There are many ways to be environmentally friendly, but often people think doing something good for the environment can be time-consuming or difficult. This doesn't have to be true.
Even in your own kitchen, there are many ways to green your behavior that are not only easy, but make things more convenient for you.
Here are some tips to help green your kitchen living:
- Instead of using plastic wrap or aluminum foil, use reusable plastic containers that generally keep food fresher and produce less waste.
- Don't waste paper towels or paper napkins on spills and messes; use cloth napkins or towels instead. Towels are reusable and washable, and I've found they are usually more absorbent as well. Using water to wash cloth towels and napkins is better for the environment than the industrial processing needed to make paper products.
- Use real dishes instead of paper, plastic or styrofoam. Styrofoam and plastic never biodegrade and even though paper plates aren't as bad, trees have to be cut down to make them and there are other environmental impacts from transporting and packaging them. It's better all around for the environment if you can opt for reusable, washable dishes.
- Only run your dishwasher if it is full, and keep your filter in your dishwasher cleaned out so it can work efficiently. A clean filter can also mean cleaner dishes.
- Buy locally made items and locally grown food. Not only is it often fresher, but your foods' carbon footprints will be smaller. Most people know they have a carbon footprint, but they don't realize part of that footprint comes from what food they eat. A good rule is the longer it took your food to get to you, the larger the footprint is.
- Use cloth bags, not paper or plastic. In the debate of plastic or paper the answer is cloth. Plastic bags are recyclable, but most of them are thrown away. Even though paper bags are biodegradable they take up more space in trucks during transport than plastic bags so they have a larger carbon footprint. Cloth bags only have to be transported one time and can be used over and over again.
The best way to incorporate eco-friendly behaviors into your life is to turn them from new behaviors into habits. Decide on what you want to do and work hard to keep doing it until it becomes second nature.
I cannot count the number of times I forgot my cloth shopping bags at home before I started keeping them in my car, or the number of times I wrapped leftovers in foil or plastic wrap before I rearranged my kitchen so my reusable plastic containers are easily accessed.
If you want to try and tackle all of these items on the list, more power to you. If you want to start small and try out one or two changes, that's great too because every little bit helps.
If you know of other ways to green your kitchen behaviors, or green tips for other places around the house, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll include them in future columns. Next week, I'm going to list environmentally friendly tips for bathrooms.