There are so many things you can do to “go green” at home that sometimes it feels overwhelming. I’m sharing just 5 sustainable swaps I’ve made in my kitchen — my favorite part of the house!
There are a 100+ things you can do to “go green” at home. Sometimes I feel bad for not doing them all, but we should all be striving for progress not perfection. Do the best you can to make sustainable choices dependent on your environment, time, resources, etc. For example, if you live in a high rise in NYC, having a compost bin may not be at the top of your list (unless your building has a compost system in place!), but you can use reusable cloths instead of paper towels.
That said, I know just how important it is for the wellness of our planet to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Whether that’s using clean beauty products in recyclable packing, reusing bags or using cloth bags instead of wrapping gifts, running errands on foot, or giving a tub full of too-small kids clothing to a friend as hand-me-downs, these are just a few of the ways I do my part to live a more sustainable life.
But, today, I want to talk about sustainability just in the kitchen. Here are just a handful of ways that we’ve made a few small changes that add up. Bonus: going green usually saves you money too!
5 Sustainable Swaps I’ve Made In My Kitchen
1. Cloth or Paper Snack Bags
While using a washable container or Lunchskins bag is ideal sometimes you need something disposable or super lightweight. Instead of plastic baggies (because we all know how much plastic and trash winds up in our ocean), we use paper snack bags (like these). There are so many reusable food bag options out there, so if paper isn’t for you, there are cloth/velcro ones, silicon ones like the popular StasherBag, and of course endless glass Tupperware choices. If you’re able to cut out or minimize your plastic bag usage, that’s a huge start! (Plus it saves money!) We do use a gallon zip lock from time to time, but only when nothing else will really fit the bill.
2. Gardening (A Little) At Home
Herbs, greens, and tomatoes is all we really have good luck with – but hey, it’s better than nothing! Not only does it save us a few dollars (or more) during the summer months, but it means we are growing organic produce (and limiting pesticides/toxins) and minimizing our carbon footprint. We’re hoping to get the boys out there in the dirt this spring, and I have plans for a little herb collection on the new porch. If you don’t have your own space for a garden, community gardens are popping up in towns everywhere.
Gardening and composting often go hand in hand, but not necessarily. I tried a countertop compost years ago, and while I applaud anyone who does that, it was just a little too gross for me to have inside. In this house we have a big compost pile between our house and the neighbor’s house that our neighbor maintains and so generously shares with us. We don’t put every eggshell in there, but if I have a bowl’s worth of veggie scraps or a bunch of watermelon rinds, I send Mazen out to dump it. (He thinks it’s cool because it’s gross.) Another option we have here is companies who come to your house to pick up your compost. Black Bear Composting here in town is one that some of our other neighbors use.
4. Bento Lunch Boxes
Instead of using disposable containers I pack Mazen’s lunch in a bento. Not only does it keep his meals less of a mess, but it means I can avoid brown paper and plastic bags — there’s almost no need for single-use baggies because this box keeps everything neat and tidy. He picked out this one because it fits perfectly inside a cloth lunch bag, but there are some great stainless steel options available, too.
I just created a handy download with 75+ kids lunchbox ideas! Download it here!
5. Minimizing Paper Towels
We use washable cloths and napkins for cleaning counters and wiping hands, and try to save paper towels for bigger spills and messes. While I think the idea of going totally paper towel free is the best option, we’ve been using the Who Gives a Crap recycled paper towels to vote with our dollars. I will admit they aren’t quite as heavy duty as Bounty, I do think they’re a good compromise between all washable and using too many conventional paper towels. The more single-use items in your kitchen you can avoid (plastic water bottles, plastic bags, paper napkins, paper plates), the better!