Farmers’ markets are back in season around the country, making this a good time to look at more environmentally friendly eating (and drinking) options. Here are five easy ways to green up your kitchen:
Eat locally. Buying your food locally helps the environment. A study in Iowa found that by eating locally, one consumes 17 times less oil and gas than a typical diet with food shipped across the nation. Eating locally doesn’t restrict you to your own kitchen, either. Many restaurants, such as Chipotle, are making an effort to use more local ingredients—some exclusively so.
Buy food in bulk. Buying food in bulk helps reduce the use of packaging, which cuts down on waste and strain on the environment. You can also reduce waste by putting bulk items in reusable containers. And it’s better for your wallet, too. Buying in bulk also reduces the number of trips you have to take to the store, which in turn decreases the toxic emissions from your car, truck, or SUV.
Use reusable bags. We’re all used to hearing “paper or plastic” at the grocery store checkout counter. The best response, however, is “neither.” Plastic products decompose very slowly and endanger sea life, and almost 4 billion trees are cut down every year to serve the paper industry. Reusable shopping bags are a much better alternative, and some stores such as Target and Whole Foods Market even offer discounts to customers using these bags. If you want to get fancy you can even make your own bag.
Store your leftovers in glass containers. That’s right, throw out the Tupperware and all those other plastic containers in your kitchen. Glass is a better choice for storing your leftovers. For one, glass is recyclable and all natural, unlike many plastics. Second, storing food in plastic has potential health hazards that you won’t have to worry about by using glass.
Purify your tap water. Many people love to drink bottled water, but it’s not very environmentally friendly. Bottled water results in up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste annually, and it also takes up to 47 million gallons of oil to make the plastic every year. Also, it’s much cheaper to filter your tap water than it is to buy bottled water on a regular basis, and you can always store it in stainless steel bottles or glass containers when you need your water on the go.