Summer travel, reunions with friends and family, and slow warm evenings have us reconnecting to the natural beauty that surrounds us—which we often take for granted. We’re all looking to do our part to care for our planet and minimize our personal carbon footprint every day. It’s often the simple things that make the biggest difference in and out of our homes.
Choose Glass Over Plastic
Most of us grew up in the age of plastic everything but with scientific research demonstrating potential toxicity from many plastics, it’s recommended consumers replace plastic with a safer cooking, serving, and storage container material: glass. Try substituting typical plasticware for more durable, classic glass storage containers in various sizes. Another perk of using glass is that it won’t hold odor like some plastic. It also looks beautiful displayed side by side in a pantry, fridge, or cupboard.
In addition, opt out of typical zip or sliding plastic bags for storing leftovers and instead reuse small glass mason jars or wash and reuse glass containers with lids like jars for pickles, kimchi, and sauerkraut, specialty sauce containers, and jam jars. Another environmentally friendly way to store leftovers is with beeswax bowl covers instead of plastic wrap.
Many empty bottles can be given a second, elegant life. Sparkling water bottles in green or clear glass can be reused as carafes. Rinse out, remove label, and store in the fridge for cold water.
No More Plastic Straws
Scientists have found plastic straws to be extremely harmful to the environment. It’s estimated 500 million straws are used every day in the United States—and most of these end up in the ocean, polluting the water and harming marine life.
Instead of using plastic straws, opt for a metal or silicone reusable straw at home and work. It’s a little thing that makes a big difference. Many come with a handy carrying case and cleaning brush so you can even take them with you to use on the go.
Buy Pantry Staples in Bulk
It may be more of an investment up front, but buying groceries in bulk is a simple way to conserve energy, limit packaging (e.g. buy one big bag instead of four small bags), and limit waste in your household. Choose food that stores well in bulk like almonds, grains, rice, lentils, coffee, spices, canned beans and vegetables, bottled fruit, and jams.
Shop big box stores for affordable organic staples and peruse local ethnic markets for unique flours, grains, chocolate, and spices.
In order to ensure the longest shelf life possible for grains, flours, and dried beans, transfer these staples from the large bags they come in that aren’t resealable into oversized jars with metal lids or large food storage buckets. Double check that lid: a snug lid means optimal preservation.
Reusable Shopping Bags
They may seem harmless, but plastic grocery bags can seriously harm the environment. Once in soil, they leach toxic chemicals into the ground and become a choking hazard for small animals. In several cities in the country, plastic shopping bags are banned in grocery stores citing the environmental risk of consumers’ tossing millions every year.
One of the simplest ways to live more green is by carrying reusable shopping bags. They’re easy to find at any local market or organic grocer, or you can use any cotton tote bag or canvas bag with straps. Store them in the trunk of the car, or in a kitchen closet for easy access when you’re heading to the market.
TIP: Remember to wash your reusable grocery bags on a hot wash cycle frequently, especially if you’re toting fresh produce and meat products