Long term sustainability is always on my mind. My brain is always scheming for ways to become more self sufficient, more sustainable, and more natural. The health of my family and the health of the planet are very important to me. But here’s the thing… sustainability is super overwhelming. The idea of transitioning every aspect of your daily life in order to be more green is paralyzing. I know how you feel… believe me, I’ve been there.
The key to living a more sustainable and natural life is to take it one baby step at a time. You can’t overhaul your entire life in one day. Change a few little things, give them time to sink in and become habit, then change a few more little things.
If you’re into the idea of sustainability and living a more natural life but don’t know where to start, this one’s for you. There are plenty of easy and simple ways to start living more sustainably, but we’re only going to cover three, and they revolve around what goes on every single day in your kitchen. If you can use these three easy tips to go green in the kitchen, it will make you more healthy, save you money, and help out the planet in a big way.
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3 Easy Ways to go Green in the Kitchen:
1. Start Composting
Composting is one of the easiest and most sustainable things you can do in your kitchen. We started composting when we lived in the city and had a tiny backyard, and we’ve continued it now that we live in the woods. We’ve had lots of people ask us to help them to start composting. I’ve found that more often than not, people over-complicate the idea of composting and never get started doing it because they’re paralyzed by the fear of doing it wrong.
I’m telling you now, there’s practically no way to mess up compost. It’s literally just throwing unwanted organic material in a pile outside and letting it rot. You can spend hundreds of dollars on a Compost Tumbler, but it’s totally unnecessary.
For the simplest and easiest composting system, start with a simple lidded container on your counter top. This could be an empty coffee can or a thrifted ceramic jar, you could even buy a fancy compost bin if you want something nice. Toss all of your organic material into the jar.
When the jar is full, take it outside and dump it in your designated compost spot. It should be a spot that’s out of the way but still easily accessible to your kitchen. Whenever you’re doing yard work you can add to the compost pile. Toss in grass clippings, leaves, weeds, and spent veggie and flower plants.
Every once in a while use a shovel or pitchfork to stir up the pile, turning the stuff on the bottom upside down so it can get some oxygen. This speeds up the rate at which your compost pile decomposes and it’s a good workout for your arms too!
Here are the things we compost:
- Food scraps (excluding what goes to our animals and the stock bag)
- Egg shells
- Coffee grounds and tea bags
- Nut shells
- Dirt and dust from vacuuming and sweeping
- Hair from hair cuts
- Pet hair after brushing
- Some wood ash from the stove (half of it goes into our chicken dust baths)
- Spent bedding from the rabbitry and chicken coop
- Shredded paper and cardboard
- Grass clippings
- Weeds and spent plants
If you’re intrigued on composting and dying to know more about it, check out this extensive article on composting, including 100 things you can compost!
2. Save Kitchen Scraps for Making Stock
We used to pick up chicken stock at the grocery store every single week. High quality chicken stock is close to $3 a carton. We use it in practically everything we cook, and were spending close to $150 a year just on chicken stock. We finally stopped buying and started making our own, and you guys, this is so easy it’s crazy.
Whenever you roast up a chicken or a turkey, save the carcass. Put it in a big gallon ziplock freezer bag and pop it into the freezer. Whenever you trim veggies or herbs for your meal, pop the parts you would normally throw away into the freezer bag as well.
When the freezer bag is full, simply dump it into a pot of water and simmer for several hours. You can store the resulting stock in the fridge to use fresh or store in the freezer to make it last longer. The best thing about making your own stock is you can customize it however you want. You can add salt and seasonings or not, it’s up to you!
Here are some things we add to our freezer stock bag:
- Celery and carrot tips
- Parmesan cheese rinds
- Lemon rinds
- Onion skins
- Herb stems
- Chicken/turkey carcasses
3. Ditch the Commercial Cleaners and Paper Towels
The kitchen is notoriously one of the most dirtied places in the home. We make two meals per day in our kitchen and I feel like I’m cleaning it constantly.
Getting rid of your commercial cleaners and stopping the use of paper towels is one of the easiest ways to be more sustainable and more healthy. Commercial cleaners are full of nasty toxic chemicals. Do you really want to be spraying them on surfaces that you use to prepare your food? You can easily make your own kitchen cleaners, which will save you money, help the environment, and save your health.
Here are some easy to make kitchen cleaners:
Stopping the use of paper towels, or at least drastically reducing it, is a huge move for a more sustainable kitchen. Everyone knows paper towels are wasteful and bad for the environment. There are lots of alternatives, one of which you could start using today. We like to cut up old towels and t-shirts to turn them into rags. We use these with our homemade cleaners to clean all the surfaces in our home, then into the washing machine they go!
If you don’t like the idea of turning old towels into rags, you can make a one time purchase of “unpaper towels” to use in the kitchen. These washable. towels come in cute patterns, are super absorbent, and mimic the ease of regular paper towels.
Here are some of our favorites, available on Etsy!
If you’re looking to go green in the kitchen, these three simple changes are sure to get you started. Once you hop on that natural living train, it becomes easier and easier to change your life for the better.