The kitchen is full of delicious things that come from the earth, but it can also be a contributor to carbon emissions and climate change.
With a few easy changes, though, you can reduce your eco-footprint in the kitchen and thank Mother Nature for your edible bounty.
To continue our 50 Ways in 50 Days countdown to Earth Day (April 22, 2020 marks the holiday’s 50th anniversary), these are a few tips to be more environmentally friendly with your kitchen habits.
Eat less (or different) meat
Beef and lamb account for huge proportions of greenhouse gases produced by agribusiness, so reducing your consumption can have a clear impact on the global environment. Pork, chicken and fish contribute as well, but to a much lesser extent. Still, a diet based on vegetables, nuts, rice, and beans will naturally hurt the planet less.
Fix up your fridge
Refrigerators run 24/7, making them prime suspects for excess energy consumption. Clean the coils to help the fridge run more efficiently, make sure you stock it well, and test the temperature at different spots to help store food in ideal conditions and avoid food waste.
Waste not, want not
Speaking of food waste, reducing garbage and overconsumption can help the planet too. Don’t buy more food than you need for a week to avoid some of it going bad, and reduce portion sizes to make sure you can finish all your food. Throwing out food wastes the energy and resources that went into producing it.
Reuse and compost
You won’t be able to eliminate food waste entirely. Vegetable scraps and used coffee grounds can go into a compost bin to revitalize a home vegetable garden. Bones and meat scraps can go into the freezer to be made into stock. Some used frying oil can be reused too.
Grow what you can
An herb garden in a window box doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but every little bit helps. Small-scale produce doesn’t add much CO2 to the atmosphere, but transporting those herbs to market does. Eliminate transportation entirely by growing herbs within arms’ reach of your kitchen.
Shop with reusable bags
Bring totes to the grocery store to avoid using plastic bags. Then take things a step further by bringing containers for goods from bulk bins and eco-friendly produce bags. Skip plastic bags altogether for bulky produce you’ll wash at home anyway. Your carrots and sweet potatoes will be fine just chucked into a tote.
Unplug rarely used appliances
You probably don’t use your toaster oven, coffee grinder, or stand mixer every day. These devices suck power even when they’re turned off, so be sure to unplug anything that you’re not actively using.
Rearrange kitchen appliances
If you have the chance to rearrange your kitchen in a big way, move the fridge out of the sun. Keeping fridges and freezers away from warm spots will reduce the amount of work they need to do to keep food chilled, reducing their electricity usage, and ultimately lowering their impact on the environment.