10 Simple Steps to a Green-er Kitchen
Starting and keeping a more environmentally conscious and green kitchen can seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Start simple with these easy changes.
1. When Shopping for a Green Kitchen, Buy Less
When stocking your kitchen, only buy what you need. This seems like an easy one, but I can’t tell you the number of times, I’ve overbought and later found myself throwing things out.
Meal planning can make a huge difference when trying to buy less. By making a meal plan, I know exactly what I have and what I need, so when I go to the grocery store I only buy for the meals I have planned for this week. There are some awesome meal planning resources out there, but to keep from throwing out paper lists, I like reusable, dry erase boards like this one.
2. Buy Frequently Used Products in Bulk
This may seem the opposite of the goal, but it can make sense for the things you use a lot.
When you buy in bulk, you greatly reduce the amount of non-recyclable packaging materials thrown into the landfill.
Even with bulk buying, check for recycling info. I’ve found that much of the packaging I previously assumed couldn’t be recycled is accepted by our local recycling center. For example, some bulk products are wrapped in recyclable #4 plastic, so the only thing that goes in the “trash” is the product itself.
3. Clean your Green Kitchen Smarter
Do we really need 10-15 products for kitchen cleaning? For general cleaning, I use four eco-friendly products: castile soap (foaming hand soap, and hand dish washing), Poofy Organics all-purpose cleaner (countertops, floors, dusting, etc.), baking soda (scrubbing), and hydrogen peroxide (disinfecting, stain removing).
I’ve found that these four products by themselves and in combination with each other are a very effective green kitchen cleaning arsenal. Safe, eco-friendly and cheap!
4. Forget Paper Towels & Napkins
I used to think that because paper breaks down easily, it’s a more eco-friendly option, but we need to think about the process of making paper products too. Making paper towels is an environmentally dirty process from the number of trees consumed for virgin pulp to the bleaching process that contaminates the huge amount of water needed.
Related Article: Do Green and Eco-Friendly Products Really Work?
5. Make the Switch to Glass or Stainless Food Storage Containers
Disposables are not only bad for the environment, but they can also be bad for the health of your family when dangerous chemicals leach into your food. BreastCancer.org has written an easy-to-understand article on the dangers of plastics. You can read it here.
Although glass and stainless storage containers are a bit of an investment upfront, more stores are beginning to sell them individually, so you can buy one or two at a time without breaking the budget. Glass and stainless containers last a very long time, are healthier for your family and make organizing the refrigerator easier too.
6. Buy Reusable Water Bottles
I can’t say enough about this. Please buy and use reusable water bottles — starting today.
Saying that plastic, disposable water bottles is “bad” is a huge, Huge, HUGE understatement. They are SO BAD on pretty much every level including your wallet. Invest in a few stainless steel or glass reusable bottles now and save on your health, your budget and the environment.
Related Article: 5 Simple Ways to Be Good Stewards of Creation
7. Avoid, Reuse, or Recycle Take-Out Packaging
Don’t have time to cook every day or does your family crave take-out food now and again? Much of today’s take-out and fast food comes in environmentally-friendly recyclable and reusable packaging. You can reuse the paper bags for other things around the house or add them to your compost pile.
Plastic cups can be reused too. I use them for bathing the dog, scooping potting soil, etc., and when they’ve lost their usefulness many of them are recyclable including their straws.
Bonus tip: Skip the restaurant paper napkins and silverware when take out is really on the go. Ask the restaurant to not include them in your order and carry your own in the car.
8. Do Your Green Homework
With just a little research, you can easily find out what recycling programs are available in your community.
Within few minutes. a quick internet search will probably offer you tons of valueable information on your local landfill and all the recycling options available in your county including drop-off locations, recycling rules, and the contact info for companies that offer curbside recycling. You may be surprised how many local options are available in your area when you take the time to do your homework.
9. Buy Reusable Grocery Bags
The key is to find reusable bags you really like and commit to using them. I’ve had the same ones for about 4 years and they still look and work great. I chose bags with wide comfortable handles and strong washable plastics, so when I accidentally spill chicken or meat juices in them, I can confidently clean them before reusing them. Washable fabric bags are also a good alternative to avoid plastic completely if you prefer.
Despite our commitment to reusable bags, sometimes we forget. If you don’t have time to go back to the car to get them, be sure to always reuse and/or recycle the disposable bags. Our local grocery store has convenient recycling bins placed just inside the doors. I just toss them in the car with my reusable bags and recycle them on my next shopping trip.
Another option is to skip the disposable bags at checkout when we forget. You can either self-checkout or ask your clerk to allow you to put your unbagged groceries back in the cart after they’re scanned.
10. Reuse & Upcycle Often
Upcycling, or reusing something for higher usefulness than its original purpose, is not always easy to do well, but worth some Pinterest or Google time to try a project or two. Here is one of my favorite sites dedicated to upcycling called Upcycle That. Great ideas and so much fun!
These are just a few of the many simple ways you can start to make a change to a more green, conscious kitchen. Do you have other simple tips I’ve missed? If so, share your ideas in the comments.