Many people want to live more sustainable lives, but it can really overwhelming not knowing where to start. If you’re just starting out on your journey to a more sustainable life, hopefully this post can give you some concrete steps that you can start putting into place today. If you’ve been living a more sustainable life, maybe this can be a refresher course of sorts to help you make sure your kitchen is as sustainable as possible.
- Let’s start with something old school, reusing items in the kitchen. You probably remember grandma saving that old plastic butter tub and washing it time and time again. While it’s best to reduce the amount of packaging that your food comes in, sometimes it just can’t be avoided. Keep that packaging out of the landfills as much as possible! Plastic containers and glass jars can be washed and used to store leftovers. Metal cans can be washed and used to store items or made into fancy new crafts. If something can’t be reused for whatever reason, make sure it gets to the recycling bin! Check out this Pinterest board for more ideas on how to reuse common household items.
- Another thing to reuse in the kitchen is your junk mail! If you still get those weekly flyers from your local grocer, save them to trap grease when cooking. This saves you from using a disposable paper towel, and keeps that grease from clogging up your washer on your cloth towels.
- Speaking of paper towels, just stop buying them. Instead, use some “un-paper” towels, or simple cloth towels. These can be used for everything from kitchen spills to cleaning little faces after snack time. Here’s a great Etsy shop for all sorts of cloth alternatives to paper products!
Once you’ve used your not paper towel, wash and repeat. Keep a small basket in the kitchen for easy gathering of these reusable towels and toss them into the wash with your regular linens.
Save a little money and make your kitchen towels even more sustainable: Cut up old clothing to use as towels! We have a stack of wipes for little hands and faces cut from their old baby onsies and they’re the perfect size for washing little hands after meals.
- Don’t forget cloth napkins as well! These are not just for company, but are great for every day use. Some durable organic cotton cloth napkins are perfect for any table setting. I found this great tutorial on making your own cloth napkins if you feel like getting your seamstress on!
- Make your own cleaner with vinegar and lemon peels. While you can clean with diluted white vinegar, the smell is just appalling to many people. Stuff a jar full of lemon peels and fill it up with vinegar. Give it a good shake, put in the bottom of a cabinet, and forget about for a few weeks. When you drain the vinegar out, it will still have that awesome vinegar cleaning power, but without the vinegar smell. Here’s a great board with lots of different cleaning recipes and tricks for more natural cleaning.
- Invest in a steam mop. I love my steam mop! Shark Steam Pocket Mop (aff. link) A good steam mop might be costly, but it can keep your kitchen (and other hard) floors clean without having to use any chemicals. This is great if you have little crawlers, or maybe just a dog that likes to like the tile, as you won’t have to worry about what chemicals they might pick up. The heat is sufficient to kill any germs and it dries super fast too!
- This next tip isn’t just more sustainable, but it’ll save you tons of money! Store your food well. We’ve gotten so used to storing all of our food in the refrigerator in America, but that actually can cause some items to spoil faster. Some cute little baskets can be perfect for storing your produce on the counter top. Bonus- If fruits and veggies are out in plain sight, you and your children are more likely to chose a healthier snack when hunger strikes! Check out this board with tips on where and how to store produce to keep it fresher longer!
- Meal plan! Oh, I know, no one wants to meal plan. It’s tedious and not fun, and can get kinda boring, but having an effective meal plan can save you from ordering out on a whim or worse yet, letting good food go to waste. Too busy to meal plan? Check out this board with meals that go straight from your freezer to your slow cooker to your table!
- Shop your pantry first. You usually hear this as a means of saving money on the grocery budget, but it’s helpful in a sustainable life as well as a frugal one. By checking your pantry and freezer before you go shopping (and before making your meal plan), it allows you to use up what you already have before buying more. This prevents food spoilage and keeps you from bringing more into the house unnecessarily.
- When possible buy food that is local, organic, and grown on small scale farms. Trade with neighbors who have gardens and make friends with the farmers at your local market. Join a local backyard farming group and plan out your plantings with some friends. If everyone grows a little something different, you can trade with each other and everyone goes home with a variety of local, organic, yummy foods.
I hope that helps you get started making your kitchen a little bit more sustainable. Stick around for some more “advanced” ideas in the coming weeks!