Save your footprint for the sand! Although food waste and sustainability are global issues, it is up to each of us to try and do our part to cut down on the waste we create. While it may be daunting to adopt an entirely sustainable, zero waste lifestyle, even simple kitchen hacks can help reduce our individual environmental footprint.
Waste Not, Want Not
Thoughtful meal planning and grocery shopping can be proactive ways to cut down on food waste. Try to plan your meals for the week around food in your kitchen that is nearing expiration. Then, only fill in and purchase what is needed. Don’t toss vegetables that are beginning to wilt. Instead, incorporate them into sauce, pesto and broth to extend their use.
To avoid finding limp carrots at the bottom of the vegetable drawer, wash and chop vegetables right after a trip to the market and store in reusable glass containers. Since it is unlikely you will use the whole bunch of mint or basil at one time, break off some leaves and freeze in ice-cube trays to thaw and use later. Mint ice cubes also add a refreshing twist to your favorite smoothie or iced tea.
As an alternative to buying your produce at the market, where only perfect, shiny fruits and vegetables are on display, there are companies that help to reduce food waste by rescuing “ugly” produce that might otherwise be thrown away. Check out @MisfitsMarket or @ImperfectFoods to see which ones deliver imperfect organic produce in your area.
Clean and Green
Homemade cleaning solutions are an environmentally friendly way to keep your home sparkling. It can be as simple as ditching the paper towels and using a microfiber cloth or mixing water with baking soda (a natural deodorizer and mildly abrasive cleanser).
If you're feeling adventurous, try this homemade all-purpose cleaner for your kitchen or bathroom. Add all the ingredients to a 24-ounce reusable spray bottle and shake before use. Don't forget to label it !
- 3/4 cup hydrogen peroxide (natural antiseptic)
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar (great for removing stains and soap scum)
- 1 teaspoon unscented liquid Castile soap (made from a vegetable oil base, it is a vegan, cruelty-free and completely biodegradable super cleaner)
- 10 drops tea tree oil
- 20 drops lavender essential oil
- 2 cups water
PPB Tip: Add citrus peels to vinegar to make a simple chemical free all-purpose cleaner.
There are several environmentally friendly brands on the market that offer natural, plant-based and chemical free cleaning products. Some even minimize or eliminate the negative impact of plastics by using biodegradable, reusable, reduced, or recyclable packaging. We like @cleancult and @blueland.
Even if you have done your best to minimize food waste, there will still be some scraps headed for the garbage. Stop before you toss them! Stems, seeds and leaves can be added to broth for extra flavor and then used for soups or cooking liquid for rice or quinoa.
After you enjoy your favorite coffee beverage, up-cycle your coffee grounds! Turn them into mulch or sprinkle around your garden to protect from insects that love your prized plants as much as you do. You can also use coffee grounds as an abrasive cleanser on dishes, sinks, pans and grills. Just spread them around and scrub as usual. Be sure to rinse thoroughly!
When you have done all you can to reuse and repurpose, it's time to compost. You can add vegetable and fruit peels, tea bags, ground coffee and eggshells to your compost. By doing your part, you can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases produced by landfills. Your garden will thank you too!
With some dedication to conscious meal planning, creative food storage, and clever repurposing, we can all successfully incorporate habits into our lifestyle to reduce food waste, create a more sustainable home and have a positive impact on the environment.