After switching the lights off for Earth Hour, we find ourselves in Earth Month heading towards Earth Day. Tis the season to be green. Personally, I think it’s great to dedicate a month to the awareness of the health of the planet. Having said that, given that we are in a climate crisis, we need to be prioritizing Mother Earth every day throughout the year. In other words, we should be celebrating Earth Day every day, but I digress.
Become a More Sustainable Home cook
Today, I want to explore green ideas we can work into our everyday routines. Little green habits that we can adopt into our lives will have a major impact on our carbon footprint. As gluten-free foodees, we may not be environmental experts but we know food and we know we are in a climate crisis so we appreciate learning Green Kitchen Habits to reduce waste and our impact. If you agree, we’ve put together a list of habits that will put you on the path of becoming a more sustainable home cook.
It’s Progress. Not Perfection.
Don’t feel you have to incorporate all of these habits at once. It’s progress, not perfection. Start with adopting as many as you reasonably can into your routine. If that is only 1 or 2 – then that is great. It’s progress. You might see it as a small change, but when done by the collective, it can have a great impact.
Green Kitchen Habits to Reduce Food Waste
Know your Inventory:
It’s important that you start with knowing what you have on hand. You want to use food before it reaches its best before date. Don’t buy extra or other options until what you have is running down.
- Review the inventory of your fridge(s) and freezer(s), and take an inventory of your basic pantry items and also any snacks or baking pantry items. You want to avoid buying more than you need to reduce waste.
- Keep an ongoing inventory of what you have on hand. You can print off our Pantry Inventory sheet to help get you started.
- Maintain “USE FIRST” areas in your pantry and fridge and freezers so the items with the shortest “use before” date get used first.
- If you keep your fridge/freezer inventory posted on OUTSIDE of the fridge or freezer, it will cut down on the time spent looking in the fridge or freezer with the door open (wasting extra energy).
- Store fruits and vegetables and dry goods properly to keep them fresh longer.
Once you know your inventory, you can start your menu planning for the next week or two-week period. This might seem like a waste of time but the benefits of menu planning are:
- You optimize the inventory you have on hand to avoid buying more than you need to reduce waste.
- You can take advantage of the best local, seasonal produce is currently available. Find out if there are any Community-Supported Agriculture Co-Ops or local Farmer’s Markets or if you are able to purchase directly from farmers in your area. Eating local as much as possible is important as the number of food miles has become a top eco-food consideration – the fewer miles from farm to table, the better it is for the planet.
- You can research online and find what is available in your area so you don’t have to make unnecessary trips.
- Food rescues are a great resource to get food that is perfectly good, but maybe not perfect enough for the grocery store. This helps keep all kinds of food out of landfills.
- Save money which helps those living gluten-free on a budget.
Keep In mind when menu planning:
- Eat less meat and dairy. I’m not saying you have to switch to a 100% plant-based diet but eating less meat and dairy is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. The meat and dairy industries are the largest contributors to greenhouse gases.
- Did you know that eating vegan one day per week is the equivalent of saving 4 months’ worth of showers? That’s just one person eating vegan one day.
- On average, the carbon footprint of a vegan is 50% less than that of a non-vegan.
- Check out our vegan recipes, vegetarian recipes, and dairy-free recipes.
Create Your Shopping List:
Now that you have done your inventory and your menu planning, you can create your shopping list. Think of the packaging of the items on your list and choose the option that represents the least amount of packaging. For example:
- Avoid processed food whenever possible. Choose unprocessed (or minimally processed) whole food items.
- Highly processed foods not only contain extra packaging but they also sometimes contain ingredients that are harmful to the environment (and your health).
- If you can, make your own. For example, the impact of buying whole apples is far less than purchasing individual containers of applesauce.
Use Reusable Shopping Bags:
A single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.
Tips to Waste Less:
The kitchen generates the most waste in any home on average but we can cut that back using the following tips:
- We will say it again, avoid buying more than you need.
- Refuse excessive packaging by taking your own reusable bags and wrappings to the store.
- When buying items in jars or containers, think of how you can reuse or presuppose them.
- Freeze or preserve extra food items you may have.
- Eat all leftovers. It helps reduce food waste and helps you save time and money. Also, reheating a meal requires less energy than cooking one from scratch. Plus, things like soups and stews are always better the next day.
- Compost any uncooked organic waste (including paper products). If they don’t process compost in your area, see if there are any local farmer’s markets that will accept it. Store your compost in the fridge or freezer to avoid odours and insects before taking it to your local farmer’s market, community garden or other composting sites.
- Recycle any and all packaging possible.
That’s our Green Kitchen Habits to Reduce Food Waste for Earth Month and Beyond. As gluten-free foodees, we are used to looking out for our own health. We can easily start including Mother Earth in there (if we haven’t already). Start by calculating your carbon footprint here. Find out what habits are negatively impacting the earth the most.
How many of these green habits do you already incorporate or plan on incorporating? Let us know in the comments.
Happy Earth Month my fellow GGFF’s (Green Gluten-Free Foodees)