So, pals, we’re starting to wrap up Earth Month…but we wanted to keep this momentum going for the rest of the year (and our whole lives), too. The best part: we’re not alone in that quest! Later this week, Em will be dropping an IGTV that we shot in partnership with the awesome folks at Imperfect Foods and Mrs. Meyers Clean Day, where she’ll be sharing some easy tips or swaps you can make in your life to get you living a little greener every day.
But y’all, there were SO MANY GOOD TIP IDEAS – and so many things that I didn’t know that didn’t make it into the video – so I wanted to pull everything that I learned from these two brands over the past few weeks into one non-sponsored master list so we can all benefit from their knowledge in perpetuity. There are so many easy-breezy changes that you can make right now that can help make the world a little bit cleaner and less wasteful! OKAY, ENOUGH YAPPING FROM ME. Let’s learn!!!
In The Kitchen
Socially Distance Your Onions & Potatoes: Let’s start with an easy one, yeah? Keep these guys in separate cool, dark places to reduce your food waste.
Stand Up for Broccoli Stems: You can blend these into hummus OR thinly slice them and stir-fry them. My favorite hack, though: TURN THEM INTO PICKLES. Pro tip from a pickle/vinegar/fermented food-addict: use this NYT recipe and then get that extra fiber in your diet, pal!
Upcycle Your Coffee Grounds: Y’all, coffee grounds are one of the most commonly thrown-out food items in America!! Now that you’re in the know, you can turn your grounds into a DIY body scrub (#luxury – this 3 ingredient one looks lovely), food for your houseplants, a natural fridge deodorizer, or a helpful scrub to get burnt-on gunk off your pots and pans.
Switch to Biodegradable Trash Bags: Traditional bags can take centuries to decompose, which is obviously bad. And we’re super lucky now, because this is a totally easy switch you can make today that can make a huge difference! After doing some testing to find my new go-to brand, I would definitely recommend these kitchen-sized trash bags, which are just as strong and functional as my standard black plastic trash bags.
Turn Veggie Scraps into Stock: Oh hey, soup lovers. Try adding leek greens, scallion roots, fennel tops, and herb and mushroom stems to your vegetable stock. Start practicing now so you’ll be ready for Souptember, Crocktober, Novembroth, etc. You know, all the cool and normal holidays we celebrate here at EHD.
Store Herbs Like Flowers: Extend the life of herbs like parsley, mint, and cilantro by keeping them in a jar of water in the fridge. (And check out this full post on preventing all kinds of food waste if you want to get really in the weeds!)
But Give Basil a Vacation From the Fridge: Basil is a special exception because it does not like cold temperatures! To keep it fresher for longer, keep this one in a jar of water on your counter. (Bonus: it smells delightful.)
Get Scrappy with Herbs: But if any of your herbs are in danger of going to waste, try poaching them in oil to make an infused oil. You can also create an herb butter (very fancy) by letting butter soften before mixing with herbs. Here’s a great recipe for rosemary olive oil and here’s some herb butter ideas!
Eat More Plants: So uh, as it turns out, what we eat has a huge impact on our environmental footprint. Plant-focused meals take way less water/land/fuel to produce than animal-heavy ones, so if you’re able, try adding one plant-forward meal a week. (FWIW, Jess switched to a plant-based diet last year and Imperfect Foods delivers a ton of plant-based meats, cheeses, milks, etc. in addition to their veggies which has made her switch easier!)
Use Lemons to Get Rid of Smelly Hands: Okay, we’re getting a little niche here, but if you’ve squeezed out all the juice, you can use a lemon peel to get rid of any fragrant smells (think onions or garlic) that linger on your hands. Hit ’em with the peels, rinse them off, and you’ll be good as new.
Give New Life to Old Condiments: Don’t discard your almost-empty end condiments! Use leftover jarred mustard to whip up a vinaigrette or marinade some pork or chicken in your leftover pickle juice. (TBH I drink straight pickle juice after workouts because I don’t love bananas and it’s full of potassium and sodium, which helps me feel less sore!) In any case, get creative with those leftovers!!
Rethink Expiration Dates: This is your official sign from the universe to trust your eyes and nose. Confusion around expiration dates causes millions of pounds of waste every year. These dates are just an estimate of peak quality, and they don’t indicate when a food will become unsafe. You really can tell! You got this!
Teach Kids About Food Waste: Start them young, folks. This is the world’s cutest downloadable coloring book for a kid-friendly introduction to preventing food waste. (Also, fun for adults who find something really soothing about coloring in sweet illustrations of food. You know. Like me.)
Give Root Veggies a Haircut: You can keep your vegetables fresher for longer by removing the tops from beets, carrots, and radishes! (Since the tops are a water suck, they’ll make your veggies go bad faster.) But wait, there’s more: you can also use the beet tops how you’d use chard AND you can swap in carrot tops for parsley in recipes to mix things up. WHO KNEW?
Around the House
Upcycle Your Candle Tins: Once you’ve enjoyed your candles, empty the tins – there’s a great tutorial here – and turn them into planters, make-up brush storage, or a coin catch-all so you can empty out your pockets at the end of the day. (I love this soy lavender tin candle that’s only $4.49 and perfect for winding down before bed!)
Air Dry Your Clothes: I can hear the EHD heavens opening up and angels singing as I type this. Like, yeah, sure, you can save money and energy but I recently learned that the sun’s UV rays can help deodorize your clothing (!!!). So if you’re still, uh, let’s say…wearing the same sweatpants 5 days a week (definitely not a personal anecdote), maybe give them a rinse and then let those bad boys breathe outside for a second?
Use Lavender to Mothproof Clothing: No. more. mothballs!!! Try hanging dried lavender in your closet or drop some in your sweater drawer – it will perfume your clothing (so you won’t smell like a haunted house) AND it can repel moths without pesticides. WIN/WIN. (I actually scooped this scent sachet from Target after learning this! When I flew back to LA after 4 months on the east coast, I ended up discovering that some moths had moved into one of my closets. This tip was, in fact, a total lifesaver.)
Wash Your Clothes with Cold Water: Another hot topic on the site lately – washing machines. Here’s something WILD I just learned: 90% of the energy used by your washing machine actually goes to heating the water! Even switching a few loads a month to cold water can save a bunch of energy (and it’s nice for your clothes, too).
Outside the Home
Shop Secondhand: OH BABY, MY FAVORITE. We’re huge lovers of all things vintage here at EHD – if you’re confused on how to get started, I wrote a pretty comprehensive guide on how to find the best used furniture online near you!
Mulch Smarter to Prevent Weeds: To prevent weeds from overtaking your vegetable beds, you can mulch them with grass clippings or rhubarb leaves! It’s a super easy way to get extra life out of the things you already have while protecting your beloved lil’ veggie patch.
Turn Eggshells Into Planters: Give your eggshells a second life as a nursery. Fill them with potting soil and a veggie seed before placing them somewhere warm to sprout. Transplant them into a bed once they’re big enough. Plus, this is a super fun activity for the little ones 🙂
Start Composting: Ah, yes, the en vogue topic on the site right now. There are so many helpful composting tips in the comments on Em’s recent kitchen planning post! But if you want to get join in the composting fun, you can start a pile in your backyard, get a worm composting kit, grab a countertop composter (this one is pricy but awesome because it has no smell!), or find a curbside service near you. Fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells are great candidates for home compost!
It’s Not Just Earth Day: Sure, it’s great to really celebrate the earth once a year, but try to keep sustainability at the front of your mind every day. An easy way to help is by supporting your favorite local charity working to make our planet better and stronger. We were recently introduced to Edible Schoolyard through our upcoming partnership, which provides hands-on cooking and gardening education for kids (amazing!!), but we’d love to hear about your favorites, too!
Now, if you’ve learned something and have a second to spare, you can make an even BIGGER difference. Our old pals at Imperfect Foods & new pals at Mrs. Meyers Clean Day already donated $10,000 to Edible Schoolyard, but they’ll give an extra $1 for every post that includes one of these tips…so if you have any time today or tomorrow, grab your phone, shoot a quick photo, and tag @imperfectfoods and @mrsmeyerscleanday to raise funds a great cause. I can’t wait to share what Em created and THANKS to these brands for letting me hijack all their smart, thoughtful work so I could turn it into a post for my internet pals. ANY OTHER EASY TIPS? Let’s chat!
Opening Image Credits: Photo by Veronica Crawford | From: The Five Cooking Mistakes I’ve Been Making (As Told To Me By A Chef)