Resolving to live a more sustainable lifestyle can be overwhelming. It's hard to know where to start. Whether you want to reduce plastic use, make less waste, decrease your energy consumption or lower your carbon footprint, the task can seem daunting. The truth is, you're not going to have a zero waste lifestyle overnight, but you can make a handful of swaps that will really move the needle. Pick one, or try them all! Remember, every little bit helps.
Save Your Scraps
Did you know that about 20% of ALL landfill is food waste? Pretty shocking statistic when you think about it. Of course, it’s not all edible food. Things like banana peels and avocado pits aren’t going to be turned into anything delicious no matter how hard you try (although if you've got a green thumb, growing your own avocado plant is an easy way to keep that seed out of the trash and get some free plants for your space!).
But that doesn’t mean that your food waste can’t be useful. It's easy (an a lot less smelly than you might think) to start collecting your food scraps and other organic waste and using them for garden composting. It's not only a great way to re-use your scraps, but you reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. That’s because food that goes to landfill doesn’t have any oxygen to “breathe” as it decomposes. As a result it produces methane, a greenhouse gas that's about 20- to 150-times more potent than carbon dioxide. And saving your scraps enriches the soil and makes your herb or veggie garden healthier. Win-win!
No garden? No problem. Store your food scraps in the freezer or a bin on the counter and donate them to a local compost collection. If you're having trouble finding a local collection, try your local farmer's market or contact your municipal government or your local trash removal service for more information.
The next time you're in the market for pots or pans, we recommend switching to cast iron if you can. Heavy cast iron pans heat up slowly and thoroughly, allowing the food you cook to infuse with flavor as you prepare it. You know what’s even better? They last longer. They’re easier to clean. They don’t need to be replaced nearly as often (properly cared for cast irons can last generations), which means less landfill waste. Like all good things, for a little investment up front, you end up saving a lot more over the life of the product.
One of the biggest sources of preventable waste in a house, not just a kitchen, is the overuse of plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and single-use plastic bags and containers.
When it comes to storage containers, opt for glass over plastic, which is potentially toxic and will degrade as it heats and cools. Metal and silicone are other options to consider, as well. Using less cling wrap and foil that takes decades to decompose (if at all) multiplied by millions of households can have a big positive impact on our planet. Some products we love that have made the switch easy: Stasher bags, Food Huggers, Beeswrap-- An up-front investment in these reusable products will save you tons down the road.
Keep That Cup
This is probably no surprise, and you’ve probably joined the millions of reusable coffee cup users already. But if you haven’t, 2021 is the right time to jump in. Think of it as a fashion accessory, the same as a necklace or phone cover. There are minimal styles, those with loads of color, Scandinavian-inspired, you name it. Just find one that fits your style and ditch the single-use cup.
Weird name, eh? But these things are incredible and a perfect way to ditch single-use paper towels for spills and clean up in your house. They can be washed, they feel like paper towels, and they do the job they are made to do: cleaning stuff up! They even stick together so you can apply them on top of an old paper roll and they'll feel just like their paper counterparts! Don't want to invest in a new product? Tattered clothes that might not have any resale value or old towels will also do the trick.
We’re certain that you will have spotted a sustainable swap (or a few swaps) that will work for you, and the environment, in 2021.