Going green can sometimes seem a daunting task. I can come up with 20 things a day that I do that have a negative impact on the environment. I really do care about helping out Mother Earth whenever and wherever I can. I think about it all the time, in fact. But at times I feel frustrated, like it’s a lost cause.
But never fear! If you ever start to despair like I sometimes do, just pull up our bootstraps and start thinking positively! There truly are many big AND little things we can do to green up our lives and make a difference, and the kitchen is an excellent place to start!
Within the kitchen, there are myriads of things we can do TODAY (or at least this week!) that are simple yet impactful. Follow these 11 tips to get on track for a greener kitchen…and life!
Cook! 1 of 11
Less and less people cook on a regular basis, but getting in the kitchen and preparing our own food has a huge impact on the environment. Cooking doesn't have to be gourmet, so don't be intimidated! Make some goals to start cooking more often (which ties in well with your new-found meal planning skills!) and get back in the kitchen! (Recipe featured in photo: Pasta Primavera, cost-conscious, meatless, easy and delicious!)
Meal Plan 2 of 11
Meal planning may sound hyper organized and intimidating, but in reality it only takes a few minutes each week. Sit down and plan your food for the week, then base your shopping list on the plan. The result? Far less wasted food, which make Mother Earthy mighty happy.
Snack Smart 3 of 11
Stop buying and using individually wrapped snacks, which for the most part result in un-recyclable trash. Making homemade snacks and packing them in reusable containers is a great way to cut down on processed food and packaging. Not up for homemade? Buy in bulk and stick to reusable containers for packing the snacks. For example, my kids love toss-away pouches with applesauce. I appreciate the convenience but not the waste. I love these reusable pouches from Little Green Pouch. I buy applesauce in large glass jars then pack our "crushers" in the reusable pouch. Works great!
Actually Use Your Reusable Shopping Bags! 4 of 11
We all do it. We have oodles of reusable shopping bags lying around the house, garage or car, but we never take them into the store and use them! Make a commitment today to start using those reusable bags and develop a system for remembering. Keep the bags in your purse, the glove compartment, wherever works for you.
Ditch the Plastic! 5 of 11
Cutting back on plastic is hard, but it can be done! Plastic use in the kitchen is pervasive and often involves one-time use plastic, which is the worst offender. Pick a few small ways to start cutting plastic from the picture. Stop using baggies in packed lunches and opt for fabric pouches like Lunchskins (which my kids love!) and stainless steel containers. Next time you go to the grocery store, pick up some glass storage containers. Start small and go from there!
Clean with Baking Soda and Vinegar 6 of 11
If you cook at all, chances are you have baking soda and vinegar in your kitchen. You've probably heard it before, but both are great cleaners in the kitchen, cheap and completely non-toxic. And don't worry about that vinegar smell. The smell is gone as soon as everything dries and you'll eventually equate vinegar with cleanliness!
Wash Dishes Efficiently 7 of 11
If you have a dishwasher, fill it well and use it! If you don't have a dishwasher, be sure to fill a large tub or pot with hot water and soap, wash all your dishes, then rinse with cold water.
Eat More Veggies! 8 of 11
Vegetables and legumes require far less resources than meat to be produced and they're good for you, too! You don't have to cut meat completely, but being more thoughtful about its use and incorporating more greens in your diet will go a long way to help the environment.
Fill Your Freezer 9 of 11
That's right, a full freezer is a happy freezer. The more you have packed in the freezer, the more efficiently it will run. Don't have a enough food to fill the space? Throw in some reusable ice packs to fill the space. On a related and helpful note, make sure any food you put in the fridge and freezer has cooled before storing!
Lets Talk About Towels and Napkins 10 of 11
Paper towels and paper napkins are in fact less green than using cloth. Even taking into consideration having to clean your cloth napkins and towels, the resources need to produce paper towels and paper napkins is about twice as much and then they end up in the landfill after just one use. Wash your towels and napkins with other laundry to maximize your cleaning resources, they don't take up much space. They're prettier than paper, too!
Buy in Bulk 11 of 11
The more food in a container, the less packaging it uses! When buying food, always keep in mind how much packaging is involved. Buying in bulk helps minimize all that trash. For example, I buy large bags of sugar and flour and keep them in smaller containers in my cabinet.