As conscious cooks, we’re always thinking of ways to reduce waste and the amount of finite resources we use in the kitchen. The good news is you don’t need to do a full overhaul to help. Here’s a couple easy adjustments to make your kitch more earth-friendly.
- Say goodbye to Saran Wrap
For food storage, sometimes it’s a toss up between saran (or cling) wrap versus aluminum foil. Truth be told, both are hard on the environment. Although aluminum can be rinsed off and reused, it’s production leaves a heavy carbon footprint. Opt for a reusable food wrap made with natural materials like beeswax. To clean, simply rinse in cool water with mild soap and allow to air-dry. While this option won’t prevent leakage, it does keep your food fresh and free from leaching chemicals.
2. Use alternatives to plastic snack bags
Instead of plastic snack bags, opt for a healthier solution – glass! You may remember Pyrex as the brand of glass dishware that your mom, maybe even your grandma, used. Thankfully, their products are still heavy duty and high-quality. From leftovers storage to packing snacks, these dishes are free from lead and BPA and can stand the microwave or oven meaning one less dish needs to be used at lunch. This starter kit is a great way to stock your kitchen with all the basic sizes.
3. You probably already do this, but…recycle!
This doesn’t have to be an expensive or time-consuming endeavor. Start small by using a brown paper bag (another form of recycling used grocery store bags!). Fill your recycle bag with clean containers only, as wet or soiled recyclables are unfortunately not salvaged in most waste facilities. When in doubt of what to recycle, think GCMP (glass, cardboard, metals and plastics). You can check out more guidelines from Waste Management here.
4. Invest in reusable straws
You may have recently heard about how detrimental plastic straws are to the environment. In the past few months, the fight against plastic straws led by environmental activists has drawn a significant amount of attention not just on the social level, but the political one, too. Cities like LA and San Francisco are vowing to outlaw the ubiquitous tool. Instead of accepting a compostable straw in it’s place, which is a step in the right direction but still produces waste via production, opt for a stainless steel straw. Choose an option that’s made with FDA-approved steel, and pick a product like this one that already comes with a cleaning brush!
5. Don’t be “fridge foolish”
Yeah, sometimes we’re all guilty of lingering in front of an open fridge or freezer. Just keep in mind that an open door accounts for 7% of the appliance’s total energy use, so the less often this happens, the better for lowering your energy consumption and saving your wallet an unnecessary expense.
6. Buy local and buy bulk
If you’re lucky enough to live close to a farmers market, I hope you’re utilizing it! Farmers markets are a great way to support farmers directly by cutting out the middle man. It also helps reduce transportation costs and CO2 emissions. A lot of times, it results in less packaging too.
Another great way to do your grocery shopping is from the bulk aisles. Bulk allows you to use your own containers, so hang on to those marinara jars! When using your own jar for the first time, make sure to get it weighed with a cashier so they can deduct that weight when the container is full. An added benefit – buying bulk is cheaper, and it makes food storage easier while keeping foods fresher.
7. Cloth before paper towels
Paper towels are probably my biggest indulgence in the kitchen. They make cleaning up a mess so easy, but I try to keep in mind that the production of each role is a tremendous strain on natural resources. Just think, in the U.S. alone, 51,000 trees and 340,000 gallons of water are used each day to meet our paper towel demand, according to Dr. Greene.
Opt for basic cloth towels that can be reused. Even though you might be concerned about the water consumption needed to clean them, you can rest assured knowing you’re using far less water than it would take to produce the paper towel equivalent.
8. Plan meals around what’s expiring
A great way to cut down on food waste is to cook based on what ingredients you have available. If this seems overwhelming, try writing out a simple list of what you need to use and plug it into a google search. It’s a great way to discover new recipes and reduce waste!
Do you have suggestions on how to reduce waste in the kitchen? Share in the comments below!