(BPT) - Environmental protection is always capturing headlines, but you might wonder what you can do as an individual to make a difference at home. Do your small efforts even matter in the big picture of a greener world?
The truth is every eco-minded effort counts, no matter how small it may seem. One of the best places to start is at home in your very own kitchen. Some of the simplest, most cost-effective changes can have the biggest cumulative impact in the new year.
Looking for ideas? These simple, everyday habits will help you create a greener kitchen and eco-friendly household:
Prevent food waste
Food waste is estimated at between 30-40% of the food supply in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Billions of pounds of food is wasted every year, often due to spoilage, which is why preserving food properly is essential. Dry goods should be sealed air tight and out of sunlight, ideally in a cool and dry location. Fresh foods can spoil, so it's important to store produce properly. Look for storage options created specifically for fresh foods to keep the proper air and moisture ratio for optimum freshness. Most produce should be stored in the fridge, but some items like bananas, pears, avocado, melons and tomatoes last longer when not refrigerated. When it comes to food waste, consider composting at home or through a curbside program, which creates a trickle-down effect that can benefit you as well as the environment. When in doubt, do your research to understand the different options.
Get trash bags made with less plastic
While reducing waste is important, you probably will still need to use trash bags in the kitchen. Research options and find a greener bag. Glad’s drawstring kitchen trash bags use less plastic than leading competitors* without sacrificing performance. Glad’s ForceFlexPlus Recovered Materials Bag is the brand’s most sustainable bag. They have the same trusted Glad strength you can depend on but are made with 50% recovered plastic — 20% recycled plastic, 30% reclaimed plastic — and are made with 100% renewable energy (in Glad’s North American plants) and come in 100% recyclable packaging (in Glad’s North American plants). Learn more at Glad.com/Sustainability.
*Ranges from 7% to 22% less plastic vs. top 10 competitors
Opt for the dishwasher
If you wash dishes by hand instead of in the dishwasher thinking you're saving water, you may be mistaken. This is particularly true if you're like most people and run the hot water for rinsing continuously as you do dishes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, newer EnergyStar dishwasher models use 6 gallons or less per wash cycle, plus save on electricity. You can maximize savings further by only running the dishwasher when it's full.
Last but not least, prioritize recycling throughout your day. Know what can be recycled in your area and be sure to place those items as indicated in the recycling bin rather than the trash. Unsoiled paper products can typically be recycled, as well as many glass containers, metal lids and plastic containers that have been rinsed well.
Whether you live in an urban setting or far out in the country — or one of the many places in between — Mother Nature serves an important role in your life. These simple steps that you can do in your very own kitchen make a big difference.