4 Tips to Make Your Home Kitchen More Environmentally Friendly and Reduce Waste

Celebrate the Earth this Earth Day by implementing these tips for a more sustainable home kitchen.

Published Apr. 21, 2022.

Happy Earth Day!

Sustainability is having a major moment in restaurants and in households across the globe.

As a food lover, when I take a moment to pause and enjoy food, I am amazed at what the Earth is able to provide for us. After a brief stint working at a certified organic farm and its correlating restaurant in Denmark a few years back, I now celebrate the whole cycle from earth to plate when I cook at home. 

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Here are some tips on how I strive to make my home kitchen more sustainable. I hope you’ll try these tips in your home kitchen.

1. Compost

When I’m cooking at home, I’m constantly filling up my compost bin with food scraps, such as various vegetable trimmings from making salads and side dishes (think about all those potato peels from a batch of mashed potatoes); spent chicken carcasses from making stock; egg shells from breakfast; and, of course, coffee grounds, from all the java I’m drinking to keep me going. 

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I subscribe to a service that picks up my bucket of food scraps (and lots of the aforementioned coffee grounds) and drops off an empty one biweekly. When the compost is broken down into nutrient-packed black gold, the company ships some for me to use in my home garden. 

You can create your own compost bin or pile or find a business or farm that collects compost for you. Composting helps reduce carbon emissions and introduces nutrients back into the soil to replenish what’s been taken out. It also reduces the amount of trash that is sent to landfills. (I take out my trash only once a month!)

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2. Buy Local

Buying local helps support farms and local communities. Without farms, there’s no food. Local foods have lower food miles, meaning they travel fewer miles by gas‑powered trucks or planes. Smaller farms are able to care more deeply and put more energy into each plant, making their products taste better than industrially farmed food. Local meats and seafood come from hardworking folks who care about their reputations and their animals.

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3. Use It Before You Lose It

I keep a dry-erase board attached to my refrigerator where I write down what groceries I need, as well as what I have that needs to be eaten sooner rather than later. 

In restaurants there’s something called FIFO, which stands for “first in, first out.” By following this at home, I am less likely to find something too far gone in my refrigerator that needs to be composted.

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4. Reuse and Recycle

When buying foods at the grocery store or the market, I try to eliminate excess packaging. There are several ways to do this.

  • Bring your own reusable produce bags and shopping bags
  • Buy nuts, seeds, and—if you use a lot of them—spices in bulk, and bring your own containers. 
  • Buy meat and seafood from the butcher and seafood counter so that they’re wrapped in butcher paper rather than vacuum-sealed in plastic. 
  • Look for items that come in paper or glass packaging instead of plastic since these are much easier to recycle.
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