Hi everyone. It's been quite a while since my last post. Thanks to my regular readers who have still been checking the page for new posts. Life has been crazy (as it has a tendency to be!), and I've finally found some much-needed R&R, so here I am.
Lately, I've found myself very eco-friendly, especially in the kitchen. I spend so much time cooking, and I have realized how many things go to waste. Plastic, paper, and water, to name a few. Making just one change from this list can make a huge difference!
10 Ways To Go Green In The Kitchen
1. Compost, Compost, Compost!
When cooking with fruits and vegetables, there is often unusable portions which we discard: Peels and skins from potatoes, cucumbers, squash, oranges, grapefruits, and bananas all wind up in the trash. Instead of tossing them in the waste bucket, use them in a compost. Drill holes in the sides of a outdoor garbage can, and fill 1/2 way with rich soil, grass clippings, leaves and twigs. Keep a bucket or bowl next to the kitchen sink, and fill with your fruit and veggie scraps. Empty your food scraps into your compost bucket each night and put the top on. 'Stir up' the compost once a week by rolling the can a few times, and keep it moist by lightly watering with a hose once or twice a week. When the compost is ready, use in your garden or flower bed. No need for store-bought fertilizer ever again!
2. Bringing back the Sponge
To most home cooks, the paper towel is the greatest invention since sliced bread. Got a mess? Wipe it up, and throw it away. How easy is that? But have you ever counted how many paper towels you actually use throughout the day? Drying the salad greens, cleaning the kitchen table, wiping up stove-top splatters. That's at least three paper towels right there. Each paper towel we use is one more piece of trash in a landfill.
A simple solution? Bring back the sponge. Many people avoid sponges like the plague: They have a tendency to be drippy, soggy, and crawling with bacteria. Luckily, they don't have to be. Assign a separate sponge for each specific job. One for the stove, one for the counter and tables, and one for food messes and spills. Different colors work well here. Keep 'em clean by disinfecting them in the microwave for 30 seconds each. By using sponges instead of paper towels, you'll cut down on waste and save money.
3. Smart Marinating
Tonight when you're marinating that steak, ditch the zip-top bag and use a reusable container. Zip-top bags are great for marinating- They seal well and help coat all sides of the protein with the marinade. But the truth is, the plastic bag is used for a few hours tops, and then thrown in the trash. What a waste of money and resources! Instead, try reusable containers with lids such as plastic take-out tubs. When you're done, toss it in the dishwasher and reuse over and over. Plastic containers also eliminate messy fridge-spills from the leaky zip-top bags.
4. Freeze Leftovers
Instead of tossing out that extra chicken breast or those last few spoonfuls of veggies, freeze them. You can add chicken and other meats to soups and stews, and the vegetables will jazz up that brown rice. Another tip: Freeze bones from chicken, beef and pork. You can use them to flavor broths and stocks.
5. Mindful Washing
Tonight, wash the dishes by hand. Fill up one side of the sink 1/2 way with warm, soapy water. Fill the other side with cool, clean water. Fill the soaped up side with the dishes, scrub with a sponge, and then dip in the clean water to rinse. By washing the dishes by hand, you're using less water than what would be used by the dish washer- not to mention energy. This tip is not do-able by everyone, every night. But swapping one night a week with hand-washing can make a BIG difference. It's also a great way to get the kids involved, and burn a few extra calories!
6. Buy Organic
Buying organic foods is one of the best things you can do for the environment. Organically grown foods are grown without chemicals or pesticides, which means no chemicals are released into the air or water, as opposed to non-organic farming methods. Not only is organic food better for the environment, but it's healthier for us as well. Eating organically means you are eating food free of harmful chemicals. Another plus? Organic farming methods use less water than traditional farming.
7. Buy Local
In addition to buying organic, become more eco-friendly by buying locally. And no, they are not the same thing. Just because something is organic does not mean it was grown locally. And just because something was grown locally, does not mean it is organic. Buying locally grown foods helps the environment in two ways: First, it cuts down on packaging. If you've ever been to a farmer's market, you know that fruits and vegetables are rarely packaged. Watermelons aren't plastic-wrapped as they are at the store, and oranges aren't in plastic bags.
Buying organically also means less travel-time. Which means, less fuel. You know that Texas Grapefruit you bought from the supermarket? It didn't get to your store by itself. Large produce trucks travel thousands of miles through the country delivering fruits and vegetables to various supermarkets. Thousands of miles, means thousands of gallons of gasoline, and harmful exhaust fumes. Buying locally? The farmer had a much shorter trip from his farm to the farmers market.
8. Make it homemade
Many store bought products can be made at home, which reduces not only packaging, but cost as well. Instead of store-bought foods, go back to basics and make them yourself. Pancakes, waffles, muffins, cupcakes, and bread are easy and fun to make at home, and you'll reduce the plastic and cardboard in which they are normally packaged. Take it even further and make your own bagels, donuts, and ice cream.
9. Reusable Napkins
This one goes hand-in-hand with #2. Instead of using paper napkins at meal time, swap them with reusable cloth napkins. You won't have to throw them away after one use, and save money in the long run. Besides, cloth napkins make you look instantly classy!
10. Preheating Precautions
Most people are unaware that preheating the oven is usually not needed. Preheating uses unnecessary energy. Most recipes which are baked call for a preheated oven. However, you can start the baking as soon as you turn on the oven. Most dishes will be cooked thoroughly by the called baking time, or you can extend the baking time by a few minutes more.
Going Green is a process. If you can take one step toward a more eco-friendly kitchen, you can make a BIG difference.