Sustainability in the Kitchen
For me sustainability is something that should be a part of every aspect of life. The definition of sustainability is to maintain at a certain rate or level. This means that sustainability can be applied to EVERYTHING. Home living, fitness, food, cleaning, traveling, clothing, the possibilities are endless. Sustainability holds a special place in my heart because I know that as humans we take advantage of this beautiful earth we have been gifted and that we MUST change the way we do things to preserve it. We will not have a place to live if we do not take care of our earth. That is a completely different topic for another time though. I could talk about climate change and humans all day if someone would let me.
One of the first ways that I integrated sustainability into my life when I moved into one of my first houses was sustainable kitchen practices! You truly do not realize how much waste you create in the kitchen until you start trying to cut back. At first this was super hard for me, not buying paper towels, not having plastic bags, I had no idea what to do with the majority of stuff I would cook, I didn't know what to do when I cleaned, etc. But I read up. I read and read and read until I felt comfortable and then I went shopping. It is true that sustainable living will be a larger upfront cost but let me tell you, I haven't bought paper towels in the last two years and I can't even imagine how much money I have saved! Combine that with all of the other techniques and products I use I know that I am saving TONS in the long-term. -Rags- I use rags for EVERYTHING. Need to wipe up a mess? Use a rag! Anything you might use a paper towel for I use a rag. I have a laundry basket that we keep in the kitchen that we throw all the dirty rags in and we wash them about once a week! I just bought a bunch of dish rags from Walmart I am pretty sure to start my collection and I keep them in a basket on the counter.
-Wipes- Instead of buying Clorox or whatever wipes you buy, I make my own! I have a seal-able jar that sits on our counter that has rags that have been cut in half and put in an easy to make solution! The recipe I use is from Pinterest and you can find tons of them on there!
-Bags- Instead of using plastic bags to put snacks in and what not, we use recyclable and paper bags that you can find on the internet! The ones we have can seal which I love and I love that they can easily be recycled.
-Jars and Tupperware- Instead of storing things in plastic bags we also just use jars and tupperware for literally EVERYTHING. Our jar collection has gotten to be a little insane but these are all things that can be easily washed and preserve freshness really well! -Bee's Wax Wrap- Plastic wrap is nice but it is super wasteful, instead we use bee's was wrap which acts like plastic wrap and can be used to cover food but is washable and reusable. You can buy it but you can also make it!
-Straws- The collection of straws we have at our house is also insane. We have plastic straws, metal straws, and big rubber straws. We use these all the time and we even have key chain straws for on the go! I drink a lot more water if I drink through a straw so I stick a rubber straw in my Nalgene to make sure I am drinking enough water.
-Water Bottles- We do not buy water bottles at our house. We only use reusable ones! We are lucky because we live in Colorado where the tap water is absolutely AMAZING and we don't need to drink bottled water. If you live somewhere where the water isn't as good invest in a water filter!
-Tumblers- We also use tumblers for absolutely everything! Anytime I go to a place and I can, I will take my own container to have them put my drink in! We have a wonderful collection of tumblers that I have secured through years of clearance aisles and impulse buys and they are finally starting to pay off.
-Loose Leaf Tea- Instead of drinking tea in tea bags which I still sometimes do because my favorite teas come only in BAGS. Try using loose leaf tea that can be composted! There are also loose leaf tea bags that can be used that are compost-able as well.
-Grocery Bags- Take reusable bags with you to the store when you go grocery shopping! This is the easiest way to cut down on plastic waste that you are procuring. If you easily forget your bags keep some in your trunk or back seat so you always have some handy! I carry a bag that fold into a tiny little parcel to keep in my purse as well so when I am shopping I don't have to take a bag no matter where I am! I carry a really small purse too and the bag barely takes up any room!
-Produce Bags- Aside from grocery bags we also use produce bags that are reusable. The bags are awesome for produce but also for bulk items such as rice, nuts, beans, oats, trail mix, etc. You can easily order these on the internet or find them at Sprouts or any similar grocery store.
-Buying Things in Bulk- We also buy a ton of things in bulk to eliminate the amount of packaging we bring into the house. When you buy in bulk you have the opportunity to put the items in whatever container you choose- I usually just stick them in the produce bags I have and stick a tag with the product number on them and transfer them to jars when I get home! Buying in bulk is an easy way to make sure that you aren't bringing in a lot of unnecessary waste.
-Making your own food- I am HUGE on meal prepping! And I meal prep basically everything. I make my own granola bars, energy bites, breakfast sandwiches, bread, you name it! Making your own sources of food not only eliminates waste but you also know that you are feeding yourself wholesome things that TASTE SO GOOD. I made granola bars last week that lasted a total of 4 days I think because they were so damn good.
-Cleaning Products- Instead of buying new products every time we run out of something I have spray bottles that we keep under the sink and we use basic cleaning products to clean the entire house. I use essential oils and cleaning vinegar to clean super tough stains (and cleaning vinegar comes in a recyclable container!) and then we also buy the Meyers house cleaning solution that is concentrated and we mix that in a spray bottled to use around the house as well.
There are so many more things that I could be doing in our kitchen to make our lives more sustainable to help our Earth but this is definitely a good starting point. My next project is to start composting again and bring our waste in the kitchen down to virtually nothing! If you have nay questions about any of the stuff I talked about or need recommendations please let me know.
Sustainability is something that I truly feel we should all be trying to implement if we have the capabilities. It is hard at first but it is a lifestyle that reaps so many benefits.