Earth Day is the perfect time to spend outdoors, plant a tree and cherish this planet we call home.
It is also a great day to re-evaluate your daily tasks and make some environmentally friendly changes, many of which begin in the kitchen.
Below are several tips to make your kitchen a more green environment:
• Buy local. Locally produced foods are fresher products that support your community. Local produce helps reduce fuel waste and packaging, which is often used in long-distance shipping.
• Buy in bulk. Buying goods in bulk help reduce packaging material that comes when you repeatedly buy single items. Better yet, buy ingredients from the bulk bins at your local store. Ask your store’s manager for permission to scoop your bulk-bin items directly into your own plastic storage containers.
• Examine the packaging. Individual-sized bags of chips and cookies may be more convenient but cause more trash. Look for food packaged is single layers and use recyclable materials.
• Invest in a water purifier. An at-home water purifier and reusable bottles will not only reduce waste but save money.
• Bring your own bags. Many stores reward their customers by “paying” them for using reusable bags, while some stores actually charge a fee for using their plastic bags.
• Cook in batches and make extras. If using the oven to cook lasagna throw in a batch of cookies at the same time. Since ovens use a lot of energy, this will cut down on extra wasted energy.
• Also when cooking, make an extra batch of that favorite lasagna; reheating food saves time and uses less energy than cooking from scratch.
• Use energy efficient appliances. Crock-Pots, toaster ovens and microwaves all use less amounts of energy compared to electric ovens.
• Use the dishwasher. A good quality dishwasher and dish detergent will thoroughly clean your dishes without pre-rinsing and actually saves more water compared to hand washing.
• Go natural. Avoid hazardous cleaning products that are harmful to your health and the environment. Baking soda, white vinegar and lemon juice are all great nontoxic cleaning products.
• Striving to be green? These baked beans are made in a low energy slow cooker and make a great addition to a spring barbecue.
Chef Heather Hunsaker attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. She currently serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site, www.foodonthetable.com.