Start at the beginning. Where do you get the food you prepare? Maybe you grow or raise it yourself. That gives you the most control over what is put on and into your food. Maybe you buy a lot of goods at a farmer’s market. This is another good way to ensure that the food you’re using hasn’t had to travel very far from where it is grown. You also have the opportunity to speak directly with growers to find out what farming techniques they use. Maybe your only option is shopping at a local grocery store. You can still take some control over the sustainability of what you buy.
Look for products from local producers. As much as possible, buy produce that’s in season. Consider how goods are sold. Avoid purchasing items that have excessive plastic packaging and look for containers that are made from recycled materials. Some stores are moving toward a container system where you bring in your own or bring back previously purchased jars and bags to refill in the store. If this concept isn’t available in your area, speak to store managers to suggest it. You should also be cautious of bulk packaged items — if it’s perishable and can go bad, don’t risk the waste!
Once you get home with your groceries, consider whether your preparation techniques are as sustainable as is reasonably possible. One way to increase the eco-friendliness of your kitchen is to not eat meat for every meal, as it requires more resources to raise and process. If you eat meat daily, start by cutting out one day a week or by eating meatless lunches. Other ways to be eco-mindful in the kitchen are little things like:
- Making sure you don’t run too much water when washing produce or rinsing dishes.
- Don’t preheat your oven or stovetop too early.
- Broil instead of roast.
- Use slow cookers over stovetop methods when possible.
- Only cook as much as your household will eat, and if there are unused leftovers, freeze them for later.
Every year, billions of pounds of food are thrown away. It’s a burden for landfills and a shame for those who don’t have access to the food they need. Reducing these excessive numbers starts with each individual household. Buying and cooking only what you need is a good place to start, but what about other kinds of food waste? Perhaps instead of throwing away cores and stems from produce, you compost it. Composting is a fantastic way to repurpose much of your food waste and put it to great use in your own garden. You can compost fruit and vegetable waste, egg shells, coffee grounds, pizza boxes, noodles and more! If you regularly have extra prepared food, maybe you can do meal planning with a friend or neighbor to split up and share larger meals. You’ll cook only half as much and reduce waste at the same time. You can also team up with a local charity that allows food donations to help others in your community.
Whether you are already making strides toward a sustainable kitchen or you’re just getting started, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or inconvenient. Incorporate a few strategies at a time, and before long, you’ll be making a big difference for the planet.