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10 Easy, Eco-Friendly Pantry Ideas

Get more for your money—and do your part for the planet—with these healthy, kitchen maintenance habits.

Glass storage jars for an eco-friendly pantry
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Everyone wants to keep their kitchen clean and stock a healthy pantry that offers nourishing food options year-round. You already do so much for your family’s health. But could you also pay some kitchen attention to maintaining an eco-friendly pantry?

1)  Smarten Your Storage

Whenever possible, use glass containers, including Mason jars, to store spices, grains, and other pantry staples. The clear containers will show you when you’re running low. Plastic food storage containers are a good second choices, though plastics are always less desirable from a planetary perspective.

2)  Extend Your Produce’s Shelf Life

Storage isn’t just about choosing the right containers. Produce like root vegetables, potatoes, and apples will last longer if they’re stored at cool, dark places where exposure to light won’t hasten their breakdown process. Apples, for example, can last up to three months if stored properly!

3)  Manage Storage Temperatures

Some foods, like tomatoes, should never be refrigerated, while others, like cucumbers, stay fresh longer if they’re stored in cold temps. Knowing where each food is happiest—spices should be stored away from direct light and heat, for example—will help use your powered-up cooling appliances to their maximum benefit.

4)  Clean Up Your Cleaning Products

Most kitchen cleaning chores can be handled without harsh chemicals that come in plastic containers and put eco-unfriendly particles into the air and near your food. Seek out simple cleaning solution “recipes,” like mixing baking soda with white vinegar to make a foamy paste to scrub counters, sinks, and stovetops. Lemon juice, essential oils, and even coarse sea salt for scrubbing can clean out your cleaning routine.

5)  Grow and Shop Local

Whenever possible, grow your own vegetables or frequent your local farmer’s market to minimize the distance your food travels from soil to plate.

6)  Shop in Bulk

Most grocers will allow you to fill your own reusable containers with bulk items. This serves two eco-friendly purposes. It allows you to buy just what you need, and it saves you from buying new plastic containers for nuts, dried fruits, and grains.

7)  Re-Purpose Your Scraps

Vegetable peels, tea bags (check to make sure your brand doesn’t contain plastic), coffee grounds, and other food scraps can be repurposed in two main ways. If you have a yard or town pick-up service, compost them so you can invest today’s scraps in tomorrow’s gardens. And try saving vegetable peels like zucchini, carrots, or corncobs for the vegetable stock-pot.

8)  Put Excess Water to Work

Collect water you’ve used to rinse or steam your veggies in a large bowl or tub for use watering plants, indoors or out. Just cool the water first and feel great that you’re feeding your plants with vitamin-augmented H2O!

9)  Sharpen Your Knife Skills

Grocery stores offer pre-cut vegetables, which is a wonderful innovation for the short-on-time among us. But if you are able, buying a whole butternut squash, for example, will save you both money and plastic—and your produce will last longer if you’re not cooking it immediately.

10) Share with Your Local Food Pantry

A quick web search or phone call can put you in touch with your local food pantry. Learn what they need most and seek out items in your pantry that are near-expiration or that you aren’t likely to use in the near future. You’ll be reducing your waste and feeding your neighbors at one go!

READ MORE: 10 Ways to Observe a Green Lent

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