How To: Eco-Friendly Kitchen
By: Shannon Haupage
Do you ever feel like you’re making way more trash than you should? Reducing the trash you create can be a fun challenge. At the end of the day, when you start to notice that your trash can fills up so much slower than it used to, it feels like an accomplishment - one that is so important when it comes to fighting climate change and helping future generations have an Earth that is habitable.
The best place to start learning how to lead a more sustainable life is the kitchen, because everyone can make little easy changes here that make a big difference for the environment. Here are a few tips I actually do myself that are super easy to follow!
Use Tupperware, avoid aluminum foil/sandwich bags/saran wrap
Bonus points for glass Tupperware, but I always say, “Use what you have!” You are actually creating more waste by going out and buying new mason jars or glassware. The Tupperware you have is perfectly good and if you do want to use glass, clean out sauce or jam jars as you get them! While this tip is good for the environment, you also save money by not having to constantly buy aluminum foil and sandwich bags.
Eliminate paper towels
Paper towels are really easy to phase out, it just takes a conscious effort to go for alternatives. Utilize hand towels to dry your hands (this makes such a huge difference if you’re currently drying your hands with paper towels!) and set aside a clean-up sponge to mop up spills and clean off counters. If you want to get fancy with it, you could turn old t-shirts into rags used for cleaning, which is great upcycling technique!
Eat vegetarian (one day a week, or whenever you can!)
One of the best things you can do for the environment is eat less meat. According to Greenpeace, “the livestock sector – raising cows, pigs, and chickens – generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks, and automobiles combined.” I’m not saying you have to drop meat completely by tomorrow, but becoming more aware of your consumption of meat and reducing it where you can goes a long way.
Bring your own containers to the grocery store.
I used to feel intimidated by bringing my own containers to the grocery store, but once you do it the first time you realize how easy it is. You bring the container (glass jar, old sauce jar, cloth bag, or any container you have lying around) to the customer service counter at any grocery store with a bulk section before you start shopping and say “Can you tare this for me?” and they will put a sticker with the weight of the container on top of it. Once you “tare” the container (or get the weight of it), you can fill it with anything you want in the bulk section and they will subtract that weight from the total when you check out!
Use reusable grocery bags/skip the produce bags
You can’t recycle plastic bags, and they are a huge part of plastic waste that people create. At stores like Whole Foods, you get $0.10 off every time you bring your own bag, which is a nice additional perk. Produce bags are unnecessary a lot of the times, so I invite you to buy loose avocados next time you’re at the store and put them into your tote bag individually! (Or use your tared cloth bag from the previous step.)
Choose food with less packaging
Lastly, make better choices when you’re out grocery shopping! When I looked in my pantry, I checked if there was anything that I could swap out for a lower waste option. There was definitely a lot to improve upon. For example, I swapped my tea bags for a big bag of loose tea and a tea steeper. I started buying bulk items like rice and pasta so I could skip the boxes and bags. And I found a protein bar recipe so I could make my own bars instead of eating individually packaged bars. I challenge you to go through your pantry and see what swaps you can make!
Try these little changes, and I promise you, it will feel amazing when you realize how much power you have as an individual who can make a difference in the world every single day.