Bella Outdoors,  Featured

Kitchen Swaps for Big Impact

Five easy swaps to transform your kitchen into a planet saving sanctuary.

Written by Beth Deel

In America, our kitchens are one of the biggest waste-producing rooms in our homes and one of the easiest areas to make simple, environment-friendly swaps with BIG impact. With spring in full swing why not turn May into a fun month-long challenge that will benefit you, your home and the planet! You will not only save money but you will reduce your overall household waste stream and enjoy fun, new habits! 

Swap Plastic Food Storage for Glass 

But glass is breakable you say? Yes, glass breaks more rarely than you think and is way more eco-concious, versatile and SAFE. This is an incremental swap. You don’t need to throw out all of your plastic food storage for glass, but as you purchase foods sold in glass jars, save them. You can also find a treasure trove of glass items at your local thrift store and yard sales. 

The benefits of using glass containers are numerous. Here are just a few: glass does not contain harmful BPA {Bisphenol A} that are present in many plastics; glass does not retain food smells or stains; you can easily freeze food in glass containers; all glass is safe for reheating and glass has a terrific use-lifespan. 

Swap Single Use Grocery Bags for Re-usable 

If you haven’t jumped on the re-usable bag wagon yet, what are you waiting for? This is THE easiest swap of all and has exponential enviromental impact. Swap all plastic/paper grocery and produce bags for reusable bags. Even better, shop at local markets for seasonal produce, meats and dairy whenever possible, you will be supporting your local economy, local farmers and purchasing way less packaged foods by doing so. 

Here are a couple facts from resusethisbag.com to inspire your choice to always bring your reusable bags shopping: 

• Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, but they can break down through photo degradation. When photo degradation (decomposition through exposure to light) happens, the bag breaks down into small, toxic particles. 

• An estimated one million birds, 100,000 turtles, and countless other sea animals die each year from ingesting plastic. The animals confuse floating bags and plastic particles for edible sea life such as jellyfish and plankton. Once ingested, the plastic blocks the digestive tract and the animals starve to death. Other animals drown after becoming entangled in plastic waste. 

• It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic bags that the U.S. uses every year. 

• One person using reusable bags over their lifetime would remove more than 22,000 plastic bags from the environment. 

Swap Paper Towels for Cloth 

Swapping one-use paper products in your kitchen for re-usable cloth alternatives is easy, money-saving and convenient. Many of us use paper towels, paper napkins and wipes everyday in our kitchens. By swapping to cloth we are saving trees, trash from landfills and eliminating yet another one use item from our lives. Being prepared is the key to this swap. Invest in enough microfiber towels, huck towels and cloth napkins. Pro tip is have more than you think you need with a basket for each type and a laundry bag or container to collect used ones. Pre soak in baking soda and vinegar to help remove grease and or stains. Presto! You now have a great system in place and you are one step closer to a zero-waste kitchen! 

Swap Pre-packaged Foods for Bulk 

Take a look in your refrigerator and pantry. How many pre-packaged foods have you purchased and brought into your home? These typs of foods are convenient but the environmental impact is devastating because most of this packaging can’t be recycled easily. Research which local grocery stores, co-ops and stores sell food in bulk where you can bring your own containers and clean re-usable bags to purchase the foods you need. Often it is not only cheaper to buy your food from bulk bins but you can purchase only what you need reducing the chance of throwing away unused food. Additionally, buying from bulk can be fun and you can really turn your pantry into a more aesthetically pleasing experience devoid of marketing and often times (ugly) packaging from corporate food manufacturers. 

Swap Your Garbage Habit for Composting, Recycling and Alternative ‘Bags’ 

This swap will make your life easier in the long run but takes a little practice when getting started. Plastic garbage bags are NOT biodegradable and wreak havoc across the planet threatening entire eco-systems and species. There is much to learn about alternative biodegrable and compostable bags but unless these type bags go to a composting facility they also do not biodegrade properly. 

Ideally, most of the ‘wet waste’ we throw into our kitchen garbage bins could be composted right at home except for those including dairy and meat. Seperating food waste and adding it to a simple DIY compost or worm bin can offer many benefits including rich soil and fertilizer for houseplants and gardens. Next, make sure you are seperating recyclable items from trash. Check and see what items your municipal recycling program accepts and find alternative methods for recycling, re-using or upcycling the rest. 

The only ‘trash’ you should have left for your kitchen bin should be items you can’t recycle or re-use and non-compostable food scraps. By composting and recycling you should be able to reduce the size of your kitchen bin substantially and without wet items or food mucking up your ‘trash’ you should be able to use paper bags, liners made from newspaper or no bag at all. Gasp! 

Let us know how your kitchen swaps go this month! TAG US @bella_magazine with #bellakitchenswap  #plasticfree #zerowaste

Beth Deel is a local mom, artist and fun-maker! She plans socially responsible events at Good Times Event Co. and strives to reduce her personal environmental impact at home and at work, through planet-friendly lifestyle changes, environmental activism and zero waste goals