Going paperless is a big challenge and a big step toward a more earth-friendly kitchen (and a money-saver to boot!). But it’s not the only way to go green in the kitchen. There are many other ways to green your kitchen, some hard and some very easy. Some even have the added bonus of improving your health or saving money. Here are 10 ways to green your kitchen, beyond going paperless!
1. Replace your cookware.
Please, I beg you, ditch the Teflon cookware. Teflon gives off toxic fumes when it’s overheated. Those fumes can kill small birds and cause flu-like symptoms in people. And to add to the negatives of Teflon, it easily breaks down and begins to flake, making it not-so-non-stick. That means you have to replace your pans more often.
Stainless steel and cast iron are much safer options. If you really want a non-stick pan, though, try a ceramic coated pan. I use (and LOVE) GreenPan brand. The ceramic coating is non-toxic, won’t give off any fumes, and is very durable. And the non-stick-ness is far better than that of Teflon anyway! Plus, they are so incredibly easy to clean.
2. Ditch plastic food storage containers.
Aside from the significant environmental impacts of plastics, using it for storing leftovers just isn’t a great idea. I’m not so freaked out about my food being in cold or room-temperature plastic containers (although there are many natural-living advocates who strongly discourage it). It’s the fact that it is all too easy to reheat leftovers right in the container you stored them in. And heating food in plastic is a big no for me.
Think about it. We’ve all seen those old, seen-better-days plastic leftover containers that have that weird melty looking ring around the inside, right? Or the red-tinted ones that have stored tomato sauce time and time again? Well what do you suppose that means for what is happening to the plastic? It’s being broken down. And you can’t convince me that chemicals from the plastic don’t enter the food that’s in the container.
Glass is a much better option. I like Pyrex storage containers best (made in the USA, by the way).
3. Ditch individually packaged foods and beverages.
So. Much. Packaging. And all that waste! And I get it. I really do. Individually packaged foods and beverages are so convenient! And sometimes, it helps you to lower food waste. I mean, I could buy a huge glass jar of applesauce at Costco and have soooo much less waste than if I buy the little individual cups (and save a ton of money). But I would have to feed my kids applesauce non-stop in order to actually use it all and not throw any away.
So what’s the solution? I say, just be more cautious about buying foods that are packaged in small quantities. Y’all know I’m not all-or-nothing about this green thing. There are things I buy individually wrapped (like granola bars). But I really try to stay away from most individually wrapped foods.
Getting started with composting might not be so easy for some, especially people who live in an apartment with no outdoor space to call their own. But if you do have some outdoor space, you can totally start composting. There are lots of compost bin options that keep compost completely contained (and there are even countertop compost canisters that you can keep indoors).
And even if you don’t have a vegetable or herb garden, you can still use compost in your ornamental beds. Your plants will thank you for the organic goodness and you’ll be keeping all of that great, earth-feeding stuff out of the landfill.
5. Unplug countertop appliances.
Simple, no-cost way to go green and save money. It takes a bit to really get into the habit, and it might seem weird at first to not have the clock set on your microwave and coffee maker. But really. How many clocks do you need in one room?? Save on electricity by unplugging small appliances when they are not in use.
6. Change out your cleaners.
I don’t think it’s any mystery or secret that conventional cleaning products are full of dangerous chemicals, so I won’t go into those details. And I’m not saying you have to take the leap to making all of your own cleaners. But changing out your conventional cleaning products for more earth-friendly alternatives is another step you can make that is better for the environment AND your health.
Use this consumer guide by Environmental Working Group to choose healthier cleaners.
7. Upgrade your appliances.
If it’s in your budget, look at upgrading to more energy efficient appliances – especially if your appliances are decades old. Modern appliances are so much more efficient. Look for the Energy Star label.
8. Change your food choices.
In most places, it is more expensive to buy organic, non-gmo foods. But if you can work it into your budget, they are better for you and the environment. I don’t think it’s truly possible to go 100% organic, unless you farm or live in a farming community where organic farming is the norm. So choose the foods that make most sense. We use the EWG Dirty Dozen guide and opt for organic meats and dairy. If organic is not available or too expensive, we look for hormone, antibiotic, and steroid free meats and dairy.
The good thing is that organic and non-gmo foods are becoming more and more available and affordable to the average consumer. Especially with online shopping services like Abe’s Market, Thrive Market and Amazon (Prime Pantry and Subscribe & Save are too great ways to save money of food items with Amazon).
9. Cook with less meat.
Meat has heavy impacts on the environment. And us Americans tend to eat a whole lot more of it than we really need. If you’re not ready to quit meat altogether (I’ll be the first to raise my hand on that one!), try reducing the amount of meat you eat.
If you follow my Meal Plan Mondays, you’ve seen we go meat-free at dinner at least once a week. It’s really not that difficult. My meat-and-potatoes hubby doesn’t seem to be fazed by it. Also, we almost always go meat free for weekday breakfasts, and often for weekend breakfasts. We almost always have leftovers for lunch, so it’s hit or miss whether or not meat is included there.
Another option, if you are not ready to try meat-free meals, is to use less meat. Use 3/4 or 1/2 pound of ground beef or chicken breast where you’d normally use a pound. That’s a common tip among frugal living folks too!
It seems obvious. But I’m always surprised by how many people don’t do it. Curbside recycling is becoming so much more commonplace, which makes recycling a no-brainer. I know that in some areas you have to pay extra for curbside recycling and you are able to opt out of it. Here in my community, we do pay a fee for it but it isn’t optional. If it were though, I would be happy to pay that fee to be able to take my recycling right to my curb.
If curbside recycling isn’t available in your area, look for recycling drop sites. Just recycle what you can reasonably recycle based on the resources available to you and don’t sweat the rest. Remember – doing something is better than doing nothing!
What are some ways you’ve gone green in your kitchen? Let’s learn from each other – share in the comments!
Looking for other ideas for going green at home? Follow my Pinterest board, Eco Home, where I pin great finds from around the web!