Woman prepping vegetables

It doesn't take much to be greener in the kitchen. By making simple changes to your everyday routines, not only can you help save the planet, you might just save a little money, too.

It is easy being
green after all

These days, there is a lot of focus on being green and more sustainable, buying local, reusing and reducing waste. Even if you're not an extremist, there are many things you can do in your own kitchen to help lessen your impact on the environment. From the kinds of foods you buy to the products you use, following just one or two of these tips will help make a difference.

CSA produceFood choices

A good place to start being greener in the kitchen is by making smarter food choices. Making this change is not only good for the planet, but can be beneficial to your health. Next time you go out for groceries, opt for eco-friendly choices.

When you stock up for your morning omelets, consider buying cage-free eggs. These eggs are said to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids, have less saturated fat and more nutritional value with higher levels of vitamins A and E.

At the butcher counter, look for grass-fed meat. Grass-fed meat is free of antibiotics and other hormones, high in omega-3 fatty acids and less likely to be contaminated.

Learn more about grass-fed meat >>

Get out to your local farmers market! Not only does buying local help reduce your carbon footprint, this produce is picked when it's actually ripe, meaning you go home with quality food that you don't have to leave on the counter for a week while it ripens.

Find out how to select the best organic foods >>

Kitchen practices

Although some of these changes may mean a little extra work for you, the amount of waste you can eliminate makes it worthwhile.

Think about planting food in your own backyard. Even if you have a small space, there's always enough room for potted herbs, pepper plants and a small tomato plant. All you have to do is walk out your door… now that's a small carbon footprint!

If you do buy produce, skip the plastic bags. You're going to wash your fruits and veggies when you get home anyway, so a little contact with the grocery basket won't hurt.

Read how to get the most edible garden out of a small space >>

Most of us probably already have reusable bags to use in place of plastic, but how often do you forget them in your car? Buy a few bags that fold up into pouches and keep them in your purse. You'll always be ready for an unexpected shopping trip.

If you find yourself reaching for paper towels constantly, make the switch to washable kitchen towels or utilize that sponge more. This will eliminate a huge amount of waste from your garbage can.

Ditch the chemicals under your sink and opt for natural household cleaners instead. Common products like baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar can do the job just as well. They are also much safer and more eco-friendly than that blue window washing liquid.

Try these natural cleaners in your kitchen >>

Depending on the size of your family, your dishwasher may not fill up quickly. Wait until you have a full load to run the dishwasher and try running it on a faster cycle. Most dishwashers have a "light load" option that gets the dishes just as clean.

Check with your garbage company about a composting program. Some garbage companies now collect food scraps and yard waste in a separate bin for composting, which significantly cuts down on your garbage output. If you have your own garden, think about starting your own compost pile. Your plants will love you for it.

Read more about food items that will help your garden grow >>

More on being green in the kitchen

The ABCs of eco-friendly eating
3 Ways to conserve in the kitchen
Sustainable seafood for every day

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Comments

Comments on "Easy ways to go green in the kitchen"

Marilyn Noble May 31, 2012 | 2:11 PM

Thanks for the article. I wanted to mention a couple of statements that need clarification. First, cage-free, when it comes to eggs, only means that the hens are not confined in cages. They can still be raised in giant hen houses under crowded conditions. The label has nothing to do with their feed, so cage-free eggs may not be any healthier than regular eggs. Eggs from pasture-raised chickens, on the other hand, are usually healthier because the chickens eat a diet higher in naturally-occurring Omega-3s and other vitamins. The label grassfed on meat has nothing to do with antibiotics or hormones. The USDA says that in order to use the term grassfed, the meat must be from animals that eat nothing but grass or other forages. The animals can be confined and fed a wide variety of harvested forage, as well as antibiotics and growth hormones. The only way to know if you're getting truly grassfed meat is to look for American Grassfed Association certified meat. AGA standards don't allow confinement, antibiotics, or hormones, and the animals must be American born and raised. Animal Welfare Approved also certifies grassfed and pastured producers. Labels are confusing to most people, but if you search for the term and USDA definition, you'll find plenty of information on the USDA web site.

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