Let’s all welcome in earth day (4/22) by greening up our kitchen! This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I’ve compiled a list of stuff we do around here, easy tricks that will not only save the planet but also your pocketbook!
I promise these will not be outside your comfort zone- no weird embarrassing stuff that your teenager won’t do 😉
Maybe there are some things you already do. Maybe some will be a reminder to get back to doing it. Maybe some will be a new idea. Or just maybe you have some suggestions for me? I’d love to hear them!
Get Rid of the Paper
almost any need for paper towels. I keep some on hand for particularly nasty stuff- like raw meat spills- but other than that it is all rags. And no- don’t go out and buy them. When any towel in our house starts looking a little worn- out go the shears and they are re-purposed! So small they take hardly any room in the wash (and you were already running that machine- so no extra footprint there).
Clean with Vinegar.
Seriously. I only clean my counters/appliances with vinegar. It cuts grease and sanitizes. What else? Well, an eco-friendly dish soap (like seventh generation) and that’s it. The smell? Honestly I don’t notice it. Pennies! That’s what it costs 🙂
Buy in Bulk
Wait- don’t stop reading just because you have a small household. I promise there are little ways to reduce packaging and trips to the store. Take a second to think about things you buy every week. Would it make a difference to buy a larger package and store in an airtight container for the month? Or instead of many little yogurt containers each week- just grab the big one. Well this may be an obvious choice for large families, this can be a great way to save money and reduce your footprint.
Make Something from Scratch
Who knew baking could save the planet? No seriously- just think about it. If I buy granola at the store, those couple ounces will be wrapped in plastic and the loaded into a paper box. They also had to truck that package to the store and then you have to get rid of all the packaging after eating it. If I make some at home, I can easily produce a huge batch that will then be stored in a reuseable container. Bonus points if the items in the granola were bought in bulk 🙂
Keep the Scraps
Have you seen those reports about how much food is wasted every year? That also costs you money! A lot of times people think saving little bits isn’t worth it. But I save every little bit, and if necessary combine the little bits to make one nice leftover meal, even if it’s just lunch. Grab one container and throw in all your veggie leftovers and before you know it you have the makings for soup. Didn’t eat the leftovers in a day or two- make sure to toss them in the freezer. Bonus, your freezer actually operates better with more food (not overstuffed) than with empty space. If you (or people you live with) are the kind of people who don’t like eating the same thing twice… put in the freezer for a month and voila it’s a brand new meal 😉
Make a Plan and Stick with It
Do you find yourself running to the store for dinner, buying things you didn’t plan, and forgetting the broccoli in the back of the refrigerator? Make a meal plan and sticking with it is such an easy way to save time, money, and eliminate waste. Plaster it up on the wall so everyone can see, we use a whiteboard in the kitchen. Before shopping be sure to check what leftovers are in the freezer (see above) and what needs to be used up asap in the frig. Then but only what is needed. It’s actually a relief to not wonder what you are having each day, such a great feeling!
Eat More Greens
It takes a much larger carbon footprint for a pound of beef than a pound of lettuce. Celebrate meatless Monday with a fresh salad or vegetarian dish. Have a die hard meat lover hanging around your house? Try serving meat as the condiment rather than the main dish. Throw some chopped chicken on top of the salad or a baked potato. I am always fascinated when I go to a restaurant and the meal includes a giant hunk of meat and a single stem of broccoli. It can definitely skew the notion of portion size! No need to eat like that at home.
Get Rid Of Re-Use Plastic
We’ve all heard the mantra to get rid of plastic- which is great and I totally agree. However, plastic continues to creep into my house, especially dairy containers. While these should absolutely be recycled, I take it a step further and reuse them first. Since nasty chemicals could leach out if these were heated- I only use them to store items in the frig or freezer.
Reuse Recycle… Refuse?
Along with reusing- keep an eye to reducing the packaging/excess that comes into your home. Avoid whenever possible or buy reusable produce bags. (We all know to bring the big bags-right?) Grab the cereal bag instead of the brands with a box and a bag. I reach for the glass peaut butter instead of plastic.
Turn the oven on…once
This tip will probably only help the avid bakers, but if you find yourself making muffins for breakfast, cookies for an afternoon snack and potatoes for dinner, your oven is getting a work out! Plan ahead and try to bake all these items at the same time- no wasted energy.
I unplug my coffee maker every day. No need to pay for phantom energy I don’t need. Standby power can account for up to 15% of your electricity bill. Start and it will easily become habit after you pour that last all important cup! Be sure to do the same any t.v.’s and radios hanging out in your kitchen. What’s that in the corner? Oh yeah, the Ipad that has been fully charged since last night. Ahem. Such a little step, and I may get mocked that it’s a pain, but I haven’t quite gotten to the point that replugging something does me in 😉
Buy One Thing Organic
Not many people can afford to feed their family an entirely organic diet (us included). However, I think pretty much everyone can swing at least one item on their grocery list. I am a strong believer that each one of us can make an impact. Wouldn’t it be great if more healthy food choices were available? We all heard about Kraft mac & cheese nixing the artificial colors last night? What a great first step in the right direction. And a hearty thanks to Food Babe and her change.org petition. It’s amazing the power we have! Make your voice heard with your dollars!
Taking it to the Next Step
I have worms. Really. Composting worms. Okay, they are in the dining room, not the kitchen, but they still count! No they do not smell, and visitors would never know. Until you tell them, and feel free to have a bit of fun with this 🙂 Mine are from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. I have a few thousand and I definitely need a few more- we eat lots of veggies! In my opinion it’s easier than traditional composting, although I do also have a barrel composter, and it can be done all year long.
What are you doing for Earth Day?
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