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Tips to live a waste free life and lower your carbon footprint

Updated on June 2, 2012

In the Kitchen

So we all hear about global warming, over population and basically the destruction we are doing to our Earth. Americans especially seem to have more trash and waste then we know what to do with, we actually send it to other countries. I know that striving for a zero waste existence may not help the big picture, but what if everyone did one small thing to make a difference? What if everyone did two? Frugal living is sometimes a lifestyle you choose and sometimes one thrust upon you. However there are a lot of good things that can come of it, in your wallet and in your carbon footprint.

One of the main places we seem to use or waste the most is in the kitchen. Here are a few tips that go from easy to dedicated as far as effort.

1. Stop buying bottled water! Heard that before huh? Well, there is a reason. My household consumes at least 2 six packs of Propel in a weeks time. If you buy a filter and metal water bottle, you can save 624 bottles from going in to our dumps. Not to mention if you buy the powder to make your flavored water you are paying 30 cents a bottle for namebrand Propel, 20 cents a bottle for generic. Buying in bottle, average 85 cents per bottle in grocery stores as six pack, over 1.50 a bottle as singles in the gas station. Savings if you were to buy a filter and namebrand Propel powder as opposed to six packs pre bottled=over 495.00 a year. Just in water alone!

2. Switching to a milk brand that sells their product in glass jars. These are great reusable containers that the company in essence will usually buy back from you. If your family consumes 2 gallons a week, This takes 104 empty jugs from our land fills. Price wise I have found it to be 20-30 higher a half gallon, however the company is usually local and product taste is greatly improved. On average, they will also contain less preservatives and chemicals.

3. Use cloth shopping bags. Seems to be the new trend nowadays, they sell any where for a mere dollar or so each. Imagine 5 bags a week, 260 less bags to fly around in the wind. If you do happen to need that last minute thing and no bags in sight, use it later for trash. All this reducing on trash, you may even save some money after all by not buying trash bags.

4. Take it a step further and use mesh laundry bags to buy and store your produce. Small investment for several and your produce will even stay fresh longer with the ability to breathe. You can imagine how many plastic bags that would be reduced from our waste.

5. A step passed that, bring glass jars to buy meat and cheese from your local grocer. Like I said before, very different degrees of involvement here. Might seem a bit drastic, but imagine all the meat packs we throw out. Reducing some of the material would be to buy from a local butcher with paper wrap which will decompose easier.

6. Storing most food staples in glass jars with air tight lids and buying in bulk. The savings can be substancial for buying in bulk, as is the packaging made to store it. This can help your footprint and your wallet. Just make sure these are things that are in constant need or demand, everyday items. Flour, sugar, cereal, etc.

7. Buy local. Most product can usually be bought on a local scale, i.e. farmers markets. The price will usually be lower as less gasoline will be used to deliver. As gas prices soar, prices in main markets will rise considerably as they already are. As everything goes up, buy local and buy in season. 

8. Cook. Simple enough huh? The closer the food is to it's form in nature usually is better for you and cheaper. Meaning, pre made, pre packaged food is usually more expensive and chocked full of nasty chemicals we can not even pronounce. You start to wonder what color our food really is with all the added color nowadays. So feed your body and your family's body better and cook. And if you don't know how, learn. Eating out you will pay higher prices still because you are paying for them to cook it. If you want to try something new, there are literally hundreds of thousands of recipes on this great internet to try and explore.

9.  Make a list and plan your trip.  Meal planning can cut down your waste dramatically, as everything you buy has a purpose.  Also you will save money on gasoline when you do not have to run out every other night for a missed ingredient.

10.  Start a garden.  Whatever space you have, almost wherever you live, you can grow a garden.  Whether it be a few small pots on the porch or a large plot.  The quality is better and the cost is minimal.  Try your thumb in a little gardening, include your children and teach them where their food comes from.  I have always gotten a great sense of peace from gardening.

11.  Composte the rest.  Make sure you put in several worms and everything else goes.  Peels, egg shells, some paper, many things can be composted if not recycled.  It makes for great fertilizer for your garden or flowers.

So I challenge you, can you change one small thing in your kitchen?

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