Home on the Range

I’ve gone to a few workshops at the UN DPI/NGO  conference and my overall impression is that organizers are aiming for abstract policy discussion rather than concrete sustainability application.

However, one nongovernmental organization breaks the trend. At the International Federation for Home Economics’ booth, a small metal cook stove and bags of both dried and cooked sweet potatoes showcase international efforts of the organization. The cook stove is meant to be a replacement for dangerous and smoky open fires women use for cooking in many African countries. The sweet potatoes are products of a Tanzanian branch of the organization that is teaching local residents how to plant and harvest the crop.

Pinned to the side of the booth is a list that is perhaps more practical and immediately applicable to many of us: Tips to save energy at your kitchen stove.

Here are a few:

  • Keep metal grease plates under burners clean to reflect heat
  • Keep the stovetop flame small — it shouldn’t go around the sides of the pan
  • Make sure the flame touches the bottom of the pan
  • Make sure the flame is bright blue for the most efficient heat
  • Turn off the cooking appliance a few minutes before the food is cooked
  • Cook food just before eating so you don’t have to reheat or keep it warm
  • Don’t preheat your oven (it’s usually not necessary)
  • Don’t cover your oven racks with aluminum foil
  • Defrost food in the refrigerator, not the microwave

In the midst of a lot of abstraction, these tips can make the concept of “sustainability” concrete and possible for us to implement when we get home.

What about you — what practical ways do you practice sustainability?

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One Response to Home on the Range

  1. Well, for starters… I live in Germany. If I don´t put my trash in the right recycling container I will get glared at. Secondly, my husband is German. He turns the heat off at 8:30pm in the winter. And lastly, my kids are half German. They ride their bikes to tennis lessons. So in conclusion, my American-self has been very positively influenced by my green host country. Danke schön.

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