Want to make the planet a better place while also making your life a little simpler? That's the beauty of practicing eco-friendly habits in the kitchen. From maximizing leftover ingredients to batch cooking for super efficiency, take some easy steps to go green at home.
By Shanna Mallon, Freelance Writer
The more ways you can find to go green in the kitchen, the better the payoff for the planet—and your pocketbook! Small habit changes can add up to a big difference. Here are a few easy ways to get more sustainable every day.
Shop with reusable bags. Disposable plastic grocery bags require huge amounts of fossil fuels to produce each year. Then they end up in landfills, where they can degrade and release toxic chemicals that harm wildlife. Luckily, there's an easy alternative. Keep reusable cloth bags in your car so you'll always have them ready for a grocery run. Bring smaller bags for your produce. (Bonus: no more using precious space to store dozens of plastic bags.)
Go meatless once or twice a week. You've probably already heard of Meatless Monday. It's a world-wide movement encouraging everyone to eat vegetarian once a week. Going meatless (even part-time) reduces your carbon footprint and cuts down on using resources like fossil fuel and fresh water. (Bonus: you'll save money!) Veggie eating now and then is easier than you might think. Enjoy some favorite vegetarian dishes with only five ingredients.
Practice batch cooking. Heating up your oven? Don't just roast a single chicken—fill that oven up. Toss in a pan of veggies or a pizza crust. You'll save lots of energy when you cook multiple foods at once. Double recipes and save half for later (a nifty trick to lighten up your workload, too). We've got more easy tips for meal planning right this way.
Save leftovers! Don't let leftovers languish in the fridge until they mold. Use them. The easiest way is to eat the meal again, of course, but even small leftovers and scraps have value. The bones from your roast chicken and the scraps from chopped vegetables can make a delicious homemade soup stock. Reimagine leftover roasted carrots by blending them into a soup. Stir-fry leftover rice. Toast stale bread for croutons; so good!
Cut out disposable plates and silverware. This one's pretty straightforward. Avoid disposable plates and utensils, especially plastics. Opt for real plates and flatware instead. Enamel camping plates don't break! Bring a set of silverware to keep at work, and you can cut disposables out of your eating habits completely.
Look for safe nonstick pans. Many nonstick pans are made with chemicals that scientists and health professionals think are harmful—PFAS and PFOA. They're also traditionally coated with Teflon, which breaks down at high temperatures. That means your pans could be leeching chemicals into your food. Replace old-school nonstick with new ceramic nonstick pans. Look for pans labeled "PFOA-free."
Shop local when you can. Buying food from local suppliers means it hasn't had to travel far to get to you. It has a lower carbon footprint, and it's often fresher tasting. It might be less expensive, too. Check out farmers markets and local businesses that grow and sell food near you to discover what's in season in your area!
Shop organic when you can. It's true that certified organic food can cost more. However, that higher price tag also means your food's been grown with responsible farming methods that promote biodiversity, avoid pesticides and petroleum-based fertilizers—and yield some big benefits for the environment.
Skip the bottled water. Americans spend billions of dollars on bottled water. But that water has a high price tag at the check-out counter, and it also takes a big toll on the environment. Packaging, production, and distribution all have a footprint. If you want to purify your tap water, invest in a long-lasting water filter or pitcher filter. On-the-go? Get a reusable water bottle. You'll save a bundle and eliminate a lot of your household's plastic waste.
Recycle. You're probably already doing this, but if not, why not? It takes almost no added effort beyond setting up a second bin for recyclables. Put it near your garbage can, and it'll soon be a habit to toss paper, plastic, glass and metal there. You should also consider reusing items! Here are 15 creative ways to repurpose glass jars.