Whether you have a garden or not, you can put your food scraps and vegetable peels to good use, and do so while reducing the size of landfills and cutting down on your use of plastic garbage bags. The nitrogen- and carbon-rich compost you will generate can be used for enriching your plants' soil. Depending on things like available space, and budget of time and money, you can choose between different options.
First you want to gather up the ingredients for your compost that you already have lying around: Kitchen food scaps of all kinds, coffee grounds, anything made from paper including bags and boxes, wood chips, and of course grass clippings. Really the only things you may want to stay away from are meat and dairy products, just so that they don't attract wild animals.
Bamboo is a fantastic green alternative to traditional wood based products. As many of our customers are thrilled with the bamboo cutting boards that we offer, they often ask about the best way to clean them. Here is a great method to try:
- Rinse the bamboo cutting board with hot water right after you use it, and add a bit of natural dishwashing liquid. Scrub both the front and back, then rinse with hot water.
The room where food is prepared, stored and often enjoyed requires constant vigilance. Splatters, spills and errant crumbs can build up and collect out of sight, encouraging harmful bacteria.
Baking Soda and Water: Reclaim counters by sprinkling with baking soda, then scrubbing with a damp cloth or sponge. If you have stains, knead the baking soda and water into a paste and let set for a while before you remove. This method also works great for stainless steel sinks, cutting boards, containers, refrigerators, oven tops and more.
Plastic storage bags are easy and convenient, but they're also disposable and wasteful. Often we toss sandwich and freezer bags after using them only once into landfills. The first option is to wash and re-use the bags. Sandwich bags may not stand up to much abuse, but freezer bags can handle several washings.
Recently, things have gotten better as we have the option of recycling these bags at any plastic bag-recycling bin, like those now found at many grocery stores and supermarkets. According to a Ziploc spokesman, those bins we all thought were for plastic shopping bags are good for other plastic bags too.
Packaging makes up more than 30% of all consumer waste, according to the EPA. So making a dent in all those boxes, cans and piles of plastic wrap will have a real impact by simply purchasing from bulk bins at your favorite market. Ideally, bring your own reusable containers to the store and fill up with what you'll need. If you need to store your items when you get home, choose containers that can be cleaned and reused when finished.
Before you decide to turn on that A/C, check to see if your windows are opened properly! Sounds crazy but most people are opening their double hung windows wrong.
Don't just grab the bottom sash and open it all the way... what you need to do it open the top section down some AND the bottom section up some. The reason is that the cooler air will come in through the bottom opening and exhaust the hot air trapped up at the ceiling of the room through the upper area. A very simple principal and one that just may keep you from jumping to the thermostat a little bit longer.
If you buy your daily cup of coffee in a disposable container, you are generating about 22.75 pounds of waste per year. Reduce waste by using a reusable mug at home, in the office and on the go, instead of opting for single-use containers for coffee and tea.
You could also be wasting money as personal finance experts recommend making it at home to save over $300 a year. Across the country, 25 billion Styrofoam cups are thrown away every year, according to the EPA. That is cause for great alarm because polystyrene takes hundreds of years to break down, and is made of nonrenewable petroleum.
Cups made of paper products are easier on the environment, but they are made of trees and can result in destructive deforestation. Even recycled paper cups require considerable energy to produce and distribute. Even compostable containers, as fantastic as they are for breaking down in 30 days, will only do so in a commercial compost. So unless you pay attention to how you are throwing them away, the benefit is lost.
It's wise to use ceramic or glass containers for your hot beverages, because plastics can leach out small amounts of potentially harmful chemicals over time, like pthalates and bisphenol A. If the risk of breakage is high, and for on-the-go uses, consider stainless steel.
As an added incentive, remember that many coffee shops and university food services offer discounts for those who bring in their own reusable containers. Starbucks, for example, offers a 10-cent discount to those with their own mugs.