Earth Day is coming up, and when you hear dire warnings about things like global warming, mass deforestation, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it can make you feel like nothing less than living on an off-the-grid self-sufficient commune will make a dent in the current trajectory.
While there are lots of ways to reduce your carbon footprint, admittedly some of them seem more difficult than others. Here are five simple changes you can make in the room you probably spend the most time in – your kitchen.
Compost: When you toss your food scraps in the regular garbage packaged up in a plastic trash bag, it not only contributes to the large volume of landfill trash, but as it decomposes in the sealed bag it produces methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Decomposing food in landfills is actually one of the THE BIGGEST contributors to greenhouse gases. To reduce the amount of food in your garbage, compost any leftover produce so it can be re-purposed in your garden. And if you don’t personally have a compost bin, see if your waste company offers a yard waste or compost option, helping to make rich compost available for others to use.
Eat Less Meat Once a Week: Meat takes a lot of natural resources to produce, so reducing your consumption can reduce your carbon footprint. In your family that may look like implementing Meatless Mondays, cutting your Taco Tuesday tortilla filler with veggies, beans, or quinoa, or simply reducing portions.
Reduce Food Waste: Reducing food waste not only helps you to save money, but it helps you to save the Earth as well. It will reduce discarded food that produces methane gas, and even reduce your need to buy more meat. Find some great ways to reduce your food waste by freezing and re-purposing your leftovers here. And also, see how washing your produce can help it last longer.
Quit the Paper Towels: We reach for the paper towels all the time: to wipe up spills, clean the windows, and even use as napkins. Instead, buy a stash of reusable cloths and use them in place of paper towels. Even if you’re not ready to jump in with this 100%, think before you reach for the disposable towels about whether you can use a reusable towel instead. (NOTE: If you still use paper towels, don’t toss them in the trash – they can actually be composted!)
Don’t Buy Individual-Sized Food Products: I get it. It’s so much easier to throw a single-serving bag of chips or a little container of applesauce into your child’s lunch. But with a little preparation, you can buy the large version and portion it out into reusable containers of individual servings. Not only will you be reducing the amount of trash your family creates, but you’ll also save money – those small-sized portions always cost way more than the full-sized versions!
Stop letting the pursuit of perfection make you feel like the small changes you make aren’t worth it. Instead, do what you can and celebrate that.
Which of these tips can you implement? How do you reduce your personal carbon footprint?