Going green has gone from a trend to a way of life. And yet, I can’t seem to overcome my fear of composting (the worms!). Which is why I’m all about taking baby steps—starting in the kitchen. The room where much of our daily activity and consumption occur is a gold mine for going green.
10 easy ways to clean up your act:
- Recycle, recycle, recycle. Before you throw away another aluminum can, think about this: a single aluminum can saved by recycling is equivalent to a half gallon of gasoline.
- Wash dishes in the dishwasher, not by hand. “A fully loaded dishwasher uses about 5 gallons of water—about 4 times less than if you washed them by hand,” says eco-living expert Danny Seo. “Plus, a dishwasher sanitizes better. Yes, lazier is greener and better!”
- Make your own countertop cleanser. It’s easy, inexpensive and healthier for you and the environment. Fill a spray bottle with 1 part distilled white vinegar and 1 part water. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance, and spritz away.
- Nuke the sponge. A wet sponge can be a breeding ground for nasty germs that you just spread around when you clean. Seo suggests microwaving it for 90 seconds to radiate away all the germs and bacteria.
- Replace the fridge if it’s more than 15 years old. “A refrigerator is the only appliance you NEVER turn off from the day you plug it in,” says Seo. “The older it gets, the more energy and money is wasted. Investing in an Energy Star rated model will save on both over time.”
- Reserve paper towels for emergencies only. You’ll save on trees by switching to cloth towels and napkins, which can be reused. Plus, they look nicer on the table!
- Grocery shop with reuseable bags—one for meat products, one for produce and one for everything else. “You can cross-contaminate your veggies if meat drips onto your produce,” warns Seo.
- Compost! I’m told that it’s a whole lot easier than it looks, and there are loads of pretty (and odorless) countertop compost pails on the market. Just toss in food scraps until the pail is full, then transfer to your outdoor compost pile or garden.
- Buy your favorite liquid soap in bulk, and transfer to glass bottles in kitchen and bathrooms. You’ll save money and help cut down on the number of plastic bottles that wind up in the landfill each year.
- Turn unwanted leftovers into a delicious treasure. The bunch of parsley you hardly touched, the wilted greens, the lone carrot. It’s so easy to throw items away, but why waste what can be made into soup stock or blended into pesto? Every little bit counts.