Many of us spend lots of extra time in the kitchen during the holidays. It’s a great season to consider the environmental impact of our cooking habits, and take a few simple steps to go “green” in the kitchen!
Find a Solution for Food Scraps
Food scraps are okay to toss in the trash, right? You’d think so, since food products are biodegradable and easily able to rot, break down, and return nutrients to the earth. However, landfill conditions are not ideal for this process, and trap and compress food scraps within the other materials dumped there. This produces large amounts of methane gas which enters our environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, landfills account for 34% of all methane emissions in the U.S! Composting is a great alternative for environmentally conscious consumers to employ. If you live in the city, look for a composting program near your neighborhood. If you’re a country dweller, start a backyard compost pile or compost barrel!
Start at the Grocery Store
Sustainability in the kitchen starts at the grocery store! So much of the waste that is generated by the kitchen comes from food packaging. Bring reusable produce bags with you on shopping trips to avoid the thin single-use plastic bags provided in the fruit and vegetable aisles. Look for products that are packaged in biodegradable or recyclable packaging whenever possible, Like Numi’s Nspire tea line which uses paper and cotton elements only. Instead of buying “convenience” food (like already sliced fruit packaged on a styrofoam tray with plastic wrap), take a bit of extra time to purchase unpackaged and do the prep work yourself. It’s extremely difficult to shop plastic-free at most grocery stores, so it may be worth checking out any co-ops or bulk stores in your area for low-waste options for your favorite staples, or even signing up for a CSA that will bring fresh, unpackaged veggies to your doorstep.
Reduce Waste by Using Reusables
Single-use cleaning or food storage solutions like Ziploc bags, plastic cling wrap, disposable dishes, and disposable storage containers are only used for a brief period, but will spend hundreds of years sitting in landfill or even floating around the ocean. It’s insane to think that nearly every piece of plastic trash that we produce in our lifetime will “outlive” our own human lifespans! There are many eco-friendly alternatives to consider in place of disposables: wax wraps instead of plastic wrap, glass jars or containers instead of styrofoam or plastic ones, even silicone sandwich bags (we love ones by Stasher) that will last you a lifetime!
Keep chemicals that are bad for you and bad for the environment out of your kitchen by opting for natural cleaning solutions. Find a dish soap with natural ingredients that will be less harsh toward the environment when the detergent makes its way into our waterways. Stock up on baking soda and vinegar, two amazing substances that can be used for many different cleaning applications! Baking soda’s mildly abrasive properties make it a great alternative to soft scrub. Use it for tough grime on your sink or stove! Use a spray bottle of vinegar and a lint-free cloth or scrap of newspaper to clean the surface of appliances, tile backsplashes, and more. To remove mineral build up from sink handles and restore them to their shiny glory, soak a rag in vinegar, wrap it around the dirty handle, and let sit for an hour before wiping gently. Vinegar’s scent dissipates quite quickly, after being used for cleaning, but if it bothers you try making a citrus-infused cleaning vinegar.