Sustainable, environmentally friendly kitchen updates
If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking, and cleaning. Between food packaging, leftover food and used cleaning products, most of my household waste comes from the kitchen. Hopefully you already know that you should recycle and not waste food, but that’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating an eco-friendly kitchen.
With Earth Day approaching, this is the perfect time to increase our sustainability quotients. What does that mean? First and foremost, this means taking steps to protect the planet – reducing your carbon footprint, contributing as little to landfills as possible, and not polluting the environment in and around your home. A sustainable lifestyle is also one that you can afford and find comfortable.
Today we’re counting down 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ways to be more sustainable in the kitchen. You certainly don’t have to make all of these changes overnight. Start with the one that seems the most manageable or that pertains to your biggest problem. Small changes can really make a huge difference, and often cost little to nothing to implement. Being environmentally conscious often saves money in the long run.
Six ways to avoid food waste
Reducing food waste should be a top priority for anyone interested in protecting the planet. A recent survey found that the average American household wastes nearly a third of their food, resulting in an average cost of $ 1,866 per year. Not only is it bad on the wallet, but it’s also a waste of the resources that go into making, packaging, shipping, and selling this food. Here are six ways you can reduce food waste:
1. Shop more often. Fewer trips to the store may save you time and a little gas, but it’s not worth it if you let food spoil before you have a chance to eat it.
2. Get the most out of your freezer. Freeze leftovers to eat later. Keep a bag in your freezer for vegetable scraps and bones that you can use to make broth. Place chopped fresh herbs in an ice cube tray, cover with water or olive oil, and freeze. Use these herb cubes in soups, stews, stir-fries and roasts.
3. Learn how to properly store products so they don’t spoil before you have a chance to use them. We have some helpful tips for the 7 Days, 7 Salads Challenge.
4. Eat the whole plant. Vegetables made from beets, radishes, celery, and even broccoli are edible and tasty. Use the ingredients from almost any vegetable in your next batch of chicken or vegetable broth.
5. Start a compost heap. In addition to vegetable waste and eggshells, you can also throw in coffee grounds and paper filters, garden waste, compostable sponges (more on that later) and even certain packaging materials. For example, Primal Kitchen wraps glass containers in compostable kraft paper to protect them during shipping. No yard? No problem! Check out under the sink vermicomposting, also known as vermicomposting (it sounds better if you put it that way) – a great science experiment for kids!
6. Eat nose to tail. Use as much of the animal as possible. Learn to hug organs for both their excellent nutritional value and their avoidance of wasted during processing.
Five tips to reduce plastic waste
You already know that plastic waste poses a massive threat to the health of the planet. It’s hard to avoid plastic entirely, but there are ways to reduce the amount of plastic you use and the amount you land in the landfill.
1. Use reusable shopping bags and make bags. Bags made from hemp or organic cotton are ideal, but they also use any plastic bags you already have in your home. When shopping in the bulk groceries department, bring clean bags or containers from home. Take your glass or metal containers to customer service before filling them. An employee weighs them so that the cashier can deduct the tare weight when checking out. (You can do the same for the hot food bar, by the way.)
2. Stop using plastic bags and containers to store food. Instead, opt for glass, metal, and silicone. Reuse your clean mayo jars for making salads, storing nuts, and more. Stasher brand silicone bags are available in different sizes and are freezer and dishwasher safe. If the bags are worn or damaged, Stasher will provide a shipping label so you can send them back for recycling. Cool what?
3. Get biodegradable kitchen trash bags. They usually cost a little more per bag, but it’s a small investment in sustainability.
4. Buy loose leaf tea. A 2019 study concluded that tea bags can be a hidden source of microplastic pollution. At the very least, check that your favorite tea comes in plastic-free bags.
5. If you are a Keurig lover, you just have to Use reusable or compostable filter cups.
Four ways to shop intelligently
Reduce your environmental impact and save money!
1. Pay attention to the packaging. Go for products that have minimal packaging and look for recycled or recyclable paper and glass. Not to numb our own horn, but there is a reason why 85 percent of Primal Kitchen packaging is made of glass and our Frozen Bowls are made from PFA-free material made from upcycled sugar cane fiber.
2. Choose seasonal, local and animal products if possible, to reduce the carbon footprint associated with shipping food around the world.
3. If possible, buy organically. Organic farming reduces the amount of artificial fertilizer that gets into the environment. You can also support companies that use sustainable cultivation methods, even if they are not certified as organic. The process of certification is tedious and expensive, and many smaller environmentally conscious businesses cannot afford it.
4. Go to thrift stores. Buy used kitchen appliances, cutlery and crockery. Look for cast iron and stainless steel cookware that will last for decades.
Three cleaner cleaning products
Ironically, many of the tools we traditionally use to clean the kitchen have a negative impact on the environment. Not that clean, is it?
1. Avoid traditional scrubbing sponges and dish brushes. These are the main sources of plastic waste. Sponges made from cellulose, hemp, cotton fiber and even walnuts are compostable or biodegradable. These copper scouring pads are recyclable. Look for plastic-free dish brushes made from sustainably harvested wood and natural fiber bristles.
2. Use more environmentally friendly cleaning solutions. Standard cleaning products contain chemicals that can contaminate our home environment and contribute to air, water and soil pollution. Fortunately, it is possible to clean almost everything in your kitchen and throughout your home using non-toxic methods. Check out my post: How the heck do I clean this?
3. Cut back paper towels. Kitchen towels and cloth napkins are all you need, but check out these super cool paperless paper towels, also known as “undowelt towels”. For particularly environmentally friendly items, look for items made from organic cotton or recycled materials.
Two ways to save water
Use these tips to reduce the amount of water that flows into the drain.
1. Use your dishwasher. The dishwasher uses less water than washing your hands, provided you run a full load. Instead of rinsing, scrape the panels for additional savings.
2. Install an aerator on your kitchen faucet. Aerators reduce flow and backwater while increasing water pressure. They’re easy to install and only cost a few dollars. If your faucet isn’t compatible, at least try to avoid keeping your water running at full blast all the time.
One last tip: recycle!
Hopefully you are already using your municipal recycling program, but also: Do you know Terracycle?
With Terracycle you can order collection boxes for the things that you throw away the most. When the box is full, return it using the free shipping label they provided. They take everything from baby food bags to plastic bottle caps to used glasses.
You have to pay for the box and they are not cheap. However, if you can afford this, consider it a charitable donation to the planet. For a little more money, you can buy a general kitchen box so that you don’t have to sort your trash. Maybe your workplace would be ready to put one in the break room?
When it comes to sustainability, every little change counts. What could you immediately implement in your own kitchen that would make a difference?
About the author
Lindsay Taylor, Ph.D., is Senior Writer and Community Manager at Primal Nutrition, a certified Primal Health Coach and co-author of three keto cookbooks.
Lindsay is the author of Marks Daily Apple and the leader of the thriving Keto Reset and Primal Endurance community. Its job is to help people learn the what, why, and how of a health-focused life. Before joining the Primal team, she earned her Masters and Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, where she also worked as a researcher and educator.
Lindsay lives in Northern California with her husband and two sport-obsessed sons. In her free time, she enjoys ultra running, triathlon, camping and game nights. Follow @theusefuldish on Instagram as Lindsay tries to balance work, family and cardio while maintaining a healthy balance and, most importantly, enjoying life. Visit lindsaytaylor.co for more information.
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