Written By: Alejandra Zamora
Happy April! This month we celebrate Earth Day, an annual, worldwide campaign to raise awareness for pressing environmental issues like climate change, recycling, deforestation, pollution and more. While technically only one day a year, Earth Day highlights topics that should be kept top of mind while we go on about our everyday lives, like sustainable practices that individuals and businesses can adopt to really make a difference. Much of the difference we as individuals can make can actually be done in the kitchen, like reducing food waste and investing in reusable products. In fact, did you know that many of these routines can also save you time and money? In this blog post, we’re challenging you (and ourselves!) to try implementing the following practices, and let us know what they do for your daily routine— and your wallet!
Reduce your food waste
According to the EPA, 63.1 million tons of food waste was accumulated in landfills across commercial, institutional, and residential sectors. So many things can be done to reduce food waste that will also save money and extend your food supply. Firstly, composting has become extremely popular in the last few years due to its ease and impact. In case you’re unfamiliar, composting is the collection of food and kitchen scraps, like egg shells, coffee grounds, and cardboard, that can be repurposed to fertilize soil. Not only can this practice save space in your garbage (hooray to buying less trash bags!), but it has also offloaded 25 million tons of municipal solid waste from landfills. But, what about the smell? Not to worry– many shops sell countertop compost containers that come with a built-in filter for any potential smell. You can even check your municipal government or local trash collector’s website to see if they offer composting services like curbside collection or a free bin. Check here for a list of a few pickup services.
Another way to reduce food waste that can also save you money is to actually use your food scraps! For instance, you can…
- Use vegetable scraps like carrot tops, onion peels and celery hearts to make homemade stock or pesto
- Drop parmesan rinds in soups to give it extra flavor (keep it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it)
- Turn your coffee grounds into a body scrub
- Create croutons, breadcrumbs, bread pudding or French toast out of stale bread
- Deglaze pans or make sauces with old alcohol like wine
While these tips do require a little more TLC than others, it’s worth it in the long run for the effect it has on your wallet and your pantry!
Invest in reusable, sustainable products
Take note of the word invest in this section. Some reusable products can seem expensive up front, but over time, you save more money than you spend. As a matter of fact, according to one blog, you can save up to $9,000 a year by making just a few of these swaps. Here are some to consider:
- Buy less paper towels for cleanup and eating by using cloths and old rags.
- A good-quality water bottle will save you from buying heavy packs of plastic water bottles at the store (not to mention the fridge space it’ll save!).
- At some grocery stores, bringing reusable bags can save you some cents for every trip.
- Cloth coffee filters and fill-able K-Cups mean no more buying disposable filters
- Reusable sealed bags for school lunches and leftovers will prevent you from buying disposable plastic ones at the store. Hot tip: You can even make popcorn with them!
- Stainless steel cutlery and kitchen utensils like spatulas and tongs will last longer and be easier to clean than plastic ones
- Energy Star appliances can cut costs on your energy bill
Check out this blog post for specific breakdowns on exactly how much money you can save with some of these tips.
Meal plan & shop the right way
When you think of meal planning or prepping, you probably picture a kitchen counter full of containers that contain full breakfast, lunch and dinner meals with an ingredient from every level of the food pyramid. While that image is great if you have the time, meal planning doesn’t have to look exactly like that! Meal planning simply means heading to the grocery store with a list of ingredients derived from a set of recipes you plan on making during the week. When you head to the store with a mission, you’ll avoid wandering through aisles to pick up items you may or may not have and wasting food at home. In our Common Threads recipe tab, we have an arsenal of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts and snacks that were created with families and nutrition in mind. Browse through our collection, pick a few doable recipes and write down your weekly list of groceries after taking into account what you already have– all you need is a few minutes! Take a look at our 4-3-2-1 Meal Planning resource video to learn another easy method with more tips and tricks for you successfully meal prep for the week.
Another easy way to save money and the Earth is to adopt certain shopping practices, like buying produce in-season. In-season fruits and vegetables are produce currently at their harvesting peak. This also means that prices are typically lower for these particular items due to high supply. Get creative each season by swapping out different fruits for snacks and greens for salads and casseroles. Check out a comprehensive list of what’s in-season here. Buying frozen foods like spinach for stir fry’s and fruit for smoothies is also a great way to save money (it’s almost always less expensive!) and make food last longer (hello, less food waste!).
We hope you incorporate some of these tips into your everyday lifestyle to see how they can benefit you and our planet. Make every day Earth Day with Common Threads!