When we considered how to make our little college apartment more sustainable, we quickly turned to the kitchen, where we spend most of our time. The kitchen is full of opportunities to be eco-friendly, so here are our top picks for sustainable kitchen life.
“Don’t weaponize your lettuce” is a phrase we heard several times sitting in on a Composting 101 class with Brent Crampton, a sustainability consultant with Hillside Solutions in Omaha, NE. What does that phrase mean? When people throw away their unused or soiled food into the trash, like lettuce, it could take 25 years until it is fully decomposed (NPR). Within those 25 long years, the head of lettuce releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas contributing to climate change and the greenhouse gas effect. An innocent head of lettuce then turns into a weapon of destruction against the climate.
But there is a way to “de-weaponize” that head of lettuce- composting! Composting seems intimidating at first, at least for us it was. What type of container do we need? How do we keep it from smelling? Where will we put the container in our tiny apartment? These are all valid questions that went through our heads as we planned our adventure into the composting world. But as we listened to Brent during the Composting 101 class, we learned it is actually very easy, especially if you live in the Omaha, NE area. Hillside Solutions offers Compost Club, where members pay a monthly fee and are able to drop off their compostable material in conveniently located drop off areas. From there the compostable material is taken to the Soil Dynamics Farm in Ashland, NE, where it is composted into fertile soil. Members are able to then get soil back each month for use in their plants and gardens. This crosses out the worries of where to put your compost, and your roommates will thank you for not smelling up the apartment!
The night after our composting class, we drove ourselves to Lowe’s and got a basic five gallon bucket with a lid. We lined the bucket with compostable trash bags and placed it in our supply closet. Every week we fill the bucket with compostable materials like banana peels, egg shells, avocado skins, napkins, and scraps of cardboard. At the end of each week we then take our compost bucket to the closest drop-off location, where we empty it in one of Hillside Solution’s bins and start the process all over again!
Composting can be easy when you live in a big city like Omaha and have Hillside Solutions to help out. But if you live in a small town, it can look a little different. Utilizing that unused corner of your backyard is a good starting point for composting, as well as reaching out to friends and community gardens that might compost. Composting takes very little effort and is extremely helpful to the environment. Plus, you will get fresh and fertile soil you can use to help your plants grow strong and make your lawn the best on the block! To learn more about how to compost, you can click here.
REUSE- a key word that can help the environment in a big way. Plastic bags and plastic wrap hit the hardest when it comes to pollution. Plus, it takes up to 500 years for plastic bags to decompose in landfills (Center for Biological Diversity). To help curb plastic pollution, we’ve adopted the use of reusable bags and bees wax wraps to store food.
Reusable storage bags like the ones pictured above are great additions to any kitchen. We use ours to take food to work and store any leftovers. They are easy to open and the seal is excellent compared to those of plastic storage bags. To clean, simply rinse with soap and water and place on a cup to air dry! What we love most about these reusable bags is that once they reach the end of their useful life, they are recyclable!
Another reusable item we have in our kitchen is bees wax wraps to replace plastic wrap. Ours is made of cotton fabric, beeswax, tree resin, and Jojoba oil, making them all natural and compostable! The ones pictured below come in three different sizes to fit all of your containers. Using the wraps is convenient and simple and won’t leave you frustrated about cutting a piece too little for the container.
Up next we have our Swedish dish cloths! We love using these because they are more durable than flimsy single use paper towels and they come in so many charming designs. Swedish dish cloths are also biodegradable and compostable, so cleaning the bathroom or kitchen is waste free! After we use them to clean we throw them in the hamper and wash them like the rest of our towels.
In all, we believe small changes can make a big difference in saving our Earth. Altering your daily habits to ones that better the environment can be as easy as ordering reusable bags or signing up for your local Compost Club. Going eco-friendly doesn’t have to be difficult or scary, it can actually be pretty fun!
Landfill Of Lettuce: Why Were These Greens Tossed Before Their Time? by Allison Aubrey from NPR
The Problem with Plastic Bags by The Center for Biological Diversity