I’m really interested in doing what I can do to help save our planet. Things like turning off the water as I brush my teeth and adding a fleece vest over my sweater instead of turning up the heat, are already steps I’ve taken to cut waste and use less energy. So I feel as if I am doing my part to help the environment, but am wondering if I should be doing more.
Just by looking around my own kitchen and thinking about how I shop and cook, I can see many ways to cut energy usage and reduce waste.
- Unplug freezers: Stand-alone freezers consume around 103 kWh, costing an average of $170 per year. If you have an empty freezer, save your money and the environment and unplug it until you really need it.
- Close the Refrigerator Door: People spend about 10 hours looking in an open fridge or freezer every year. Maybe teenagers think staring into the fridge is a form of meditation, but we adults know it’s an energy drain! I like to prepare a plate of healthy snacks for after-school snacking ready to be pulled from the fridge so there is less roaming and grazing. I try to keep my fridge organized for quick retrieval. Also, as I pack and unpack my groceries, I group refrigerator items together so I can open the fridge door just once to put them all in quickly.
- Limit Use: Wash and prep your foods for the week all at once to save water.
- Dishwasher: We only run the dishwasher if it is full. My hubby likes to rearrange it to get maximum number of dishes. It’s his “thing”!
- Fertilize With Water: The water I have used to cook or steam my vegetables is rich in vitamins and minerals . After the water cools, I toss it on the gardens to enrich the soil.
- Forty Percent of All Food is Wasted: Ouch. This means not only are our landfills overflowing with food waste, but also with plastic and other packaging materials.
- Pre-Plan: Planning out meals for the week ensures you have the foods you need without extra trips to the grocery store, saving money and gas, plus your own precious time.
- Shop With a Grocery List: Using a grocery list not only cuts down on your shopping time, but keeps you from having to make multiple trips to the store each week. Remember to use your Dinnertime Pantry Manager to keep track of what you already have and what you need to re-stock.
- Prep: Rinse and cut up veggies when you get home from the store. I like to prep my lunches at this time too. This reduces the number of times you will need to open the fridge and helps you stay in control of what you have planned.
- Reduce Packaging: I like to bring my own grocery bags and even my own produce bags to the store. My friend will often re-use the grocery store’s produce bags. Always be mindful as to whether you really need to use a plastic bag for every type of produce. For example, a lemon doesn’t need to be in its own bag, but loose green beans would.
- Shop Local: Even large grocery chains are committed to bringing you local produce. I try to plan my meals using in-season produce as much as possible. The amount of energy used by trucks and planes moving food across the country, and even across the globe, is staggering.
- Cook Once: Turning on the oven or grill once every couple of days is my ideal way of cooking, plus it reduces the amount of energy needed. At least once a week, I try to make a meal that can be reheated quickly or eaten cold for another night. Adding an extra serving or two to a chicken dish provides me with lunch.
- More Meatless Meals: Choosing one more vegetarian meal a week reduces the environmental strain. Approximately 1,850 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef compared to 39 gallons of water needed to produce a pound of vegetables.
Interestingly, I find that my energy and waste-reducing measures are also cost-saving measures. Seems like a win-win for our environment and my family! Have your own tips to reduce energy and waste? We’d love to hear them…send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.