Want to give the gift of green to your kitchen this holiday season? A green mindset over the holidays involves just a few simple changes; it's actually one of the easiest things to do. No, you don't need to completely overhaul your cooking routine or try to make all your favorite holiday treats vegan. Instead make a few small changes — here are 10 that are simple and effective.
1. Clean Green
This is a good rule to follow year-round, and not just during the holidays. It's smart for the health of your home and your family to use eco-friendly cleaning products, or even just baking soda and white vinegar for most of your cleaning needs. Plus, if you use DIY cleaners, you'll be able to save some money as well.
2. Don't Use Disposables
As tempting as it is to use plastic plates, cups, and utensils for holiday parties and large family gatherings, sticking to the dinnerware you can reuse will always be a greener option. If you have to use disposables, opt for ones that are made of recycled materials and can be recycled or composted after use.
3. Buy in Bulk
If you know you'll be baking a lot or making food gifts for many people this holiday season, plan your grocery or Costco trip strategically to buy ingredients in bulk. Not only will you cut down on the packaging used by buying bigger containers, but one big trip is better than many small trips to restock. And if you aren't buying things that are perishable, you'll be able to use them throughout the next year.
4. Compost Your Scraps
You'll likely be peeling a lot of potatoes, squash, and root vegetables this holiday season, but instead of putting all the scraps in the trash, try composting them. Not only will you cut down on what goes into the landfill, but you'll also help future crops or public spaces be healthier next spring. If you don't have space for a composter of your own, the Environmental Protection Agency has a tool to help you find a program in your area.
5. Skip the Silver Polish
If you're bringing out the silver for holiday gatherings, skip the bottle of chemical-filled silver polish and head to the shelf with your baking ingredients instead — you just need some baking soda, salt, and white vinegar (along with a little elbow grease). Use this tutorial to polish your silver the eco-friendly way.
6. Use Glass, Not Plastic
Whenever possible, choose glass containers over plastic. They are safe for the microwave and easily recyclable. They also won't get scratched up (and leech chemicals) from use. Plus, if you're hosting a party or dinner, encourage friends to bring a container or two for leftovers so you don't have to stock up on disposable plastic containers that you won't get back.
7. Send Party Invites Electronically
Yes, there's something classic about a paper invite, but for a holiday party, nothing beats the ease (and eco-friendliness) of a digital invite. We love Paperless Post, Red Stamp, and Pingg for sending beautifully designed cards and invitations via email.
8. Cut Down on Paper Towels
Paper towels are one of the biggest eco-offenders in the kitchen, but also one of the easiest to remedy. We love using a surprising replacement for cleaning up spills or drying your hands: cloth diapers.
Read More: The Best Kitchen Towels Aren't Actually Kitchen Towels (or Even Towels)
9. Shop Thrift Stores for Kitchen Gadgets or Serving Pieces
Before you rush out to buy a new platter or loaf pan, check your local thrift or second-hand store to see if they have the item you're looking for. You can find plenty of great deals on kitchen goods — especially fun glassware — and you'll have a better story to tell if you find something really beautiful or unusual.
10. Stock (and Give) Local Wine and Beer
The best part of throwing a holiday party is stocking the bar. One easy way to cut down on your carbon footprint is to buy wine, beer, and even spirits from local companies. Not only will you be supporting businesses in your community, but you'll also be going green by cutting down on how far your booze has to travel. The same goes for the wine you bring to friends' holiday parties. Shop as local as you can.
(Image credits: Lantliv; Coco Morante; Emma Christensen; Erika Tracy; Christine Gallary)