Nutrition Articles

8 Ways to 'Green' Your Kitchen

Reduce the Waste to Protect the Planet

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Greening your life—reducing your impact on the environment—takes a little research and planning. Because the kitchen is the most waste-producing room in an average house, it's a great place to start. The best way to do it is slowly, by starting with the easy, budget-friendly choices and moving on from there. Here are eight simple ways to green your kitchen.

1. Exile excessive packaging. Oats, popcorn, flour, pasta, dried fruit, beans, and even cereal can be purchased in the bulk section (also called the bag and weigh section) of your local natural foods grocery. Some mainstream supermarkets are even catching on to this eco-friendly trend. You simply scoop what you want out of a large covered bin and then the cashier weighs it when you check out. Although the store usually provides plastic bags, bringing your own reusable containers is a better option. Have a cashier weigh your containers while empty, and then the cashier will subtract that weight from the filled container.

If you can’t find your favorite foods in the bulk section, try to select the largest size that you can reasonably use (white vinegar will last forever, and can be purchased in gallon jugs, for example), or choose the brand that is packaged in cardboard or recyclable plastic, and be sure to recycle it when you’re through.

If you’re packing your lunch, use reusable containers instead of plastic baggies for lunch items, and tote them all to work or school in a reusable lunch bag. Many of these bags are insulated too, so your lunch will stay fresher.

BONUS: Packaging costs money too, so by buying in bulk and portioning out the food yourself, you'll save cash!

2. Consider compost. Onion peels, carrot trimmings, apple cores, and egg shells will all become nutrient-rich dirt in a few months if you toss them in the compost. If they wind up in the landfill however, chances are they’ll stick around for a lot longer. Oxygen is necessary to keep the decomposing process moving along, but landfills are designed to keep air and water out. A carrot stick in a landfill could stick around for over a decade.

To compost, you can buy or build a compost bin, or if you have a big yard, a simple compost pile will work just as well. If you don’t have a yard, check out worm composting, which you can do in your own kitchen. Completed compost can be used to fertilize vegetable or flower gardens, container gardens, and even houseplants, returning nourishment to the soil instead of clogging up the already over-crowded landfills.
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

    Hi Liza, This article on the importance of incorporating greens to our daily diet is really great. As a child, I always remember my mother telling us to eat all the greens on our plate...hehehe... And it pays. I do the same with my children. Please, do recommend this to your readers and subscribers. Thanks.
    ing_healthy - 7/30/2015 12:31:50 PM
  • I use well water. I drink that. It's great. - 12/21/2013 6:14:59 PM
  • I've had too many things living in or flying out of containers of food I've purchased in the bulk bins (even at the $$$ stores). I'll pay the extra and get the package. - 7/20/2012 2:41:27 PM
  • CaroleCox - you can always reuse the bags. I keep clean bags in a zip lock bag to reuse for bulk items. When they finally wear out I recycle them, but not before. It's interesting to see how long some of them last! - 7/20/2012 2:08:12 PM
  • Gnuattitude, I understand your concerns regarding things you would eat raw, like nuts, but things you are going to cook, like oats and pasta, wouldn't be a problem. Any germs transferred would be eliminated. So don't let that deter you! - 7/20/2012 9:07:13 AM
  • I wonder how unsanitary the scoops in bulk food are. No thanks. - 6/19/2012 8:25:20 AM
    Hi, this is for Panadot. You can easily figure out how much water used by rinsing from the faucet instead of filling the sink. Plug the sink and then rinse from the faucet. You can see how much water fills the sink as you rinse. We often travel in a motorhome and saving water is an issue for us. I use a bowl or pan in the rinse side and fill it as i'm rinsing & then use it to rinse the rest of the dishes. We are able to conserve water pretty painlessly. - 6/8/2012 1:10:38 PM
    This was an interesting perspective on eating locally that I came across last week, suggesting that economically and environmentally it may be more or less a wash (although there are still other good reasons):
    t-necessarily-better - 5/7/2012 10:21:49 PM
  • I do use a faucet-mount water filter and reusable water bottles and I do love to go the local farmer's markets when I can. A lot of "eco-friendly" ideas are not exactly "pocket-friendly" and if I have to make a choice, I have to go with my pocket! - 4/29/2012 7:19:30 PM
  • Actually, Elliminty is not exactly correct. I used to think the same way until I took two Environmental Science classes. The reason to buy organic is not to get "more nutrients" but to save our planet. The nitrates and other stuff that is fertilized in our ground is messing up the ecosystem. Some chemicals (allowed in Mexico) like DDT, are harmful to humans. These chemicals end up in the plant and we eat them. If we don't stop polluting our planet, we may not recognize our planet in less than 60 years!

    So while the nutrients remain the same, there are much more important reasons to buy organic. - 4/29/2012 6:14:06 PM
  • I bought a filtered water bottle and use it every day. I plan to buy a filter for the faucet. We still use bottled water because it is easier to pack in a lunch box - 9/22/2011 3:25:14 PM
  • Also, I wish they would have included information for those of us who don't own a dishwasher - are there ways to conserve water when I'm washing a sink full of dishes? I usually fill up the sink with sudsy water, and the other basin with rinse water, instead of running it constantly, but I'm not really sure which is better. - 6/1/2011 11:28:11 AM
  • I'd like to add to this:

    #9: Ditch the paper towels and paper napkins! We started purchasing cloth napkins a few years ago (both "everyday" and "fancy") at thrift stores and when they were on sale at Target, etc. Plus, we started cutting up old towels and buying cheap rags to use for cleaning. We rarely ever have to buy paper towel anymore - maybe a 12-pack once every two years? Plus, the rags work so much better for cleaning, and all of it can just be thrown in the wash! - 6/1/2011 11:18:41 AM
  • We got a bench top water filter in December.
    We have stainless steel water bottles.
    The water is always refreshing.
    I have water at hand & it's easy to stay hydrated. - 4/17/2011 11:30:10 AM
    Point of order:
    Buying organic can make you feel good, but as for the food being more nutrient-rich, it's a myth. No studies have proven that there are more nutrients in organically-grown foods: in fact, they're about the same as any other less-processed food (excluding tomatoes, which should be cooked to get the most out of them, nutrient-wise).

    Also, organic farmers do use pesticides and herbicides as well as fertillizers: they just use "natural" chemicals, rather than synthetics. If you check what it takes for a farm to be certified organic, you'll see what I mean.

    I'm not saying that Organic is bad. All I'm saying is that Organic as better is a bit of a myth that should be researched before it's promoted by folks whom everyday folks like us trust as experts! If buying Organic makes you feel good, or you feel it tastes better, go for it! But don't spend extra money you might not have buying organic when you could be heading out to a local farmer's market! Their food might not be certified organic, but I garuntee you it will taste fantastic! - 3/29/2011 9:52:17 AM

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