Simple Ways to Waste Less and Make a Big Difference
The #nowaste and #wasteless lifestyle is everywhere! And that’s a good thing…for us, for our children, and for our environment. These days, with big companies like Starbucks and Aramark ditching plastic straws, you might be wondering what you can do to join in and preserve our precious planet. And the answer is: plenty! (And it’s easy!)
My “going green” really took hold when I decided to get rid of all of the plastic containers in my kitchen. It probably sounds dramatic (especially if you’re accustomed to a drawer full of every size and color of Tupperware!), but it was simpler than you think – and it streamlined my meal prep and food storage. Now, instead of a bulky tangle of mismatched plastic pieces, I store everything in Mason jars, glass containers and non-plastic storage bags.
Just like rewriting your food story, “greening” your life is a process. And just like changing your mindset and eating habits, it works because you are aware that you want to change, not because you are suddenly perfect! As with any tiny change, one good turn leads to another. And even one small change is better than none at all!
Like so many things in my life, my evolution towards a more mindful, sustainable lifestyle began – where else? – in my kitchen. And yours can, too! You don’t have to be an environmentalist to make our planet a greener place to live. Start in the kitchen, and start small, and you may be amazed at how easy it is to make choices that are good for you and for the earth, too.
Here, a few of my favorite [green] tips and tricks to get you started…
Living “greener” isn’t just about taking on new practices and behaviors but reconsidering those you already do every day. Ask yourself, “Am I using every part of this vegetable/fruit/nut that I bought?” or “Can I swap this plastic bag/disposable straw/recyclable leftover container for something even more reusable?” You may find yourself stowing carrot tops for pesto and onion skins in a freezer bag for stock, or carrying a reusable shopping bag in your handbag, just in case.
No, I’m not talking about bringing your own bottle of wine or beer. This is even easier: the bottle you bring should be empty! Instead of purchasing plastic water bottles on a whim, choose a reusable bottle that you love and keep it close by. Whether you’re traveling and looking for some quick hydration, or simply reaching for it on your desk during the work day, you’re doing your part to reduce the 30 million bottles that land in landfills each day (!!!)
Reuse Your Empty Jars
Always purchase glass over plastic – and then, think about giving those jars a second life! Smoothies and overnight oats can be stored in your empty nut butter containers, while individual juice bottles make great vases or storage for homemade nut milk, lemonade, and green juice, too. Challenge yourself to find multiple uses for a single jar before tossing it into the recycle bin, and you’ll purchase and use fewer as a result.
Convert Your Extras
Did you know that one-third of the world’s produce goes uneaten? Using up all the parts of your fruits & veggies is a terrific way to make the most of your fresh foods, especially late in the summer when the farmers market is overflowing with gorgeous, colorful produce. Rather than tossing fruits and vegetables that are a day or two past their prime, consider repurposing them: make smoothies, then freeze them into popsicles; transform extra berries into chia jam; and simmer all those peak season tomatoes into a homemade sauce that you’ll reuse all winter long.
Try Meatless Mondays
You don’t have to be vegan – or even vegetarian – to experiment with plant-based meals. If everyone on the planet gave up meat just one day a week, we could…
- …save nearly 133 gallons of water – each. That’s the equivalent of 13 showers!
- …reduce greenhouse gas emissions – by the equivalent of 249 million fewer cars on the road each year!
- …preserve energy – the amount it takes to produce one ¼ pound of beef could power your iPhone for 6 months!
And best of all, what’s good for the earth is good for your health, too.
Reassess Your Buying Habits
It’s so easy to purchase on autopilot. Instead of rushing to buy an ingredient the minute you run out, see if you already have something in the kitchen that you can use instead! And when you are shopping, stop yourself before tossing it in the cart just because it looks interesting or is on sale. (Hello, impulse purchases!) By becoming conscious of what you really need, suddenly you realize you can get away with having – and buying – a lot less.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the ways that our choices impact the world around us. But if we begin somewhere familiar – the kitchen – we’re more aware (and more inspired!) to adopt a mindset of wasting less in all areas of our life. Remember, action inspires action… and every bit of effort makes our planet a greener place to live!
Now, it’s your turn: What are some of your favorite ways to reduce waste? Let’s inspire one another to care for our earth together by sharing our ideas in the comments!