April 11, 2011 in Features

Do Your Part: Recycling makes difference in kitchen

Terri Bennett McClatchy Newspapers
 

We know that the heart of the home is in the kitchen. So, what better place to set up your own green headquarters?

Going green at home means creating a healthier environment for your family. When you do your part you’ll have your loved ones eating better, breathing easier and reducing their impact on the planet.

One of my most effective ways of getting the whole family involved in recycling is the mobile recycling center I stash in the corner of the kitchen. OK, it’s really a laundry cart on wheels, but it does the trick and is easy on the eyes.

There are three compartments that make it super simple to collect nonfood items for recycling. I use one compartment to store all my reusable shopping bags.

Since it’s on wheels, I move it from room to room to collect items that might not otherwise make it to the recycling bin. It’s the perfect chore for younger members of the family because it teaches them about all the items that can be recycled into something new.

Recycling is one way to go green in the kitchen. Reducing waste and reusing items are others.

Packing waste-free lunches should be on every mom’s list. Putting lunch items in reusable containers (including reusable juice “boxes”) helps cut down on waste. Think about all the single-use items you could avoid: plastic baggies, snack bags, paper napkins, and plastic utensils.

Paper towels are another single-use item responsible for a lot of waste in most kitchens. Try doing without them for a week and you’ll see how easy it is.

Instead of grabbing one on your way to the garbage, keep reusable dishtowels and cloth napkins handy in a drawer. You’ll use fewer resources laundering them than what it takes to produce roll after roll of paper towels.

Next up: those toxic cocktails you have sitting under the sink. Things like chemical cleaners, bug killers and air fresheners can actually pollute your home with toxins that are known to cause asthma and other serious health problems.

These days it’s easy to find effective and totally nontoxic products to help you clean every dirty job or remove any pest or odor from your home. You can also make your own cleaners and air fresheners using two of my favorite staples: baking soda and white vinegar.

Of course, we can’t forget the food when considering ways to go green in a kitchen. If you don’t have the room or time for a full-fledged garden, consider planting a small container with your favorite herbs or small veggies.

Or you can support a local farm and receive freshly picked produce in exchange by joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Visit www.spokanetilth.com /INCSAA.html to find one near you.

It really doesn’t have to take extra time or money to do your part at home. There are many ways you can make an even bigger difference – right from the comfort of your kitchen.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, syndicated columnist and host of DoYourPart.com. Send questions to terri@doyourpart.com.


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