Since the coronavirus pandemic hit about two years ago, people around the world have become more concerned about the devastating impact of climate change and how it affects the planet. Some studies show that about 75 percent of folks worldwide worry more today about the environment than they did in pre-pandemic times. Images of the Earth getting a welcome break from human activity during global lockdowns reminded everyone how fragile the planet is. Now, that activity has ramped back up to pre-pandemic levels. But that doesn’t mean awareness of the world’s delicate state has lessened.
In fact, more and more people are aware of how human activity jeopardizes the Earth, and that awareness is fuelling commitments to kitchen sustainability. And kitchen sustainability begins at home, right in your very own kitchen.
The Internet has plenty of excellent ideas on how to become more eco-friendly. One of the most important things you can do today is to make your lifestyle more sustainable – choose organically-made clothing, for example, and use less plastic. A primary place to achieve kitchen sustainability is not how much food do you buy, but how much food do you waste? In this post, we offer ways you can help the environment by reducing how much food you toss out, and we make other suggestions for achieving a truly sustainable kitchen.
Check due dates when you’re shopping and plan your meals
Many prepackaged foods come with a “best before” date. These labels ensure that the food you’re consuming is safe and bacteria-free. If you’re in the habit of putting food into containers when you bring it home, be sure to label it so you know how long it will stay fresh. You shouldn’t consume foods or liquids that exceed their “best before” dates, as you could risk your well-being. That’s how food poisoning can happen!
Keep your food stored correctly and label it – that way, you know when to use it up. Planning meals lets you determine exactly what you need on any given day, and writing up a shopping list helps save money and time. A recent study revealed that some shoppers waste several thousand dollars each year by purchasing food they didn’t need or use, and that’s a big waste for any household.
But just how does wasting food impact the environment? If it ends up in a landfill, it produces an enormous amount of methane – which is an even more destructive greenhouse gas than CO2. As you likely know, it’s greenhouse gasses like methane and chlorofluorocarbons that ultimately heat the Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in climate change and global warming.
Go through your fridge and pantry regularly and buy only what you need and will use. Impulse purchases are definitely not helpful to the environment, because often they get tossed out. Furthermore, commit to buying food that’s at its freshest, so it lasts, tastes great, and doesn’t pose any health risks to your family.
Store food properly and don’t buy too much
Throwing out food is bad for the environment – there is no denying that. Storing food correctly, like keeping fruits and vegetables in crisper drawers in the fridge and using them before they spoil – is the best way to ensure you’re using all the food in your fridge. However, there are safe ways to preserve foods, like meats and vegetables, for future use. For example: keep meat frozen until you need it. That way, if you buy a bulk amount because it’s on sale, none of it has to be tossed in the garbage.
Furthermore, some vegetables take well to being preserved – like cucumbers and cabbage that taste great when they’re pickled or peaches that last for ages if they are canned. Just make sure you know precisely how to preserve whatever food it is you’re keeping. Otherwise, you may find it goes off and causes your family intestinal distress of the worse kind!
There are several ways to preserve food. Canning, pickling, fermentation, drying, freeze-drying, curing, and freezing are some of the most commonly used methods, and all are part of the movement to kitchen sustainability. Keeping food cold in the fridge is probably the most common, and easiest way to preserve food. Fresh produce definitely needs to be stored in the fridge, but some foods (like a bag of potatoes or onions) can be kept in a cool pantry if you have one. That saves fridge space. For further details on what to keep refrigerated and what can be kept in other spots, check out our blog post: 10 Surprising Foods You Should – and Shouldn’t – Refrigerate
Drying, salting, and fermentation are terrific ways to make food last. Natural preservation methods aren’t expensive, and they ensure your food lasts a very long time. Some methods, like fermentation, have been done for centuries. Using natural products to preserve food prevents it from spoiling. If you’re interested in learning about natural preservation methods, check out of blog post: Make Food Last Longer: Top 7 Kitchen Ingredients to Preserve Foods
Try growing your own produce
Ideally, whatever food you have ends up on your dinner table. That’s the best scenario for everything you buy, but a lot of food is still getting thrown out and ending up in landfills. Certain things aren’t consumed, like fruit rinds and peels, but that doesn’t mean they have to be put in the garbage. They can be part of your shift to kitchen sustainability too.
Home composting is a terrific way to reduce waste. Almost any home can have a composter, and if you have a garden, you’ll love the dark, nutrient-rich material that composters provide. Your garden will thank you for making the effort! Compost is beneficial to all gardens, as it boosts soil nutrients and helps inhibit disease in plants. Your flowers and other plants will thrive once you start spreading compost in the garden.
Growing produce reduces your grocery bill and having a composter reduces waste. Both of these are hugely important for achieving a sustainable lifestyle and remaking your kitchen in an environmentally friendly way. Furthermore, increasing the amount of fresh produce you eat helps eliminate stress, reduces blood pressure, and even enhances your emotional well-being. What could be better than that?
You don’t need your own garden necessarily. Many communities have shared garden space, so check with local departments and find out where you can start growing your own little plot of land. Another bonus of growing your own food is that you bring home less packaging, which inevitably ends up in landfills. That’s another great way to shrink your carbon footprint and increase kitchen sustainability.
Once you’ve started your garden and composter, consider other environmentally friendly practices, like putting out a rain barrel. Everything you do that furthers your organic food consumption and lessens your carbon footprint is a boost to kitchen sustainability.
Make your groceries last with food storage containers
Glass jars and containers are the best way to store food. It is safe for the oven and microwave, and using these means you buy less plastic. Glass containers are durable, and they’re fully recyclable. It doesn’t break down, can be washed over and over again, and won’t shatter unless you smack it against a really hard surface.
Still, if you have young children you may be reluctant to use a lot of glass in your kitchen for storage, just because, under the right conditions, it can break. If that’s the case for you, consider buying acrylic containers instead. They are incredibly durable and strong, and won’t shatter like glass can.
If you want to know about glass and acrylic containers and which is best for you and your family, check out our blog post at: Acrylic vs Glass: Which Food Canister is Best?
Bacteria and other germs grow quickly in certain temperatures, so where you store your food is just as important as what kind of container you store it in. Food must be kept in dim or completely dark areas, like a pantry, out of light sources like sunshine. And the temperature at which you store is just as important – that’s why the fridge is perfect for so many foods. Certain foods change color and their flavor is negatively impacted if they’re not stored in cool temperatures. So be sure you know what food should be stored where, and at what temperature, before leaving it (for example) on a shelf in the pantry.
Kitchen sustainability is becoming increasingly vital to people everywhere around the world. The more attention we pay to it, and to reducing waste in our kitchens, the better care we take of our planet.
If you make even a few changes to how you purchase and store your food, you can make a big contribution to kitchen sustainability. That has a positive impact on the Earth today and will make a big difference for your children’s generation, and for many generations to come. We can all help the environment more by achieving kitchen sustainability, and it starts with reducing waste, shopping less, and growing our own food. Every positive change is a step in the right direction!