Your food choices and what’s inside your kitchen is a key way to impact your sustainability. One of the most obvious ways is to try to reduce packaging and food waste, but there are other ways too!
Remember not to be too hard on yourself, but if you want change, make it happen! Be prepared to spend a bit more sometimes (biodegradable dish soap is usually more than the regular, overly fragrant stuff, as an example), but remember you’ll save $$ too (like when you don’t have to buy paper towels or plastic snack bags)!
In the Kitchen/ Eating Out:
1. Use cloth shopping bags:
Once you get used to this, it will become second nature! Carry things if you’re just buying a few items and forget the bag. Keep cloth shopping bags in your car or in your purse to make things simple!
2. Eat organic:
Organic food is usually not sprayed, which means by choosing organic foods you don’t contribute to mass spraying of (potentially toxic) chemicals! Yes, it’s sometimes more expensive—but it really depends what you’re comparing organic food to. If you’re eating in and cooking with organic ingredients versus eating out, you’re likely saving money by eating organic! The more we buy organic, the more the prices will eventually drop (it’s supply & demand).
3. Ditch paper towels & mesh cloths:
Use tea towels and plain-old dishcloths! Throw them in the wash when they get dirty. Have a rag on hand (under the sink is a good spot for it) for cleaning up messes (like spilled wine or almond milk ;0). Paper towels are an unnecessary 21st luxury we can simply live without.
4. Don’t use parchment paper:
OK it may look nice for photos and all (I’ve no idea why). But remember when recipes called for greasing pans? This is a sustainable way to go! We don’t need to be throwing away paper that’s been doused in sulfuric acid! Use a pastry brush to grease pans (with oils, like coconut or sunflower oil).
5. Ditch plastic snack / sandwich bags, too:
These may be convenient because you don’t have to wash containers (just throw away the bag)—but really? A little plastic bag for each and every afternoon snack? Sounds excessive! Use small reusable containers instead.
6. Buy eco-friendly dish soaps and cleaning projects:
They may be more expensive, but let’s not pollute our water with chemicals and fragrances that we just don’t need (dish soap usually doesn’t even smell that nice, anyways!). There are many “eco-friendly” and more biodegradable soaps and cleaning products on the market. Some people make their own cleaning products, and swear by lemon and vinegar. Outside of the kitchen, there are lots of eco-friendly shampoos, soaps and laundry soaps, too.
7. Buy bulk (when possible):
This may not be so easy, but buying bulk—especially things you can store for a while (grains, oils, pulses etc.)—likely means less packaging and plastic. Stores are even popping up in some cities where you can bring your own containers and fill them up! So cool …
8. Avoid individually wrapped things:
… like tea, coffee pods, cookies, candies, oatmeal … seriously? Why do we need to wrap tea bags in plastic wrappers (we don’t even need the tea bag in the first place, another unnecessary 21st century luxury)?! Boxes of oatmeal packets, boxes of plastic-wrapped cookies in a plastic-wrapped plastic tray … boycott these products! It’s out of hand!
9. Plan your meals – don’t throw out your food:
This may sound simple, but it’s a challenge for many. Don’t buy more than you need or are going to eat, you’ll end up throwing things away. If you have leftovers or food in the fridge, don’t go out to eat! If things are going bad, find a creative way to use them (browning bananas for banana bread is always a popular example 🙂 )
10. When eating out:
Avoid to-go boxes unless they’re cardboard (eww Styrofoam), choose restaurants that use real plates, cutlery, etc. (as if I even have to write this, but I do!). Honestly, we’ve taken things to far: a plastic fork for one meal, paper or Styrofoam coffee cups for our coffees to go … if we don’t stop this we’ll soon be drowning in our garbage! And ruining the oceans (we already are 😦 )!
It can take Styrofoam 500 years or longer to decompose … same with some plastics. Make sure to ask for a regular mug when ordering your coffee (as if we have to do this, but we do!), use reusable mugs or boycott restaurants and cafes that don’t use real plates and cutlery. It’s OK to be picky!