One of the easiest ways to celebrate Earth Day every day is to green your kitchen. Here are some delicious and fun ways to reduce your family’s “foodprint” while also eating well.
- Bring your own bags wherever you shop. Try keeping a soft, collapsible bag in your pocketbook so you always have one handy.
- Reuse grocery store vegetable bags as liners for your kitchen compost pail. You’ll save money on composting supplies and give the bags and second life.
- Use recycled products. Choose from post-consumer recycled aluminum foil and paper products (napkins & paper towels), phosphate-free dish-washing liquid and dishwasher soap, and biodegradable garbage bags.
- Recycle #5 containers and cork at Whole Foods Markets instead of throwing them in the garbage. Whole Foods collects #5s and cork for recycling (feel free to pop in just to drop off your recycling). Recycling costs you nothing but is a huge gift to the environment.
Use reusable bags instead of single use plastic lunch and snack bags. There are many on the market and they have become so mainstream that they are now available at Linens ‘n Things.
- Use thermoses instead of buying water bottles. Ditto for kids’ single serve milk and juice boxes. Plastic water bottles are made from petroleum and are designed to be used once, resulting in a product that is thousands of times more expensive than tap water and no safer, according to a report by Food & Water Watch. Most of these bottles wind up in landfills where they take hundreds of years to break down and can leach harmful chemicals into the ground. Carry a stainless steel thermos instead.
- Compost your food waste. Food that’s thrown out instead of composted releases methane gas, contributing to global warming and climate change. Compost is a fantastic soil amendment and it costs you nothing, so you’re saving money in the end. Use an empty flour container, bowl or other receptacle to gather your food scraps in the kitchen (or a dedicated kitchen compost pail) and empty them regularly into your compost pile. Not sure how to compost? Visit Rodale’s web site for some immediate expert advice.
Grow some of your own food. Seeds are very inexpensive, and if you make your own compost, you’ll likely wind up saving money by growing your own. A fantastic source of inspiration and advice for home gardeners is Kitchen Gardeners International, the group behind the campaign to replant a kitchen garden at the White House. Comstock Ferre & Co., a 200-year-old seed company in Wethersfield, CT, offers a wide variety of heirloom seeds via their catalog or online store. Read more about Comstock here.
- Buy locally grown food from a farmers’ market or farm stand, CSA, or online ordering and delivery service. A complete list of Fairfield County farmers’ markets and farm stands can be found here, CSAs here, and home delivery services here.
- Choose locally produced food from specialty or grocery stores. The Double L Market in Westport, Palmer’s Market in Darien and The Pantry in Fairfield all carry some local food.
- Choose organic whenever possible to protect the environment and human health. There are over 40 certified organic farms in Connecticut, and many more that meet or exceed the National Organic Program’s (NOP) standards but do not carry the certification. That means a lot of choice for the consumer! Click here to read more about what the NOP standards mean as well as other eco farm and food labels.
- Choose organic and biodynamic wines. These so called “natural” wines rely on low impact methods for solving common problems that plague vineyards. For instance, birds of prey are brought in to control for varmints. Organic wines are cultivated without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides so they do not deplete the soil, damage the environment or pose threats to human health.
- Choose organic, Fair Trade coffee, chocolate and tea. Fair Trade means farmers are compensated fairly for their work, no child labor is used, and farms employ sustainable growing practices.
Choose sustainable seafood. Download the Sustainable Seafood Guide or iphone app from Seafood Watch and commit to limiting your consumption to sustainable seafood choices under the Best Choices and Good Alternatives categories. Whole Foods Markets stores have started using a seafood labeling system for their wild caught products based on Seafood Watch’s ratings to help the consumer at point of purchase. You can learn all about sustainable seafood in a fabulous new exhibit called Go Fish! at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. It’s perfect for adults and children.
Happy Earth Day 2011! Please add your suggestions for greening your kitchen under comments below. Looking forward to seeing you at Wilton Go Green’s Expo on May 1.