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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds Hi there, Mike, good to see you. This is like a typical kitchen. What are the kind of areas we should be looking at if we’re trying to live more sustainably? Hi, Tom. Well, maybe we could start with the cookers. In this kitchen, there are two ovens. You have a traditional fan oven here, electric fan oven. It looks quite ancient but functional. And we also have a microwave oven. And the microwave oven uses a lot less electricity to cook the food than the fine oven would do. But obviously, you’re foods going to taste different if you microwave it rather than put it in a fan oven.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 seconds So you have a bit of a dilemma here as to whether you want your food to taste nice and browned and cooked the way you like to eat it or whether you want to save energy and use the microwave instead and have your food quicker. It’s an choice, isn’t it, between saving energy and enjoying the food you want? Definitely, I’d always like my food to taste nice. So maybe there’s a compromise to be made there. What other areas can be addressed in the kitchen? Well, let’s look at the fridge. OK, more electrical appliances. Yeah, so we have a fridge here. It looks reasonably new. although, there’s no energy rating on it. OK, is that a problem?

Skip to 1 minute and 22 seconds It’s not so much as a problem, but you won’t know how much electricity this fridge is going to use. So there’s no way in really comparing it, unless you put the monitor at the back to monitor how much electricity you’re using to keep your food nice and fresh. That makes sense. If we look inside, there’s various foods in here which we’re not going to talk about in depth. The one thing I would point out with this fridge is it’s quite empty. And that can be an issue in terms of keeping it at a constant temperature.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 seconds It’s better, rather than stocking your fridge with lots of food, you can fill it with bottles of just tap water to try and keep the temperature constant in your fridge. The other thing is not to have the door open too often as well or for too long. So we better close that now. Keep that closed. Nice. Great. Is the kettle an important part of the kitchen? The kettle is very important, yes. We use– about 4% of our daily electricity consumption can be used boiling kettles for cups of tea and coffee. The kettle here, it’s got a gauge on it, which is good. So you can tell how much water you’re boiling. Although, the minimum here is 1/2 litre. OK, wow.

Skip to 2 minutes and 36 seconds So that’s quite a lot. A bit more than a cup of tea. Yeah, a big cup of tea, maybe enough tea for two. If we look inside, it’s an electric kettle. But the element is one of these fairly old-fashioned elements here, which has two problems. One is that it means that you have to fill it with more water to cover that element, otherwise you’re going to destroy the kettle. Hence, minimum. And it also takes longer to boil a cup of tea with one of these than one of the modern flatter elements. So as well as being slightly more energy efficient, you don’t have to wait around so long for your cup of tea.

Skip to 3 minutes and 14 seconds The flat elements are better sustainably than these older ones. Yes, they’re better. Interesting. I guess tea and coffee is the main staple with the kettle. Is that a sustainable way of drinking? Or is there anything we can improve there? Again, we’ve got some choices here. We’ve got two brands of coffee. One of them hasn’t got any labelling on the front as to whether it’s sustainable. It’s got something at the back about the company being committed to help the environment. But it’s a bit vague there. Whereas, the other brand of coffee here we have a fair trade certificate. It’s recognisable. I’ve seen that before.

Skip to 3 minutes and 50 seconds Yes, so it’s independently verified as being good for the people that are producing the coffee in terms of wages and living conditions.

Skip to 4 minutes and 0 seconds And we’ve got some tea, again, another fair trade branded cup of tea. I went to a tea plantation in India for a few years ago, and looking around there, it wasn’t one that was fair trade. But the working conditions left a lot to be desired. There’s lots of signs on the wall telling people to work hard and to get on and do their work and not take breaks. And so I got the impression it wasn’t a very nice occupation to be a tea picker in that plantation. That’s interesting then. So the decisions we make even over our tea and coffee can affect a lot of people’s lives around the world, just a simple decision like that.

Skip to 4 minutes and 36 seconds Thousands of miles away, yeah. Interesting choice. What else do we have? We’ve got some, again, fair trade sugar and some fair trade hot chocolate as well. So maybe we’ll have a cup of that a bit later. Looks like these guys are doing quite well then with their fair trade drinks. Yeah, they’re making a difference. That’s really good. Thanks very much, Mike. I’m going to go and find Helen, but I’ll see you in a bit. You’re welcome.

What's in your kitchen?

Watch the video to join Thom as he meets our engineer, Mike Clifford, in the typically British kitchen of Cripps House for a discussion about sustainability at home. Those of you in China can also view this video on our Tudou channel.

Think about: the sustainability issues in your own kitchen (which may be very different to the one in Cripps House). What problems do you have that others might be able to solve? Can you offer a solution to anyone else?

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This video is from the free online course:

Sustainability, Society and You

The University of Nottingham