How to Be More Green in the Kitchen

I’ve been meaning to write this article for some time now. Having lived with other people and seen their habits around the kitchen, I’ve noticed how much waste is created, and how necessary it is to have quality tools and products to make food and clean up. Here, I’ve compiled a list of things that would make cooking, meal prep, and cleaning more eco-friendly. Let’s get into it.

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Avoid tea bags and Keurig cups

Believe it or not, tea bags and Keurig cups are not very eco-friendly. Tea bags are often made in non-biodegradable materials and are not recyclable, and come in a waxy paper casing that also gets thrown away. This is wasteful and unnecessary. Buy your tea loose leaf and get one of those cute tea strainers. It makes the whole tea drinking process more fun and gets rid of that waste.

My small loose leaf tea collection

Same goes for Keurig cups- while they are technically compostable and recyclable, not every city and town will adhere to that. Instead, use ground coffee and a reusable cotton or hemp coffee filter. This will not only reduce waste, but changes are, your coffee will taste fresher, too.

Use a compost bin

What do you do with those used tea leaves and ground coffee? You compost. What do you do with that uneaten, rapidly deteriorating banana? You compost it. Composting really doesn’t need to be a whole big project- I know this first-hand because my parents have a compost bin right in their kitchen. It’s tiny and actually cute, because it looks like a plant in a ceramic pot- here’s the listing if you are interested.

Composting is like hitting two birds with one stone because you are preventing food from ending up in a landfill, and you are also making fertilizer for a potential garden or farmland. Don’t have a garden? That’s just fine, too- give the compost to a friend or just dump it on a stray flower bed when you’re walking your dog.

Things you can compost include spoiled fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, nut shells, shredded newspaper and printer paper, and even cardboard. You might want to avoid composting spoiled meat and dairy products. Of course, I encourage you to do your research on this matter, as well.

Use beeswax wrapping cloth

Lately, I’ve been seeing beeswax cloth advertisements everywhere, and I’ve got to say, some of the products look really cute. Instead of using cling or Seram wrap or even a Ziploc bag, you can use something reusable and totally washable like beeswax cloth!

Beeswax cloth I got for my mom

Simple enough: this cloth is coated in a layer of wax that allows it to mold to things and keep its shape. That way, there’s minimal contact with oxygen and optimal space for storage. Best part is, it is completely washable and biodegradable! Plus, it’s pretty cheap. Plus plus, the versatility of beeswax cloths is bountiful and you can get ones that match your vibe, or aesthetic. Here’s a link to one of the variety pack listings with the cutest designs.

Meal prep

Meal prepping is so important in order to have a more green kitchen- and here’s why: if you don’t organize your fridge and pantry, odds are, you are going to forget about some items you have and they will ultimately go bad, thus resulting in food waste (unless you have that compost box we discussed earlier). If you meal prep and keep a list of things you have and need for particular meals, the amount of food that goes unnoticed will decrease by a lot.

Meal prep boxes. Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

Meal prep doesn’t have to be complicated- what I do is jot down things I need for a meal or two, and shop frequently, that way, I don’t have a colossal list of things I need to buy at one time. Another thing that helps is overlapping ingredients- what I mean when I say this is that by buying ingredients that will be used for two or more meals, you are more likely to use that ingredient and it will sit in your fridge for a shorter time, so it won’t have time to spoil.

Buy unpackaged goods

This includes fruit and produce that hasn’t been cut up and put into plastic containers. It also includes those foods in the clear cylinders you see in certain stores. Oats, barley, rice, legumes, nuts, and even coffee beans can be bought in bulk without it being in a plastic container- of course, you have to package it somehow, and the best way to do that would be to use a reusable silicone, plastic, or glass container from home.

As someone who has worked in four grocery stores, I can tell you that a LOT of plastic is used to hold our food. It’s unnerving and upsetting, so knowing that there’s a way to reduce some of that is a welcome relief.

Bring your own bags when shopping

This is obvious- when you checkout at a grocery store, odds are that you’ll need a bag to carry it home. Using three or four plastic bags may not seem like a lot, but when you do it weekly, it not daily, it is no longer just three or four bags.

Reusable grocery bags. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Getting paper bags is really no better because they still have chemicals that make them hard to biodegrade, and they cost trees to make. So when you get the chance, get a burlap or cotton tote and make the planet a bit happier. Here’s a link to some really cute, really floral bags that can support up to 26 pounds.

Eat out less

I know so many people who order DoorDash every other day instead of making food for themselves. First of all, are you made of money? Getting food delivered to you is extremely expensive and so is eating out. Even if you have the money for it, you should avoid eating out and ordering food because of the sheer amount of plastic and paper required to get it to you.

Since COVID happened, there has been an influx of food deliveries and restaurants have adapted, using an obscene amount of Styrofoam and plastic containers daily. Now that things are more or less back to normal, that doesn’t need to be the norm anymore.

Blueberry crepes with a fruit smoothie… mmm.

Sure, eating out every once in a while can be fun, and should be done to give life a bit of color, but doing it every week or even every day is wasting your money and plastic. Let’s try to do better and convert back to the olden days of cooking our own food, even it it’s soup from a tin can.

Final thoughts

The kitchen plays a vital role in many people’s daily lives, and having the right habits has the power to do insurmountable good. Even if it’s as small as reducing how many Keurig pods you use, it’s still a change in the right direction.

Bottom line is that there are ways to go green that won’t break the bank and don’t need to be hard to do. I’m sure there are other ways of being more eco-conscious in the kitchen, and if there are, please feel free to drop a comment below. Thank you for reading and, until next time, stay fresh.

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