10 Ways to Green Up Your Kitchen
As our culture shifts towards sustainability, we've made your first steps easier for you with our list of ways to green up your kitchen. Read on below!
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Stop buying disposable plastic bags.
One of the first steps you should take to green up your kitchen is to stop buying disposable plastic bags. Don't feel compelled to throw away the ones you have, just stop purchasing new plastic bags. Once you don’t have them in your house you’ll be forced to find creative solutions for food storage and every other use you had for them. It will be a challenge at times, but it is one of the single best things you can do to green up your kitchen. Glass containers don’t have the chemicals that plastic containers do, and tend to last a whole lot longer to boot. Choose mason jars with resealable lids, or Pyrex containers. Skip the "reusable plastic bags" because let's be real, plastic bags are already reusable, we just don't treat them as such. Bonus points if you can find glass containers from a second-hand shop!
Think quality over quantity.
Purchase well-made pieces for your kitchen that you can use for the rest of your life. Find pieces made of natural materials that have a smaller impact on the environment, and shop classic styles over trendy items that you’ll discard after a few seasons. Drinkware made from copper is a great choice. Copper drinkware is durable and easy to clean. Over time it could develop a pretty patina, or you can polish it to keep it as shiny as a new penny. Check out our copper drinkware lineup over in our shop!
Olive wood utensils and kitchenware are also great options for durable kitchen items that will stay in style and last for decades. Olive wood trees grow with twisted and gnarled branches which creates beautiful designs in the wood grain. Our olive wood products are all-natural, with no treatments or chemicals ever used in the production process.
Cast iron cookware is also a great choice for sustainable kitchenware when you want to green up your kitchen. It's insanely durable and will serve you well for decades. Teflon coated cookware seeps toxic chemicals into the food you cook and into the air, especially when heated! Bonus points for cast iron: you can move it directly from the stovetop to the oven, saving on dishes needed to prepare a meal.
Stop using paper towels.
The manufacturing process being paper products is notoriously a dirty one, especially considering its impact on food, air, and water quality. Try using linen napkins for meals and keep a well-stocked pile of reusable towels for everyday spills and cleanups.
If you're not quite able to cut paper towels out of your kitchen completely, choose towels made of bamboo, which is a very quick-growing grass and is a much more environmentally-friendly choice. They are often machine washable and reusable up to 120+ times before discarding.
For all the Millenials out there who have always used paper towels instead of paper dinner napkins, it's time to invest in some everyday cloth napkins. Of course, you can have as much fun with colored and patterned napkins as you like, but start with a great set of polyester (so they'll release stains) napkins.
Set up a composting system to green up your kitchen.
Food scraps are one of the easiest things to divert from the landfill and reuse as “black gold” in your yard or garden. When food scraps end up in landfills they don’t receive the necessary air or water to break down, and they produce more methane gas. By using these scraps in your soil you are saving the environment from methane pollution and benefiting your own yard and garden! Recycling at its finest right here.
Keep a compost pail on your kitchen counter to fill with vegetable peels, onion skins, coffee grounds, and other produce scraps. Once the pail is full, bring it outside to your compost bin. There are numerous options for compost bins to purchase or DIY yourself. Choose one that makes sense for your composting needs and the size of your yard. Garden waste, such as leaves and grass clippings are perfect additions to your compost bin as well.
Grow your own herbs and produce.
Gardening is a great way to green up your kitchen because it reduces food waste and reduces the environmental impact of shopping at traditional grocery stores.
Gardening can feel like a daunting task, but start small, such as growing herbs on a windowsill. Container gardening can be a good next step and adding garden beds to your yard the next step still. If you only have patio space, consider hanging plants and windowsill planters. Try to find terracotta or ceramic pots instead of plastic planters to minimize plastic consumption.
If your outdoor space is nonexistent, there are probably other people in your community who are facing the same issue. Look into community gardens, or ask your landlord about installing a rooftop garden above your apartments.
If you live in a house you own, with any amount of a yard, consider adding raised garden beds. Start small so it stays manageable, and grow a little bit every year as you discover what grows well for you and what you enjoy.
Embrace the Meatless Monday.
Modern agricultural practices are one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Choose a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds over meats and embrace the health benefits for yourself and the environment. Start small, and remember to find replacements for what you’re cutting out instead of trying to go cold turkey. (Excuse the pun!)
Visit your library or purchase vegan and vegetarian cookbooks such as Thug Kitchen or Eat Feel Fresh. If you eat out, try ethnic restaurants such as Indian, Ethiopian or Thai food and pick plant-based dishes. Ask your server at your usual spots what the best vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu are. There are probably some delicious options that you've never tried before!
Shop local as much as possible.
Shopping local has a lower carbon footprint, and bonus - you help keep dollars in your community instead of going to large national brands that you’ll never see a return from. When you shop small you are helping families put their kids in after school activities.
Also, more than 85% of farmers' markets vendors travel less than 50 miles to where they sell produce, compared to the average of 1500 miles that produce in traditional grocery stores travels to get to shelves. Pollution associated with transportation is greatly reduced when you shop at farmers' markets. Also, the vendors at farmers' markets are usually smaller, family operations, which generally use fewer chemicals in their farming and are more likely to use organic practices. Read our 10 Reasons to Shop Farmers' Markets!
Skip the bottled water and disposable coffee cups.
Anne Hathaway recently said in an interview, that if you can remember your keys and your cell phone every day, you can remember to bring a water bottle and coffee cup with you every day. A staggering 60 million water bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every single day.
Find a water bottle you like, or find several, and keep them with you and in all your spaces at home and at work so you're never tempted to purchase a disposable bottle or cup. I have several insulated tumblers like this one by Yeti, and I like that I can drink both hot and cold drinks comfortably from the lid. I find traditional water bottles aren't enjoyable to drink coffee out of, and most travel coffee mugs aren't ideal for drinking water out of.
Shop with reusable bags.
Cities, states and countries across the world are banning plastic bags at a quick rate as the damage they do to our world becomes more apparent. Green up your kitchen by keeping a reusable bag tucked in your purse so when you inevitably forget your bags in your car or at home, you have a spare! Make a point of bringing the bags back out to your car after you put away groceries so you’re sure to have them with you. There have been several times I’ve had to ask a cashier to hold items while I run out to grab the reusable bags I had forgotten in my car, and I’ve never even had so much as an eye roll from it. Commit to keeping shopping bags with you and using them!
Make your own cleaning products to green up your kitchen.
If you're looking to green up your kitchen, and even your whole house, try making your own cleaning products. Traditional household cleaning products often contain harmful chemicals, and those chemicals end up in our water supply and in our air. Vinegar is naturally anti-microbial due to its high acidity level, so it works wonders in the kitchen. Mix up your own cleaning solution with lemon or orange juices to add a fresh flavor.