They say the kitchen is the most popular room in the home. It’s where we nourish ourselves and our families, gather with friends, and experience gustatory marvels both sweet and savory. A room with such a prominent role in the household likely goes through multiple style renovations and updates, but looks aren’t all that matters. High-traffic rooms, such as the kitchen, should be held to high standards when it comes to environmentally friendliness, as well.
Here are some tips to make your kitchen space as green as can be without costly expenditures. These easy swaps will ensure a gentler impact on the planet, your bank account, and your patience.
Make Your Kitchen Greener
1. Swap Paper Towels for Reusable Cloths
Tossing out paper towels after every use can really add up. Luckily, there are tons of options out there for reusable and washable cloth alternatives. These biodegradable Skoy cloths can last much longer than a 10-pack of what you usually buy — and they can be composted once you’re done with them. You could also use sections of rags, towels, and even t-shirts to give them a new life and new purpose. Not only will this swap cut down on wasted paper products, but it will also reduce clutter on your countertops and expenses at the store.
2. Swap Store-Bought Condiments for Homemade
It is an excellent decision to recycle our glass, plastic, and canned containers. Yet why not be even more Earth-friendly and cut back on the need to buy these products in the first place? Try your hand at crafting your own ketchup or BBQ sauce from gifted or gardened tomatoes. Whip up homemade salsa, pasta sauce, cashew-based sour cream (and even other culinary creations like bread, cookies, pasta and gnocchi, iced tea, refried beans, etc.) with ease and minimal impact on the planet.
3. Swap Plastic Straws for Glass or Stainless Steel
If you are someone who enjoys drinking their soda through a straw (hey, it can help with keeping teeth white!), there is no reason to keep using disposable plastic versions when hardy, reusable, and affordable glass versions exist. You can also find stainless steel straws, if you prefer the aesthetic.
4. Swap Cheap Appliances and Tools for Longer-Lasting Models
Cheap measuring cups can break apart, cheap toasters can break down, and cheap coffee grinders can lose their vigor. Instead of replacing these tools with the most budget-friendly versions in a pinch, consider investing in stronger and higher-quality versions to be more Earth-friendly, too. They will give you less of a headache and the planet less clutter in a landfill.
5. Swap Chemical-Laden Cleaners for More Natural Versions
It is tempting to reach for the stuff that makes your eyes water when it’s time to deep clean any room of the house. However, more natural ingredients can do an excellent job of getting rid of dirt and grime. The kitchen isn’t the only place where you can make your cleaning practice greener, but it is a good place to start. Stock up on some cheap and effective basics, such as white vinegar, baking soda, and lemons. You can also find bulk soaps at health food stores and fill them up with your own containers, thereby cutting back on unnecessary plastic waste.
6. Swap Food Waste for Food Prep
Be realistic: how often does uneaten food languish in your fridge before ultimately ending up in the trash can? Your honest answer is probably similar to many others’. To cut back on food waste it takes a healthy dose of both planning and creativity.
Before each week starts, create a menu of the meals you’d like to make and then resist impulse shopping and only buy the ingredients for those recipes. Spend some time chopping and prepping the foods you buy (there’s nothing less appealing than hungrily peering into the fridge and seeing hard work to be done, instead of fresh and ready ingredients to be thrown together). And lastly, get creative with the food that doesn’t quickly make its way to your plate. Sad-looking veggies and their scraps can be frozen for making into a broth later. Brown bananas can be whipped into a delicious banana bread. Stale bread can be ground into bread crumbs and placed in the freezer. If all else fails, do a quick internet search of how to repurpose your end-of-the-week groceries and the ideas will flow.
Katie Medlock is a writer, mental health counselor, and educator on a quest to make the world a better place. Her writing has appeared on Headspace, Inhabitat, Care2, Ravishly, and Chic Vegan. On her days off, you will find her cooking, catching up on nerdy podcasts, blogging at The Offbeat Herbivore (https://offbeatherbivore.com), or lounging with her partner and rescue dachshund.
How will you make your kitchen greener? If you have any eco-friendly tips to share, comment below or post on our Facebook and Twitter.