Go green in the kitchen
If you want to switch to a greener lifestyle, start in the kitchen. From paper products to produce, the kitchen is filled with opportunities to reduce your family's waste and reduce energy consumption. Here are 10 simple swaps to help you green your kitchen.
Swap paper towels for cloth.
You'll be surprised at how easy it is kick the paper towel habit. Stock up on super-absorbent, fast-drying cloths like Trader Joe's Amazing Kitchen Cloths. They don't get stinky like sponges, and you can toss them in the laundry to reuse again and again. If you want to take your greening to the next level, replace your paper napkins with reusable cotton napkins.
Swap plastic baggies for reusable cloth sacks.
With all the fun and funky designs now available, no planet-loving lunch packer should still be using plastic zip-top bags. Check out the huge selection of sandwich and snack sacks at snacktaxi.com or lunchskins.com.
swap store-bought herbs for homegrown.
Why buy packaged herbs at the grocery store when you can grow your own on your kitchen countertop or windowsill? You'll love having fresh herbs within reach, and since you pick only what you need, there won't be any waste.
Swap store-bought cleaners for natural or home-made cleaners.
If you cringe at the thought of making a sandwich on the countertops you just cleaned, consider swapping chemical-based cleaners for brands that use natural ingredients -- or make your own. With a few basic ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, borax and castile soap, you can make your own all-purpose cleaner, creamy soft scrub and drain opener.
Swap regular light bulbs for CFL.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs are good for the environment and your wallet. CFLs last eight to 10 times longer, use about 75 percent less energy, and produce 90 percent less heat than their conventional counterparts. They cost more to purchase but save money in the long run, because you won't need to replace them as frequently.
Swap bottled water for filtered water.
According to Food and Water Watch, the production and transportation of plastic bottled water in the United States used the energy equivalent of 32 and 54 million barrels of oil in 2007, respectively. Even worse, 75 percent of these plastic bottles end up polluting our landfills, lakes and oceans. Green your kitchen with a faucet filter or pitcher filter, and drink clean pure water without the waste.
Swap tossed kitchen scraps for composting.
Instead of tossing coffee grounds, banana peels and egg shells in the garbage, start a compost bin. Collect kitchen scraps in a countertop bin, then empty into an outdoor compost container to which you'll add leaves and other brown waste. Churn your compost regularly, and use the resulting mix to nourish your garden.
Swap old appliances for energy-efficient models.
If you're in the market for a new kitchen appliance, look for a refrigerator or dishwasher with the Energy Star label. This stamp of approval represents a quality appliance that uses energy efficiently, so you'll save some green while going green.
Swap overly packaged goods for bulk buys.
Instead of filling your grocery cart with single-serve yogurts, oatmeal packets and other products with excess packaging, buy in bulk. Bring your reusable containers with you and fill up for less. For practical tips on bulk-buying and other waste-free swaps, check out this video about the Zero Waste Home -- literally, a family who produces no garbage.
Swap grocery store produce for Farmer's Market or CSA.
It's no surprise the produce at your grocery store looks a little sad. You would, too, if you had been trucked hundreds of miles or flown halfway around the world to get on the shelf. Support your local farmers and stock your kitchen with fresh produce from the farmer's market. Sign up for a CSA and get a share of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables every week.