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We should always be trying to do little things when we can to lower our own impact. If everyone does it, it adds up and can have a real effect. In my kitchen, I’m focusing on a few key areas in order to increase how I reduce, reuse, and recycle. Here are five ways to make your kitchen more sustainable, and do your part to help out our planet. And bonus: these are super easy, and some of them even save you money!
Stop Single Use Straws
You’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this lately. And I’m sure you’ve noticed some of your favorite restaurants and hotel chains banning plastic straws. In most cases, these places are developing other disposable alternatives like paper straws or lids that don’t need straws at all. These are great solutions, but something you can do on your own is to use reusable straws wherever you can.
I didn’t use plastic straws at home in most cases, but sometimes they are helpful, like for smoothies, milkshakes, or cocktails. In those cases, having a selection of reusable straws made of hard plastic has been a life saver. As a bonus, they are super adorable, and make excellent Instagram photos!
Un-Paper Your Towels
Paper towels are such a difficult habit to break. It’s just too easy to reach for the roll whenever you wash your hands, rinse off produce, or clean a pan. In our house, we’re trying to switch to reusable paper towels as our default drying tool.
These are thin, more like a tea-towel than a standard kitchen towel, and they are machine washable. The set we got came with 16 towels, so it’s super easy to grab a new one whenever one gets too wet or dirty. We got ours as part of our wedding registry kitchen haul, but here’s a similar set.
Save Glass Jars
This is something I’ve been doing for years, so my jar collection is pretty impressive, but you can start with just one. When you buy pickles, pasta sauce, yeast, or anything that comes in a free glass jar, keep it! Usually a couple runs through the dishwasher or a soak with some baking soda can make these as good as new.
I keep a variety of different sized jars, and I use them for all sorts of short-term storage. For example, I keep a pickle jar in my freezer filled with homemade vegetable bouillon. I use old jam jars to store fruit fillings for pie. If you’re doing long-term storage, you’ll still want to use canning jars, but these saved ones work in a pinch.
Ice Out Ice Cubes
We don’t tend to think of ice as a place where we waste water, but it totally is! I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve used the ice maker in our freezer, and then had to dump it all out to make room for groceries or our ice cream maker. It feels likes a total waste to just toss all those ice cubes down the drain. But unless we’re throwing a party, we don’t use a ton of ice in our day-to-day lives. When I do need to chill a drink, I’ve been keeping a bag of reusable ice cubes in my freezer. Mine are shaped like Mickey Mouse, because I’m obsessed with Disney, but you can find these in all kinds of shapes and colors.
As a bonus, they are especially useful when I’m making cocktails, because they chill the drinks effectively without watering them down. Cocktail making inherently wastes a lot of ice. You shake with ice and then strain. With these reusable ice cubes, you can just quickly rinse, and throw them back in the freezer when done.
Support Local Farms
Eating more local produce is one of my major kitchen resolutions for 2019, and I am well on my way to improving the way I do that. This doesn’t just boost your local economy and support small businesses (always a good idea!) but it helps cut down your overall impact. If your fruits and veggies are being shipped across the country, that means more trucks on the road burning fossil fuels, and contributing to climate troubles.
We recently signed up for a CSA. Have you heard of community supported agriculture? It’s where you pay up front to a local farm, and in return, you get freshly harvested produce throughout the summer. You can find one near you! But you don’t need to fully commit a CSA to make a difference. You can change things in small ways by checking the source of the produce in your grocery store, and asking the produce department when they plan on getting in shipments from local farms. You can also visit your local farmers market or roadside fruit stands.
As a bonus, the local produce tends to be better: sweeter berries, crisper vegetables; and sometimes even cheaper, since they’ve cut out the middle man!
What do you do in your kitchen to lower your impact? Share your tips and let me know if you plan on trying these!