How I’m Saving the Planet (November Edition)
We are now entering one of my favorite months…November! Not only is it the month for giving thanks, it also happens to be the birth month of my baby brother and one of my best friends. So much to celebrate!
This time of year usually involves an increased amount of cooking and baking, especially since I have the honor of hosting Thanksgiving for my friends and family. With that in mind, I’m shifting the focus of my green goals to the kitchen!
Before we get to the new goals, a quick recap on the success of my October goals:
- I did not use a single Keurig pod this month! While I’ll admit, coffee out of the reusable Keurig filter didn’t taste nearly as good as the coffee from the disposable, prepackaged cups, it still did the job.
- I successfully made it through the month without ordering items online! Am I looking forward to making some online purchases this month — ashamedly, yes! But only when I feel it is the only option, or to support eco-friendly brands that I cannot purchase from locally.
- My paper/plastic use went down by more than 75% *this is an estimation, not completely accurate statistic*. This was by far the most challenging. On the very first day, I accidentally used the paper towel in my work’s bathroom out of pure habit, despite having my own hand towel sitting on the counter next to me. The rest of the month, I diligently remembered to use my towel at work. I occasionally used the “shake it off” method in public bathrooms without hand dryers. I didn’t use any paper towels or napkins at home. I carried my reusable cup, fork, napkin and straw around with me, and remembered to use them instead of the single use options the majority of the time.
I’ve been trying to maintain my September goals as well, but I’ve noticed myself slacking a bit the past few weeks. But hey, I never claim to be perfect… the goal here is progress, not perfection!
Now let’s get back to November…
I’ve noticed that when I cook just for myself, being sustainable is very manageable. It’s when hosting people that the challenge really kicks in. I call myself a domestic diva, but how can I be proud of this title if I’m being wasteful?
For this month, I’ve compiled a list of helpful tips to help decrease my waste in the kitchen.
- Happiness is homemade. And so is low waste. To avoid repurchasing of single use containers, I’m focusing on making products at home. Plus, it saves money and is usually healthier! Some easy things to make at home include: salad dressings, humus, salsa and granola. (PS- if you love pumpkin as much as I do, you have to make this pumpkin humus!)
- Tupperware goals. Tupperware can easily replace zip-lock bag use when marinating, storing leftovers, or packing a lunch. It’s one of the easiest switches you can make! I know plastic has become enemy #1, but there’s no need to throw out the plastic containers you already own — just get as much use as you can. Reusable is always better than single use!
- Thrift shopping for the win. I overheard this great idea to avoid using plastic-ware while also fancying up your holiday events. Buy plates from thrift or Goodwill stores! If you don’t have enough regular dishware, or don’t particularly like them for hosting (this is my case), get eclectic and buy some mismatched dishware for people to use at your gatherings. Yes, you’re going to have to do the dishes. But, for single living people like me who normally can’t justify using the dishwasher because it will take weeks to fill up, this sounds like a good excuse to put it to use.
- Mind your beeswax. I have a vivid memory of the copious amounts of foil and plastic wrap I used while cooking and baking up a storm last year. It’s so wasteful! This time, I will be prepared — reusable beeswax wrap can be used to cover food, silicone baking mats can be used to cover baking sheets for veggie roasting, and I might just buy a real, reusable turkey roasting pan (an investment in the environment and my future as top Thanksgiving chef).
- Bulking season. With all of the baking and unique dishes we create during this time of year, buying from bulk bins is such a great option (using reusable jars/bags of course!). Stores like Sprouts (my one true love) provide so many bulk items- cereals, grains, flours, sugars, nuts, beans, nut butter, trail mix…you name it! The extra benefit to this is when your recipe calls for “1/4 cup flax seed”, you can literally purchase that 1/4 cup without buying a whole bag of it that you’ll never use again.
I hope these tips come in handy for my fellow domestic divas (and domestic dudes). Cooking and baking for friends and family is how I show my love and appreciation, so it’s important that I continue to be low-waste in the process. This domestic diva is also saving the planet! Show how thankful you are for our beautiful planet by joining me on this journey!