Every year when Earth Day comes around we start thinking about how we can do better for our planet. The conversation is often focused on things such as switching to renewable energy, getting an electric car, and refusing the plastic straws at Starbucks. And while those things are all great, sustainability can actually reach every corner of our home - including the kitchen! If you're looking to be more eco-conscious this year, here are 5 things you can do in the kitchen to reduce your carbon footprint:
1. Power to the plants!
The Problem: It's no secret that animal agriculture isn't great for our planet. Compared to plant-based options, animal-based products consume extreme amounts of water, contribute to 14.5% of the total GHG emissions, and require a lot of single-use plastic to package and ship out to stores.
The Solution: Adopting a fully plant-based diet isn't necessarily accessible or recommended for everyone, but even doing one meatless meal a week is a step in the right direction! Branch out and try plant-based alternatives like tofu and oat milk!
The Problem: Food waste is a big problem in the US. The average American wastes an estimated 238 lbs of food each year - not only is that expensive, but it's also bad for the planet! When food ends up in landfills it converts to methane gas, which is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
The Solution: Reduce your food waste by eating what you already have in your home, reuse food scraps you were going to throw away and turn them into a veggie stock, and recycle your food waste by composting it to give it a new life as a fertilizer!
The Problem: Excess packaging is an issue that sweeps far more than just food items, but luckily that is one place that we can really cut down! Buying in bulk not only reduces package waste, but you can also prep extra food and stick it in the freezer for later!
The Solution: If you have the option, buy things in bulk! If you know you eat a lot of rice, opt for the bigger bag that will last you longer. At a lot of grocery stores, you can also bring your own containers to fill up on dry goods in the bulk food section, which means you're not using any single-use packaging at all!
4. Skip the prepared foods
The Problem: Convenience often comes at a cost, and prepared food is no different. Not only are things like pre-chopped veggies and pre-packaged burgers more expensive to buy, but the single-use plastic that they are packaged in is costly for our planet.
The Solution: Skip the convenience of pre-cut produce and instead dedicate one hour to doing all the chopping! Spending an hour on Sunday dicing up your favorite fruits and vegetables will save you time throughout the week and help save our planet, too!
5. Go reusable
The Problem: Our kitchens are FILLED with single-use plastics like takeout utensils, grocery bags, ziptop bags, and water bottles - but they don't have to be! These days there are so many sustainable and reusable alternatives to use instead. They may be more expensive than the single-use options, but they pay off in the long run!