We’re always looking for easy ways to give back. Not only does giving back help others, studies show that it can help your own health and wellbeing in more ways than one. Of course, not everyone has ample time to dedicate to volunteering each week, or the money to donate to all the causes you’d like.
That’s where going green comes in. Making small, simple changes throughout your everyday life to make this world a better place is an easy way to give back to the earth and the communities that nourish us. We advocate for taking baby steps and incorporating green practices throughout your life one week at a time. The New Year is a great time to start doing this; by the end of 2017, you’ll be living in a more eco-friendly home that gives back each and every day!
This week, let’s start with the kitchen. It’s where you spend a lot of your time each week, and chances are its one of the places in your home where you create the most waste in the form of food, packaging, and broken appliances. Try out one or more of these steps this week to reduce your kitchen’s environmental footprint.
The ultimate way to truly go green is to start at the source and reduce waste before it even hits the garbage or recycling bins. Forty percent of the food produced in this world is never eaten – we need to reduce all that waste! It all starts with shopping intentionally; before heading to the grocery store this week, make a shopping list that includes everything you’ll need for your weekly meals (by quantity). If you think through your needs before you shop, you’ll end up with fewer extra produce items that can go bad before you use them.
If you do inevitably end up with leftovers you can’t eat, consider composting. Particularly if you have a garden at home, composting is an easy way to reduce your environmental impact while helping your land thrive. Learn more about the simplest ways to compost here.
Recycle and reuse
Food comes wrapped in a ton of plastic. Think about it: a box of cereal contains both the inner plastic packaging and the cardboard box. A microwave dinner boasts a cardboard box, plastic shell, and film cover. This packaging seriously adds up, heading straight for our landfills if we don’t recycle it. Take the time this week to audit your plastic and packaging use, and do some research online to see what can be recycled that you are currently throwing away. One big culprit is probably plastic bags (read: grocery bags, plastic bread bags, Ziplocs); while plastic bags can’t be recycled in your curbside recycling bin, you can return them to your grocery store for recycling.
As you’re doing your audit, also think through what can be reused. Jelly jars, yogurt containers, and other tough plastics can be reused as Tupperware for at least a few weeks. Glass jars become great storage containers for years on end. Better yet – bring your glass jars to the grocery store with you to store grains, beans, and other bulk dried foods rather than using those pesky plastic bags.
Between the oven, dishwasher, sink, and microwave, the kitchen sure does use a lot of energy. If you’re in the market for new appliances, always stick to EnergyStar rated items – they are the most efficient in using less energy while still being quite effective. Older appliances also tend to use more energy, so if you are able to replace them with newer models throughout the year, it’s always a good idea.
Heating water uses energy; as is good practice throughout the rest of your life, limit water usage in the kitchen. Don’t keep the sink running while you’re doing dishes, for instance. It’s just as effective to fill the sink with warm, sudsy water and wash from there. Keep rinsing quick before putting dishes in the dishwasher. In fact, always be sure to turn the sink off when you’re not using it – a running sink means wasted water and energy.
There you have it – a few easy ways to reduce your environmental impact in the kitchen. How are you hoping to make your home greener? Let us know in the comments – we’ll write another blog post to offer some tips!