Healthy Kitchen, Healthy World

Make sure the heart of your home is healthy for your family and safe for the planet.
illustration of person cooking and dancing in the kitchen
Illustration by Donna Grethen

Our kitchens should be a safe space where families create and serve healthy meals, but all too often there are toxic chemicals and other hazards lurking. When our kitchens are healthier, so is our planet.

The kitchen, after all, is closely linked to the climate, and our choices in the heart of our homes can be actions against climate change. The food we buy and eat has huge potential for benefits to our body and the planet. Agriculture, the way our food is grown, is one of the most important industries in the world, but also makes a major impact on the changing climate. The food supply chain includes cutting down trees to create grazing lands, cows passing gas, applying pesticides to plants, and the food that gets tossed without ever being tasted. The food supply chain is responsible for 16.5 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, according to a 2021 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report.

Read more about how your food choices can make your family and the climate healthier:

Then there’s the energy pent up in your kitchen. Besides heating and cooling, your refrigerator is the top energy consumer in your house, according to the US Energy Information Administration. These big appliances are historically cooled by hydrofluorocarbons (HFC gases), a super potent greenhouse gas. Now non-HFC refrigerators are coming to market that are cleaner and far more efficient than the models of years past.

Dirty energy and greenhouse gases have no place in your family dinner but they’re there—the natural gas that powers a gas stove comes from dirty energy and likely fracking that harms communities and the Earth in the US and around the world. Even when the stove is off, it’s leaking methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, according to a 2022 study from Stanford University. Plus it contributes to indoor air pollution that can lead to health problems like asthma, according to a 2013 study. By switching to clean energy like solar or wind and swapping out gas stoves for electric or induction models, we can save energy and money.

Then there’s the chemicals. There are tens of thousands of chemicals in use in US manufacturing, most of which are unregulated—so we don’t really know if they’re safe. Many of them likely are not. In the US in particular, regulating agencies allow industries to claim that their products are safe, even if there is no evidence. Plus, workers who are involved in making products with toxic chemicals, from plastics to cleaning supplies, are put at even more risk than we are.

As we find safe foods, protect our ourselves from toxic chemicals, and choose clean energy when we can, we also have the power to put pressure on companies to clean up their acts. Green America has long worked for consumers and workers in these crucial areas. Find our active campaigns to sign on to our actions or tell companies how you feel in a letter.

From Green American Magazine Issue