10 Easy Ways to Make Your Kitchen More Sustainable
The kitchen is the place where we spend a lot of time. We make our morning coffee there, we pack school lunches there, and we finish the day with some much-needed family time there. There’s a reason why the party always ends up moving to the kitchen. Something about it makes us feel at home.
But between food scraps and leftovers, packaging, and cleaning, it’s really easy for the kitchen to become the most wasteful space in your home. But with a few tricks, you can easily make your kitchen and pantry more sustainable.
Read on to learn more about some of our tricks for making the kitchen a less wasteful, and more sustainable space.
How to Make Your Kitchen Sustainable
Preserve More, Waste Less
We all know the feeling of watching an apple become mush on the countertop. Or watching a carton of strawberries slowly shrivel up and get smelly in the fridge. So why let your produce get to that point?
Instead of inevitably tossing out a bunch of fruits and vegetables, consider how you can give them a different purpose: dehydrate them!
Turn that borderline wilted kale into tasty chips, and transform those delectable, too-sweet-for-words strawberries into a flavorful addition for granola. You’d be surprised and just how many different food items you can dehydrate! Everything from watermelon and apples to marshmallows and cheese!
This guide offers 100 different recipes for over 45 different fruits, vegetables, and other foods. And if you’re wondering what the difference is between dehydrating and freeze-drying, check out this article!
Utilize Your Food “Scraps”
How many times have you cut off the green tops of beets, carrots, or chard and thrown them in the trash? Probably more times than you can remember. But did you know those stems are totally edible? Rather than tossing out “scraps”, consider how you can utilize them in your meals.
Source: Fix.com Blog
Beet greens can be used in salads or sautéed up as a side dish with garlic and olive oil. Though carrot greens are a bit bitter, when they’re blanched and sautéed with olive oil, they can add a unique kick to a variety of soups and stews.
Stop Using Paper Towels
Did you know that in the United States alone, 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used each year? Whether you use them to clean up the counter or to contain the mess from your spaghetti dinner, we’ve all been guilty of using an excessive amount of paper towels.
Instead of utilizing paper towels, consider making the switch to reusable cloth towels!
You can find all sorts of cloth alternatives on Etsy, and in super cute colors and patterns, too! They can be used rolled up around your existing paper towel holder and will last a heck of a lot longer than traditional paper towels. Or, you could use a clean sponge to wipe off the counter, just like your mom taught you!
One of the best things you can do for the local economy, and the environment, is shopping local.
Not only does buying local produce support your neighbors and small agriculture, but by purchasing food that doesn’t have to be transported long distances, you’re eliminating some of the pollutants that are associated with getting produce from other states and countries.
Not to mention, local food is tasty! Produce that’s adapted to your locale results in better-tasting fruits and vegetables, and if you’re lucky, you might even get your hands on an heirloom plant or two!
Reuse Glass Jars
How many times have you rinsed out an empty jar of spaghetti or pickles and tossed the glass jar in the recycle? Next time, consider how you could reuse it! Rather than buying dry items like rice, quinoa, granola, or oats in paper or plastic bags, bring your empty, dry jars to the bulk foods section and fill them up there!
Not only are you reusing your glass jars, but you’ll be reducing the packaging waste that typically comes along with buying dry foods at the grocery store. Not to mention, your pantry will be so organized!
Shop In Bulk, But Don’t Waste
Shopping in bulk is a great way to have a more sustainable kitchen. But not if you end up throwing half of it away because you can’t eat it all before it goes bad. When you’re shopping in bulk, make sure to only buy what you know you’ll use a lot of, and do the remainder of your shopping elsewhere, especially when it comes to perishables.
Make sure to properly store what you do buy in bulk, and always keep your eye open for store coupons to make sure you’re getting the best deal. For more tricks and tips for buying in bulk, check out this guide.
Unplug Your Small Appliances
Even when they’re turned off, your small appliances like toaster ovens, coffee makers, and stand mixers still draw power from your electrical outlet. So, unplug them! This is a simple step that will save electricity and in the long run, cut down on your bill a bit.
Switch To Eco-Friendly Cleaning Solutions
If you find yourself having to cover your nose when you scrub the toilet or sink, you probably are cleaning with some pretty nasty chemicals.
Traditional kitchen and bathroom cleaners are full of all sorts of pollutants and are bad for not only our lungs but the environment as well. Nowadays, there are a variety of different natural cleaning brands and products available for a pretty affordable price, and they smell great!
Not only will you feel better about the products you’re bringing into your home, but the production of these products alone makes less of an impact on the environment than traditional cleaners do.
Method, one of the most well-known eco-friendly cleaning product brands is a B-corp and takes pride in being a transparent company that discloses, and explains, all of the ingredients they use in their products.
In addition to eco-friendly cleaning supplies, if you run into kitchen pests like ants, try to avoid using noxious chemicals to eradicate them. Instead, start by trying an eco-friendly solution. And if you find that those solutions don’t work, consider hiring a professional service, especially when the area in question is where you prepare food for your family.
Eat Your Leftovers
Sometimes leftovers aren’t the most appealing thing in the fridge. But with some creativity, you can turn your lackluster leftovers into something delectable. That leftover steak? Add it to some ramen! Leftover chicken? Transform it into a pot pie! Rather than waiting for your leftovers to go bad and then tossing them, or reluctantly re-heating them, they can be a whole new dish!
Track Your Waste
And of course, the first step to becoming more sustainable is being able to identify the areas in which you can improve. Try to track your waste and see what foods tend to go bad before you can eat them, or what packaging you tend to toss out the most.
Have your kids track their waste, too! Not only will it help you get an idea of your household’s overall waste, but it will teach your kids about their environmental footprint as well!
How do you reduce food waste in your kitchen? What are your tips for making your home more sustainable? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author - Leigha Staffenhagen
Leigha Staffenhagen is the managing editor of Insteading.com, a homesteading and sustainability site focusing on everything from gardening and raising chickens to off-grid living and tiny homes.