So if I were to take a poll of all of you out there – how many of you love taking the trash out? I’d be confident in saying nobody really enjoys lugging a big bag of garbage out every few days. Aside from the annoyance of dealing with an overflowing kitchen trash can there are also other reasons that less waste in the kitchen is a plus. One of the biggest reasons is to minimize your ecological footprint and help do your part to keep trash out of the landfill. Another reason is to save yourself time and energy emptying that can all the time.
Most of the ways you can minimize waste in the kitchen are through your shopping habits. Some of it however involves what you bring with you to go shopping.
- Buy bulk foods, such as dry goods (pasta, rice, etc.) and spices from your grocery store and take reusable containers with you to put it in. There will be a scale for you to weigh your container before you fill it and weigh it again so you’re only charged for what you’re buying.
- Buy meat and cheese from the deli department instead of going for the pre-packaged options in styrofoam trays and covered in plastic.
- Purchase more fresh fruits and veggies from the produce department or from a local farmers market. This means you may have to cook meals and freeze them if things are going out of date too quickly. But those meals will come in handy later when you need a quick food fix.
- Switch to reusable cleaning supplies like washable dish cloths or products like Norwex. I’m not necessarily a Norwex advocate, but it is an option if you want to get some reusable supplies that also eliminate harsh cleaning products.
- Take your reusable shopping bags with you to the grocery store and opt out of plastic bags.
- Size your trash can down to help encourage you to not waste! If you have a smaller trash can, you may remember to choose less wasteful products
Eating healthily these days seems overly complicated – there are so many choices. Organic, Non-GMO, farm-raised, and so forth. And while eating foods with these labels is good for you, it’s hard on your wallet. Some items are worth the extra cost, though. Buying produce grown organically means the growing methods are almost completely free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and are non-GMO. The USDA has a strict compliance guide for growers of organic produce to follow which is listed on their website here.
Certain fruits and vegetables are more heavily treated with pesticides than others or retain the chemicals even after washing, which when ingested can have negative effects on your health. Other items however are less treated or don’t absorb as many of the chemicals and there is not a significant difference between buying the regular and the organic.
According to www.organic.org, the most highly contaminated produce items are as follows:
- Bell Peppers
- Grapes (imported)
The following are less contaminated and therefore less harmful to just buy the regular mass-produced variety if you are on a budget:
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas
Keep in mind there is some controversy surrounding the organic food trend due to the USDA’s definition of “organic” and what some people might like to believe it is. According to the Washington Post, growers are only required to have 95% organic ingredients to be qualified as organic. There are 200 plus types of non-organic additives that can be used in foods while still maintaining the title, so some of that could be pesticides used on produce. It’s good to do a little research into what you’re buying before you go grocery shopping if you want to be informed on what you’re eating and how it can affect your health.
With Earth Day approaching and spring in full bloom, it’s easy to think about our planet and the state of our environment. How we live day to day in a global population of 7 billion has a dramatic effect on earth. However, dramatic change can happen with small changes made even in just your apartment. Simply adjusting home habits can significantly reduce waste and help you live a little greener.
Here are two small ways to seriously reduce waste in your apartment’s kitchen:
Opt for washable dish cloths instead of sponges
Sponges have a limited life and have to be replaced every couple weeks, or more often. Unless you’re using a natural sea sponge, they’re not made out of a biodegradable material and just become more trash in a landfill. If you threw out a sponge every two weeks for a year, that’s about 26 sponges you’re tossing each year. What I’ve done recently is bought a couple washable microfiber dish cloths with a soft side and a scrubby side. They still clean really well and after a week you can toss them in the wash with your other laundry and reuse them. The ones I got are inexpensive from Target and are well worth it.
Reusable bamboo paper towels
I’m not a big tv person, so I’m usually pretty out of the loop on the current cable shows. But thankfully the internet exists and I can at least absorb the gist of it without watching hours of television. What I’m getting at is that apparently Bambooee Towels were one of the products on Shark Tank recently and also apparently they’re pretty awesome. I read a detailed review on the bamboo paper towels, which come in a perforated roll just like regular paper towels, but are much more absorbent, durable, and they can be washed. The Bambooee company claims that one roll of their bamboo towels can replace 286 traditional paper towel rolls. That’s quite an improvement!
Being mindful of how we treat our environment and keeping up with tasks like recycling are a part of daily life now. Information about how to keep our planet cleaner is more readily available these days and recycling facilities are more accessible. Aside from that, though, there are additional ways to create less trash that will end up in a landfill for years.
With a little planning, you can make less of a mess for yourself and spend less time taking out the trash from your apartment. Think ahead before buying groceries and homegoods at the store:
- Avoid buying products with excess packaging When it comes to groceries, shopping in the bulk foods section can help eliminate excess plastic and paper packaging. Buying items in bulk otherwise or buying fresh veggies, like at a farmer’s market, instead of packaged frozen ones helps you make less trash.
- Pack your own bags to go shopping I can’t think of how many times I could kick myself for not bringing my own bags to the grocery store and end up with a mountain of plastic bags instead. Not only does packing your own bags help eliminate this problem but many grocery stores also have recycling collection points for your used plastic grocery bags.
- Avoid buying products in non-biodegradable packaging Materials like styrofoam or non-recyclable plastic will inevitably linger in a landfill longer than others. Avoiding these items will help you create less trash and help lessen your environmental impact.
From frying chicken for dinner to preparing a bacon breakfast, grease stains are almost impossible to avoid. However, no matter how delicious these fried goods are, grease stains are not fun at all and they are a pain to clean. Here are some ways to wave goodbye to those nasty grease stains using vinegar or baking soda.
Pour some undiluted vinegar into a small spray bottle and spray it directly on the grease spots. Don’t be afraid to spray generously! Leave the vinegar for 5 to 10 minutes and then wipe it off with a dishcloth. Viola! The grease is gone!
As you know, baking soda is one of your best friends when it comes to natural cleaning products, and the case is no different here. To get rid of stains on your surfaces, sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and scrub the surfaces. Afterwards, take a clean, damp sponge to remove any excess powder.
Another tip, if you happen to get grease on your clothes, sprinkle, a generous amount of baking soda on the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes. The baking soda should soak up the grease!
You don’t have to go to the store and buy Febreeze and Glade for your house to smell good. There are other ways to have your home smelling fresh, naturally, in no time.
-Get a spray bottle and put about 4 ounces of water in it as well as 10-15 drops of essential oil. Lavender is a great choice because of its calming properties. Not only will your place smell good, it will also help you relax.
-You can also use the essential oil by dipping a cotton swab in it and leaving the cotton swab in the smellier places of your home like the kitchen or bathroom for a constant hint of freshness.
-Put a small dab of vanilla extract on a lamp light bulb and while the lamp is on, it will heat up the vanilla and make your house smell delicious.
-Run lemon, lime, or orange peels through the garbage disposal to have your home smelling as sweet as summer all year round!
Being green is not just good for the environment, but it is also good for your wallet. Little things that you can do in just seconds everyday can help save you a bit of cash on that water or electricity bill every month.
– Ever wonder why your clothes take so long to dry? Maybe that lint filter is full of junk. Cleaning out the lint filter every time you dry your clothes, allows the dryer to work more efficiently and not use as much energy.
-Don’t use the toilet as a trash can. Don’t throw a tissue you used to blow your nose or wipe down the bathroom counter into the toilet and flush. That is wasting 1.8 gallons of water. Only flush after you have used the toilet to do your business.
-Using a lid when cooking allows the food to warm up faster, and thus, helps you save on electricity.
-Just because your game console, laptop, or other electrical devices are not in use, if they are plugged in, they are using electricity. So, if you are not using them just unplug them to save a bit on that electricity bill.
Many people consider their shower time to be their “me” time. A time for solitude, quiet (well at least nothing more than the steady flow of the water and maybe your own singing), and time to think. However, letting that water run while you have all that “me” time is a waste of water and will add up on your water bill every month. Instead of taking that 30-minute shower, try cutting that time in half and take a 15 minute shower. Ensure that you take a 15-minute shower by getting yourself a shower timer that forces you to recognize how much time you are spending in the shower. Your water bill will be looking a lot sweeter once you do so.