not only wastes water but doesn't improve cleaning results. Skip the pre-rinse and you'll save loads of water. And if you open the door to let dishes air dry, you'll cut your dishwasher's energy consumption by 10%. Hand-wash small dish loads in the sink; run a regular wash only when the machine is full. ENERGY STAR dishwashers use 25% less power than less efficient models. Pump up the recycling Ever since recycling programs were implemented, everyone has deemed themselves an environmentalist. The sad thing is, only 30% of consumer packaging is actually being recycled. So there's lots more to add to the recycling bin. . Plastics, paper products, even junk mail all get a second life through the blue box program Throw in anything paper Newspapers, magazines, phone books, cardboard boxes and packaging, junk mail, brochures, envelopes... anything that is paper waste. Don't forget to include plastic tubs like yogurt or margarine containers, and most plastic product packaging. Most plastic containers have a special recycling number imprinted on the bottom.The numbers range from 1 to 6.Your municipality will tell you what numbers they accept. Whenever you can, give it a second life through your recycling box. by Gillian Deacon