eco-friendly kitchen: Buy local produce

How can I make my home eco-friendly? KITCHEN

This is a series of articles on how to make your home more eco-friendly room by room, read the other articles here:

How can I make my home eco-friendly? BATHROOM
Eco-friendly home: Energy, Lights, and Reusables.
Get rid of stuff in an eco-friendly way
Eco-friendly home: Bedroom, Home office, Miscellaneous

If you are on a budget, I also have a list of 20 actions that you can take that will save the plant and save you money at the same time.

Have you decided to make your home more eco-friendly? Congratulations! This is the first step on a lifelong exciting journey. I feel like this is never completely done and there will always be ways to improve and change. The world changes every day, and every day there are new technologies, new improvements to adapt to your eco-routines. The best start is to create an eco-friendly kitchen, followed by other rooms of the house.

To make your home more eco-friendly, you can take it room by room. The most impact will be probably done in the kitchen, so let’s start there. Some of the best actions to take are to add a worm bin to your house, reduce waste that you bring to your house as food packaging, start buying your food in bulk and with no packaging, eat less meat and dairy, and add (or improve) recycling to your routine.

Pace yourself, and don’t be too strict on yourself. You will need to add certain items or activities to your routine. The hardest part might be to find a way of how to safely discard of old items without sending them to a landfill.

Eco-friendly kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of every home. You can impact a lot in the kitchen, and I would dare to say it is where we can impact the most in our house. If I were to suggest to green only one room, it would definitely be the kitchen. This article assumes your waste management is done or at least is started in the kitchen. Moreover, I include eating, shopping, and cooking habits in the kitchen.

If you want to learn more about what does it mean to be eco-friendly, check out this article where I cover everything from the product stages, materials, to certifications, and much more.


Identify your trash

To prepare your eco-friendly kitchen, we should first talk about the trash in your house. There is so much trash you can eliminate from your life. You can go from a bag a day to a bag a week. I am an example of this change. Before you start anything, inspect your trash, what is it that you throw away the most? Is it food waste, food packaging, take-out containers? Think of ways how to eliminate the categories that take up most of your trash. I will help you with this in this article

Get a worm bin / vermicomposter

Difficulty to implement: Medium
Impact: High

If you did the exercise from the previous paragraph, you realized that more than 50% of all home waste is food waste: food peels, food scraps, or spoiled foods. If you get a worm bin, you can reduce this percentage substantially. Almost all the vegetable and fruit waste will go to the bin instead of landfills. You can feed the bin fresh vegetable and fruit peels and scraps (no dressings, oils, or salt added), some people will feed it some cooked foods like bread or pasta in smaller quantities. You cannot feed the bin animal products like meat or dairy. 

Getting the worm bin must be the number one way to reduce your trash. Most of the food that you would put in the trash will now go to the worm bin, and it will be converted into rich soil called hummus, that you can later use to put in your house plants.

If you live in an apartment, as we do, you can still easily do this. Having and caring for a vermicomposter is easy, and after the initial set up, it does not require much work.

I have written a full article on the worm bin in an apartment. A complete guide for beginners, where you can learn everything about it. Read it here! Get your bin now!

Don’t waste food, learn how to preserve it

eco-friendly kitchen: preserving food

Difficulty to implement: Easy-Medium
Impact: High

Much of the food than usual households waste is food that went bad before even using it: rotten fruits, veggies, or meats and dairy, dried out, or molded bread. Plan your grocery shopping in a way, that you have time to use everything before it goes bad. If you buy in bigger quantity for any reason, decide whether you can preserve the food by freezing, preserving fruit as jams or preserves, dehydrating fruits or vegetables, fermenting vegetables, making sauces, and preserving them, etc. There are so many ways!

Eat fewer animal products, or become vegetarian/vegan

Difficulty to implement: Easy-Medium
Impact: High

This is always a controversial topic that has many supporters and many adversaries. I believe that aminal farming is one of the contributing factors to climate change, pollution, unequal resource distribution, soil damage, and many other adverse effects.

The dairy and meat industries produce the most pollution (greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution) from all the industries, even more than all the transportation together. Apart from pollution, there are many other problems caused by animal farming. According to The Guardian, Animal farms take up 83% of farmland, producing only 18% of calories.

To learn more about this topic read this article: Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth.

If you are not ready to give up meat or dairy completely, try to add plant-based foods to your inventory as much as possible, and gradually reduce your meat consumption. Learn new recipes and try Meatless Mondays. Later, go further and don’t eat meat during the weekdays. Any effort will count, but hopefully, you won’t just stop on Meatless Mondays. 

Plant-based cooking is delicious, exciting, and fun once you discover new flavors and recipes and go beyond the salad bar. Many cuisines are very open to plant-based foods. Most Asian cuisines use tofu, tempeh, or other protein that is not animal-based and have many dishes that are originally plant-based and really tasty.

Buy in bulk, without packaging

Eco-friendly kitchen: food storage

Difficulty to implement: Easy
Impact: High

This simple step will reduce your waste significantly. Its always better to avoid packaging or waste, before having to recycle it. Recycling should be the last option. For us, this means we stopped going to the supermarket altogether. We only go to the farmers market and bulk shop.

If this is possible in your area, find a store that will sell most items in bulk and without packaging. I have 2 stores in the nearby area that sell all the basic ingredients by weight and with no packaging.

This means bringing your own containers to fill them with whatever you need. Alternatively, you can use paper bags to pack the foods, and you recycle the bags (or throw in the worm bin if you have one).

If you are lucky, you will be able to buy most foods here: grains and flours, cereal, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, pasta, rice, spices, coffee, tea and herbal tea, sugar and salt, oils, vinegar, snacks, and even detergents, toilet paper, and others, all with no packaging. 

Before we had these specialized stores in the area, there were other traditional shops, that sell nuts, seeds, and other products by weight and with options to package in your own containers or paper bags. Search in your area for the available options.


Difficulty to implement: Easy
Impact: Medium

As mentioned before, it is actually more important to reduce your waste, than recycle. If you don’t bring waste to your home, you don’t need to recycle it. But to be real, we will always have some waste at our homes. Recycling starts when shopping. If you need to purchase anything with packaging, review whether you can recycle that packaging before buying. Also, any item that you purchase, you should always think of how will you dispose of it at the end of its lifecycle.

I hope you are already recycling at least part of your waste. The basic items to recycle are glass, cans, paper, cardboard, and some plastic containers. But there are specialized facilities that will recycle many other items. 

According to the EPA, it can be difficult for consumers to understand what materials can be recycled, how materials can be recycled, and where to recycle different materials. This confusion often leads to placing recyclables in the trash or throwing trash in the recycling bin or cart.

Here, we are able to recycle most of the plastic containers (according to the number on the container), furniture, batteries, electronics, old clothes and shoes, used kitchen oils, polystyrene, food containers, and many more materials. But, we had to research where and how to recycle all of them, so I suggest you do the same. Take the time to research what is possible and how to recycle in your locality and implement a recycling routine into your activities.

Make things from scratch

Difficulty to implement: Easy
Impact: Medium

In order to avoid bringing unnecessary packaging to your home, there are many things you can easily make at home from scratch. This way you use your own containers and the ingredient you bought at the bulk shop. I make my own bread, peanut butter, tahini, hummus, sauerkraut, yogurt, jams, plant-based milk, pesto, dressings, sauces, ketchup, mayonnaise, and even vinegar for cleaning surfaces, etc. I avoid all of the containers for these foods, and I control what exact ingredient goes into my food. 

Buy local and seasonal groceries

Difficulty to implement: Easy
Impact: Medium

Add as much local and seasonal produce and groceries as possible. The more local and seasonal food you buy, the less transport was used to take it from the origin to your plate, and less carbon dioxide was produced because of that. I have read that the average produces has to travel 1500 miles from production to the place it is consumed! Look for a nearby farmers market and see what they have to offer!

Grow your own food

My balcony garden

Difficulty to implement: Medium – Hard
Impact: Low – Medium

This one will depend on where you live. I live in an apartment, I am still growing food on my windows and balcony, mostly tomatoes and herbs. I can make only a low impact because at my scale it is more of a hobby than really being able to provide food for my family. If you have a big yard and you are willing to put in the effort and time, you can produce much of your own food. 

This way, you control what goes into growing your food and into your soil. You probably won’t use toxic fertilizers and pesticides. Organically growing your own food is sustainable and nourishes your soil by using safe and natural fertilizers. You can use hummus that you made in your worm bin. By growing your own food you are avoiding any transport of the foods from producer to your home, therefore reducing carbon emissions and waste in the form of food packaging.

Use more pressure cooker

Difficulty to implement: Easy
Impact: Low

The high pressure in the cooker limits boiling and permits cooking at very high temperatures, well above 212 °F (100 °C). This means the cooking time will be greatly shortened. Manufacturers claim up to 70% of energy savings. The cooker itself will last for decades. This way you are saving energy and resources. You can prepare many meals in the cooker: legumes, meats, soups, etc.

Clean up the cleaning products

Difficulty to implement: Easy
Impact: Low

There are many options on the market to green your cleaning supplies. In my house, there are basically 3 cleaning products. I use the biodegradable dish soap that I buy in bulk in my own container to wash the dishes, but also to clean anything else I might need. We also buy biodegradable laundry detergent in bulk. And I brew a citrus vinegar at home that I use for cleaning surfaces and floors.

Moreover, I switched from a plastic sponge to luffa. Luffa is a plant from the cucumber family, that is cultivated and eaten as a vegetable in countries like China, India, or Vietnam. To eat the plant, you need to harvest it very young because as it grows, it gets more and more fibrous. The fully mature plant is used as a sponge in the kitchen or the bathroom. It’s renewable and it’s compostable, I toss it in the worm bin after it is no longer usable.

Another option in to get a set of non- plastic cleaning brushes for pots, pans, bottles and vegetables and fruits. Brushes are entirely made of compostable materials, that can be safely discarded at the end of the life cycle. Usually, these brushes will be made of bamboo, wood, and coconut fibers.

Some other small actions to implement

No coffee pods

Stop making coffee in coffee pods. Millions of pods go to landfills every year and most are not recyclable. Either invest in reusable pods or switch to a coffee maker that uses filters or other systems that do not require pods. I am using the Moka pot that does not generate any waste, and the coffee grinds go to my worm bin.

Switch to cloth napkins, and cloth kitchen towels

This simple action will eliminate single-use paper from your house. It is very easy to make your own cloth napkins and towels, or you can purchase them and forget about paper napkins forever.

Use dishwasher on full load, don’t pre-rinse

To lower your water usage, don’t pre-rinse your dishes unless very necessary and run the dishwasher only with a full load.

No water bottles

Stop buying bottled water for your house or your outings. Install a good water filter in your kitchen and you will never need to send another bottle to recycling or landfill again. 

Brew your tea

As with coffee if you switch to brewing the loose leaf tea, you will eliminate all the waste that comes in with tea bags, the leaves can be put in the worm bin after use.

Avoid take-out

Cook at home. Take-outs generate a lot of unnecessary food containers, that are usually not even recyclable because they are made of polystyrene or mixed plastics.

There are many other small actions that you could take, I can’t possible write about all of them, but after reading this article I hope you get it. And I hope you get inspired to implement many of these steps yourself!

For more impact in your house read other articles from the series:
How can I make my home eco-friendly? BATHROOM
Eco-friendly home: Energy, Lights, and Reusables.
Get rid of stuff in an eco-friendly way
Eco-friendly home: Bedroom, Home office, Miscellaneous