1. Get Lots of Freezer Space. This tip is key and, if you have an Instant Pot, you can truly spare yourself many last-minute grocery trips! While it does take some extra energy to run the freezer, the gas and time it saves running to the store will more than cover the cost.
We store our local beef - including ground, various cuts, soup bones and even organ meats (which are often hard to find in your typical grocery store), extra milk, sourdough bread (we typically bake multiple loaves at a time) and extra garden veggies. We’ve even been known to buy a whole wheel of cheese, cut it into week-sized wedges and freeze them. Can anyone say pregnancy cravings?
Try keeping an extra fridge in your laundry room, garage or squeeze a small deep freezer in your pantry.
2. Get Tear-off Reusable Napkins. This was a fun tip shared with me in college by some friends I lived with. These napkins come in a roll and you just tear one off and, after using, throw it in the wash. They are smaller than your typical cloth napkin and only last for a few meals before becoming too thin, so its not something you have to make room for in your linen closet. It’s a great way to cut down on paper waste and it adds a fancy touch to your everyday meals.
3. Trade Your Paper Towels for Bamboo Cloths. These bamboo towels can be used for basically anything you use a paper towel for, but can be washed and reused over and over again. We love them especially because they dry super well and no matter what you use them for they don’t seem to absorb smells. Throw them in the dishwasher or laundry and keep using them. Old wash cloths and even cut up t-shirts can also be good alternatives.
4. Cut the Lights at Night: Use Candlelight. Okay, you may be laughing at this one, but you would be surprised at the benefits that using candlelight gives you! First, you cut down on energy costs by leaving the lights off, but you also promote deep, restful sleep by removing artificial light, which can inhibit melatonin.
Candles of course, add a special, romantic touch to your meals and - if you ask us - more people need to get excited about staying in and enjoying healthful home-cooked meals.
It's ideal to use non-toxic candles without artificial fragrances and paraffin wax. During holiday specials we sometimes offer handmade tallow candles for sale that are scented with essential oils, or you could venture to make your own at home with beeswax and coconut oil.
5. Replace Your Plastic Tupperware with Glass. Glass lasts indefinitely (unless you’re in a bad mood when you do dishes... don’t ask us how we know). Glass will not leach chemicals into your food when stored or reheated and is much easier to clean than plastic which tends to stay greasy, stain and absorb smells.
It's pretty easy to find glass storage container at discount stores like Ross and Home Goods.
6. Use a Thermos Instead of To-Go Cups. When you make your coffee for work, or fill up at your favorite coffee shop, why not bring along a favorite insulated mug or thermos. I know, it can be a new habit to remember to bring a thermos with you and clean it at the end of the day, but it is a huge benefit to both you and the planet!
Coffee lids, especially black ones can harbor some pretty nasty chemicals and when heated (as with hot coffee) you release them into your drink. Styrofoam, a common to-go coffee cup is essentially never broken down in the environment and is found in so much of our waterways polluting the environment and poisoning wildlife.
7. Reuse Your Grocery Bags. You’ve heard this one many times, but with as much plastic bag waste we continue to have in our world its worth repeating! Not only can you use your large reusable grocery sacks, we also love the idea of reusing produce bags.
Natural Grocers does a great job on both of these ideas. You can purchase their reusable shopping bags (they often give them away for free during special events!), but they also provide brown paper bags or green compostable bags for produce. I use them over and over again.
8. Make the Switch to Cast-Iron. If you're used to using non-stick pans, cast-iron provides a longer-lasting, non-toxic cookware option. Non-stick pans need to be replaced often (if you notice any wear or scratches, they should be replaced as the chemicals used to coat them are now ending up in your food!).
Cast-iron will easily outlive you - we’ve got some from our grandparents. Once you pass the learning curve, it’ll easily become your favorite low-maintenance cookware! See this post to learn more about using cast-iron.
9. Install a Water Filter or use a Countertop Option. The pros of the filter faucets you install right next to your sink are that they make cooking, filling water bottles, and brewing kombucha loads easier. The cons are, if for some reason your water gets cut off, you won’t have a source. The countertop models do need to be refilled from your sink, but they can also filter lake or pond water if necessary.
Additionally, buy some sturdy stainless steel or glass water bottles and your kitchen will be fully plastic-free! No more stocking up on cases of plastic water bottles from the grocery store in times of crisis.
10. Compost Your Kitchen Scraps. This saves a ton of room in your trash can and adds fertility back to the earth. A compost pile is a necessity if you plan on having a garden, so go ahead and get some good organic matter started by adding your fruit and veggie scraps and coffee grounds to a pile of leaves and yard trimmings outside.
Share your kitchen sustainability tips in the comments below and stick around next week for more in our Live Sustainably series.