Going green is getting easier and easier. But if you’re just starting out, it can seem a little overwhelming. Rather than trying to make a whole lifestyle switch, start small, making one little change at a time and repeating it until it becomes habit. A great place to begin is in the kitchen, there are lots of little changes to be made there. Where to start? How about any one (or two) of these ideas.
Retrain your brain
What’s stopping you from adopting that new, green habit? Sit down and think about it, then brainstorm potential solutions. Take paper towels… “Ew, some things are just too gross, I don’t want to wash the cloth out!” Solution? Keep a supply of really cheap rags (like old tee-shirts) and keep a covered hamper in the kitchen or bath. It’s an easy job to do a quick load of just the “icky” stuff. Not ready to go cold turkey on paper? Keep a roll of recycled paper towels in the deep, dark reaches of a cabinet – that way they’re not too easy to reach, but there if you really need them.
Find locally-produced organic foods and make the shopping trip fun. Local Harvest will help you find farmer’s markets, coops and roadside stands in your area. Too expensive to go all organic? Start by just replacing the “Dirty Dozen” with organic options, and then switch to locally-grown fruits and vegetables – even if they’re not organic, they have traveled fewer miles from farm to table.
Ditch the bottle
One of the fastest ways to reduce your footprint is to give up bottled water. Most of us don’t realize how many plastic bottles we go through. It’s an easy fix – get a filter, either installed on your sink, on your ‘fridge dispenser or use a pitcher (or all of the above). Invest in reusable bottles to make it just as portable.
Phase out plastics
Next time you need to get food storage containers, opt for glass, metal or plastic containers made from recycled materials.
Switch to non-toxic cleaners. Most household messes don’t require heavy-duty cleaners. Swap out the caustic chemicals for more natural options – your home will be just as clean, and you won’t be breathing nasty fumes and pouring toxic soup down the drain.
Replace paper napkins with cloth ones, at every meal. If you have little ones, invest in sets of inexpensive cloth napkins and use dark colors or wild prints to hide stains. Otherwise, have fun and get pretty colors that match your décor to make it even nicer to use.
There’s some controversy over the safety of non-stick cookware. When your old pots and pans need replacing, opt for stainless steel, enameled or cast iron pans. A properly seasoned cast iron pan is an almost magic non-stick surface and will last for generations.
This one requires some thought, but start looking at the way items you purchase are packaged, and figure out ways to reduce the stuff you throw away. Buy from the bulk bins – a pantry full of glass jars filled with grains and beans is pretty. Purchase larger containers. Buy refillable items.
Throw away less
Take up composting, if you don’t have a yard, find a community garden or group that composts and bring your weekly waste to them. Composting is easier than you think and it’s amazingly green, keeping food waste out of the landfill and producing rich organic material for your yard.
It doesn’t matter if you have a huge yard, or no space at all, you can grow something green for yourself, even if it’s just sprouts on your kitchen counter. You’ll be purchasing less, and reaping the benefits of truly fresh, organic produce right at your fingertips! It doesn’t have to be a big garden to make a big difference.