9 Smart Ways to Be More Eco-Friendly in the Kitchen
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Look for locally grown produce at farmers markets, farm stands and food co-ops. You get fresher fare, support your community and help reduce the fuel and emissions that go along with long-distance shipping.
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Keep an Eye on the "9"
Check the numbered stickers on fruits and veggies. If they start with the number 9, your produce is organic, meaning it was grown without the use of pesticides. Growing food organically means farmers decrease their reliance on synthetic chemicals and typically enjoy soil that's more fertile.
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Bring Your Own Bag
To reduce trash, skip your supermarket's plastic bags and transport groceries in reusable tote bags or canvas produce sacks. Just remember to wash these bags regularly (lest bacteria grow in the fabric). If you must use plastic, look for a bin at the store that allows you to return the bags for recycling.
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Ditch the Plastic Bottles
With so many cute and functional reusable water bottles on the market today, there's no reason to reach for the plastic ones. Outfit your kitchen tap with a purified-water filter, and tote around a refillable sports bottle made of glass, aluminum or recycled plastic.
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Think About Reducing Waste When You Shop
Buy in bulk (which usually means less packaging per item), pick fresh ingredients and look for products with limited — or at least recyclable — packaging. Switch to cloth napkins, or buy paper towels and napkins labeled "recycled," "unbleached" or "post-consumer waste."
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Outdoor grills typically use less energy than your stove and keep heat out of the house, reducing costly strain on your AC. Better still: Upgrade to induction cooking — it's the most-efficient way to cook.
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Fill Your Fridge
The fuller the fridge, the less open space your fridge needs to cool, which means it can run more efficiently. Save electricity (and money!) by filling empty space in your fridge or freezer with crumpled newspapers or full water bottles.
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Feed fresh kitchen scraps to a compost pile (no meats or oils, please — they could get stinky and attract pests). It's easy to get started with a small bin that you keep moist and mix the contents of about once a week. Then, after a few weeks, you'll have nutrient-rich compost to perk up your garden — and much less food waste in your trashcan.
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You don't always need to rely on synthetic chemicals to keep things clean. Scour cast-iron pans with salt to preserve seasoning and stock your pantry with the best natural cleaners: baking soda, lemon juice, white vinegar and club soda. And don't forget to turn off the tap while scrubbing dishes and to run the dishwasher only when it's full.