For the Two Junes, making our cooking life more sustainable is an on-going process. Sure, energy and water-efficient appliances are great, but simply modifying daily habits can make a big impact. Cooking requires a significant amount of water and energy and generates both trash and food waste. The good news is that since we tend to make and consume most of our meals at home, we have pretty very clear view of our environmental impact and, bit by bit, day by day, can work on minimizing our “footprint”. Some green habits have been easy to adopt—standard recycling of plastic, metal and glass and the reuse of plastic containers for homemade dog food or chicken stock. Composting vegetable scraps, egg shells and coffee grounds is a no-brainer since we garden—although finding a rat-proof compost bin was a challenge and our worms may be jittery from all that caffeine!
But other habits are harder to change. We’re getting better, thanks to a strategically stack of clean kitchen towels, but giving up paper towels has been really hard. Lisa in particular has a very un-PC devotion to a certain unnamed brand of paper towels (virgin fiber and bleached, but, oh, so sturdy and absorbent.) Going forward in baby steps, TwoJunes are now switching over to 100% recycled paper towels for certain jobs like blotting or draining. This switch alone, if widely adopted, could save millions of trees, reduce energy costs as well as decreasing landfill space and the use of harmful chemicals. See the Green Seal report (PDF) on paper products for great information on how to make the best choices.
Using cloth towels instead of paper towels caused a chain reaction (for the better) in our household, because we stopped using dryer sheets—it’s just plain weird to lay out vegetables to dry on a heavily-fragranced towel that’s been coated with something that makes the water bead-up and stay on the surface. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets are by their very nature composed of some pretty powerful chemical compounds and masking fragrances that are not environmentally-friendly to people or food. No loss there…
We’re still puzzling out how to wean ourselves off plastic wrap, another convenient material that doesn’t have an easy substitute beyond plastic (or glass) storage containers with lids. We tend to reuse pieces if we can, but the best alternative may be getting creative with what’s on hand when our stash finally runs out. We do already reuse plastic food storage bags as many times as possible and re-purpose plastic produce bags. For some great info on safe plastics, check out this report from the Washington Toxics Coalition.
In celebration of Earth Day, we’d like to offer a few tips for making kitchen life a little greener and would love to hear what choices you have made and what tactics work well in your kitchens.
Next week, how we started making our own stock and why we can never go back.
- Baby Steps to a Green Kitchen Trying to step more lightly on the earth is a daunting task, but we do believe that small, seemingly insignificant actions can make a major, positive impact. TwoJunes offer up the following four categories of practical choices that have either already made it into our daily routine or are gradually being adopted.
Lisa Bell is a freelance producer, writer and editor. She spent the first fifteen years of her working life as a pastry chef, recipe developer, test kitchen director, food stylist and print editor. She has also taught cooking classes, run a small cooking school, and worked as a food scientist. Nicole Rees currently works as a baking scientist. She is also a food writer and cookbook author specializing in baking science. Her most recent book Baking Unplugged, is filled with simple, scratch recipes that require no electric gadgets beyond an oven.