GreenChic / Jennifer Spaide
The Green Kitchen Movement
I'm a green food junkie -- guilty as charged. I love to buy fresh, organic, local, healthy foods as much as edibly possible. But recently I realized that something was missing from my food routine. I finally figured out that I was dropping the green ball as soon as my eco-friendly reusable grocery bags hit my kitchen counter top. It seems that greening our food choices is easy. However taking the green food movement a few steps further and creating a greener kitchen can feel daunting. So here are some simple ways to start creating a greener kitchen:
Freeze leftovers -- In my house, leftovers seem to be the rule, not the exception. We all try to use as many of our food remainders as we can. But unless your Scottish blood runs extra thick, even the most well-intended cook can fall short. So instead of sacrificing whatever tasty morsels you can't finish the first time around to the garbage gods, freeze them for future use.
Compost kitchen waste -- Preparing countless meals and snacks every day can leave your trash can full of food scraps. Reduce your waste by composting as many of these scraps as you can. All fruit and veggie bits and pieces can be composted, as can coffee grounds including the filter, tea and tea bags, even egg shells as long as they've been washed. Keep meats, dairy and oils out though as they can encourage the growth of bad bacteria.
Reduce use of plastic baggies -- Baggies are convenient, no arguing there. But they've become the go-to for storing food items, which usually means they end up in the garbage soon after their short-lived life. My great grandmother used to wash out plastic bags and hang them out to dry on her clothesline. In her spirit I am also trying to give my plastic baggies multiple lives by reusing them. You can purchase a counter-top bag dryer, as I did (try Amazon, A Greener Kitchen and Gaiam) which addresses both our desire for convenience and eco-friendliness.
Give containers a second life -- It's inevitable that sometimes we buy certain food that come in containers or cartons. Instead of tossing them right into the garbage when we are done, find ways to reuse them. For instance, those little individual-sized applesauce containers make the perfect dip bowls for your kids' veggie plates. And the plastic containers mushrooms often come in are fantastic for organizing drawers.
Ditch the paper products -- Paper plates and towels are fast and easy but use up valuable natural resources and create a lot of waste, especially if there are a lot of people running around your house. Use the real thing instead -- real dishes for your meals, cloth rags to wipe up messes and cloth napkins at the dinner table as much as you can.
Use green cleaners -- Dishwasher detergent, dish soap, counter-top cleaners, window washers; we all end up using a lot of chemicals in our kitchen. Just because you buy organic food doesn't mean you aren't ingesting or inhaling toxic chemicals if we are using them in our kitchens. So help reduce your family's exposure to chemicals by opting for green cleaners instead of the standard versions. They are non-toxic, and they really do work!
Unplug your appliances -- How many electrical appliances do you have in your kitchen? Toaster oven, coffeepot, blender, food processor, juicer, etc. Even if these appliances are not turned on, being plugged into the wall outlet saps electricity. Make it a habit to not only turn off, but unplug, your gadgets and gizmos when they aren't in use. Oh, and while you're at it, turn of those lights and let the sun shine in. You'll save electricity, and dollar bills.
I hope you'll join me in my quest to fuel the green kitchen movement. These tips and ideas may seem small, but remember that all these little things can add up to make a big difference.
Jennifer Spaide received her master's degree in human nutrition from Columbia University. She is a mom, personal chef and freelance writer residing in New Canaan. As founder of GreenChic, Jennifer is dedicated to inspiring individuals to get fresh in the kitchen and eat their way to a healthy life. Contact Jennifer at 203-247-2002 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.thegreenchiclife.com to learn more.