Now that the bedroom is clean, it’s time to tackle my second favorite place in the home: the kitchen. Two environmental concerns that automatically come to my mind here are food waste and household cleaners. It just seems natural to throw our food scraps away in the garbage and to buy whichever cleaning product is on sale at Target right? But being more conscious here can help the planet and your personal health significantly. Again, I have a summary below on how to make subtle changes to your lifestyle with minimal effort so the earth can thank you.
- Fast Fact: About 40% of our food supply is wasted and ends up in landfills. (Remember, textiles is 5% of our landfill so I’ve already covered almost half of what goes into our landfill that we can easily fix!) It’s a common misconception that your food waste will biodegrade at the landfill. It will not biodegrade because when it’s combined with other waste, it decomposes without oxygen and releases methane gas, which is known to be a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
- Easy Solutions: Compost! Compost! Compost! This is the best way to get rid of some of your food or food scraps without contributing to the landfill. Composting is simply the act of decomposing organic matter to be used as a soil conditioner. I’m hoping to do a detailed post about composting, but this is a good resource to start. Basically, you take your veggie and fruit scraps (no meat or bones!) and mix it with some dry leaves or paper and water to create an environment for it to decompose in. If you live in NYC, you might live near a curbside compost collection, or you can conveniently drop off your compost in a public space on designated days. Check here to see if your neighborhood has a curbside collection and check here for a map of local drop off and dates.
- Fun SUS Tip: Get creative and clear out your fridge/pantry by making something with what you already have. If all goes well, this could be a skill to impress your friends.
- SUS Results: Besides the obvious result of decreasing the amount of methane and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we will also be less dependent on the use of pesticides. Compost is added to soil to enrich it without the use of pesticides, creating this nice natural cycle of life. Imagine composting your potato skins to be used to grow more potatoes! That’s trippy, but I’m so down with pesticide-free food.
- Future SUS Tip: Only buy what you need for the week. Buying in bulk may be appropriate large families, but do you and your one roommate really need a box of 50 granola bars? It really depends on your lifestyle and budget, but wasting food is equivalent to wasting money and none of us got time for that.
- Fast Fact: Lysol products contain ingredients that could cause respiratory issues. Some products even have a precautionary warning label that reads, “Hazardous to humans and domestic animals,” which according to the EPA, means even the slightest results of toxicity occurred.
- Easy Solutions: Create your own easy household cleaners or buy products that use plant-based ingredients. As some of you might have been able to tell, I really like Mrs. Meyers products so that’s usually my go‑to brand. Bronner’s is also another great option. I mean they are as natural as natural can get in the household cleaner world. From the ingredients to the packaging, they are certified fair-trade, organic, recyclable, pet-friendly, and one bottle of their castile soap can be used in 18 or more ways.
- Fun SUS Tip: Is it just me, or are essential oils really trendy now? You can use them for a variety of things besides aromatherapy, like adding your favorite scents to your homemade cleaner. I sense (haha) some DIY projects coming soon…
- SUS Results: You’ll have better piece of mind knowing your clean home was cleaned with ingredients you can trust and pronounce. I think we’re seeing a shift in consumerism where there’s a higher awareness of what goes into our products. Food is the top one; more people are paying closer attention to what enters their bodies and it’s starting to expand to where our clothes come from, what we slather on our skin, and how we clean our home.
- Future SUS Tip: Use reusable cloths instead of disposable paper towels. My favorite are these microfiber cleaning cloths that clean up almost anything and can be easily washed and used again.
After adopting these practices into my home, I’ve seen a significant difference in the amount of trash I have. It just goes to show that most of our trash is food. There’s something so satisfying to me when I throw my food scraps into the compost bin, knowing that it’s going to be used for the parks in my city. I also had problems breathing whenever I used Lysol or Windex or products that weren’t natural. Easily swapping out products made such a huge difference and now I don’t hold my nose up when I wipe the counters. Seriously though, who wants their home smelling like an airport restroom? Go green, go natural, go (sus)tainable.