Earth Day is right around the corner and it’s easy to say “go green in your kitchen.” But it’s a lot harder to actually do.
There will be a small buzz in the media for about a week about Earth Day and then it’s gone. And much of our country goes back to consuming everything in excess. So, if we know all of the plastic, the waste, and the energy is using precious resources, why don’t we make a change? I don’t proclaim to be any sort of expert in human psychology, but I have learned that change is hard.
Despite that it’s difficult, today, I want to encourage you to go green in your kitchen. Commit to making even just a couple changes in your kitchen and in your life this year to reduce your waste.
I certainly have a lot of room to grow in my quest to be more environmentally friendly, but hopefully a few more small changes this year will continue to push me towards my goal and help me to be a better steward of the earth.
Go Green in Your Kitchen
1. Reduce Your Consumption of Processed Food
This won’t only benefit the earth, but also your health! Whole foods generally involve much less packaging than processed foods. However, think of the extra trash soda, cookies, and other processed foods create. On the other hand, fruit, vegetables and meat generally have minimal packaging.
2. Reduce Food Waste.
Utilize Your Freezer!
- Freeze cooked food that you know you won’t eat or make in time.
- Cut fruit and vegetables that will perish soon and freeze to use later.
- A full freezer actually uses less energy!
Take advantage of bulk food bins!
The best part about bulk food bins is that you can take as much or as little as you need. Buying only what you need will keep you from having an excess of rarely used ingredients.
Eat your leftovers!
It not only saves the planet, but also your sanity by not having to cook every night! With a new baby in the house right now, leftovers are my lifeline to healthy eating.
3. Clean Green.
Creating a healthy kitchen involves lots of cleaning( unfortunately for those of us who don’t love to clean)! And cleaning products (sprays, dish soap, and paper towels) can be toxic to the environment. Whether you decide to make your own, invest in some better products, or switch to a product such as Norwex cloths that minimize your need for cleaners, choosing greener cleaners is sure to benefit your health as well as the environment!
4. Stop buying water bottles.
This is a BIG one. If your quest to drink more water involves buying cases of water bottles, consider purchasing a water filtration system. We use and love our Berkey Water Filter (we have this one.) And if you know me at all, you know I literally have a cabinet full of water bottles and glass cups to use at home. No need to drink out of plastic at all!
5. Reduce Electricity.
Obviously, cooking takes electricity. There is really no way around that. However, you can reduce your energy consumption in your kitchen in a few ways:
- Make larger batches of food at one time. For example, baking a 9 x 13 pan of chicken uses the same energy as an 8 x 8 pan of chicken.
- Use your crock pot! It turns out crock pots are pretty energy efficient – more than your oven for sure!
- Air dry our dishes as opposed to using the hot dry on your dishwasher!
- Unplug appliances you don’t use often. While it might not be convenient or practical to unplug your oven between uses, you can unplug smaller and less frequently used appliances to save energy!
6. Use reusable shopping bags.
Did you know in the US alone approximately 60,000 plastic bags are being used every 5 seconds? And while you may see recycling bins for them, they are incredibly hard to recycle. Many nonrenewable resources are used in making the bags, they are very difficult to be recycled, and they simply don’t break down in the landfill.
These ubiquitous plastic bags are causing huge environmental impacts to wildlife and nature.
I generally start my shopping at Aldi and LOVE their model. They make you be more sustainable by either using your own reusable bags, boxes you find in the store, or buying bags.
However, I’m notorious for forgetting to bring in my own bags when I run into other groceries. After refreshing my memory on what’s so bad about plastic bags, I think I’m going to make this my big goal for the next year. I wish all stores would actually start charging for the bags!
7. Choose sustainable food.
Sustainable food could easily be an article in itself. There are many different thoughts on food suitability. But, to narrow it down to a few actionable steps, here’s how you can get started today:
- Grow your own garden.
- Head to your local farmer’s market to purchase what you can.
- Find a local farmer or co-op to buy your food from.
- Buy in season produce.
- Bonus: Find food that has sustainable packaging
8. If you have a Keurig or single serve coffee maker, use a reusable filter.
Keurig’s have become increasingly popular over the past 10 years. Unfortunately, they can create a lot of plastic in the landfills with their K-cups. But they don’t have to. Buy a reusable filter and fill it up the night before, or buy several and prepare a few days at once. I especially love this stainless steel filter.
9. Use cloth napkins and paper towels.
I haven’t switched on cloth yet to these, but I have certainly tried to limit my use of paper towels. However, I have been cloth diapering my baby and I now realize it would likely be relatively simple to switch to cloth napkins and paper towels. This may be one of the changes I pick to improve on this year.
For what we can’t reduce or reuse, we should recycle! Like anything, if you plan to recycle you should set up a system to be successful. My parents have one of the most successful recycling systems I’ve seen thanks to my super organized mom. They keep a trashcan in their entry way (which is conveniently right off the kitchen and leads to the garage) and a large recycling station in the garage. They can quickly throw recyclables into the can inside and when it’s full they sort it into the bins in their station in the garage. Then, when they take it to the center, it’s already sorted and ready!
Becoming a Better Environmental Steward
Choosing to make decisions that honor our environment are similar to those that honor our own health. First and foremost, remembering our why helps to keep us focused in our quest to a new habit or lifestyle. We may not change everything overnight, but committing to even 1 or 2 small changes can help set you on the right path to go green in your kitchen.
So, what are you going to do this year to be a better steward of the environment and go green in your kitchen? I commit to trying to do better with reusable grocery bags!
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