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10 Things to Make Your Kitchen Greener

10 Things to Make Your Kitchen Greener


Simple and easy things to reduce your environmental impact

Here are 10 simple and easy purchases that will make your kitchen greener.

Finding time to make smart choices in the kitchen can be hard. Busy schedules and responsibilities will inevitably put more time consuming projects at the bottom of the list. Everybody would like to make choices that reduce their impact on the environment, but sometimes those decisions require time and research that is not always available. To make some of your decisions easier, we have compiled a list of 10 things to make your kitchen greener.

10 Things to Make Your Kitchen Greener (Slideshow)

Doing your part for the environment is easier than you think. There are affordable, household tools and equipment that have less environmental impact than others. Instead of using plastic or paper bags for school or work lunches that are either non-reusable or non-biodegradable, try a stainless steel lunch box.

Certain polycarbonate products, in particular the ones used to manufacture tupperware, are known to contain a chemical called BPA. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, these chemicals can leach into foods and be absorbed into the body. If you are concerned about chemical bi-products making their way into your food, try one of these BPA-free tupperware sets.

It's always smart to start small. There are everyday purchases that have less of an impact on the environment in their manufacturing that you can easily swap out for generic brands. Many household products are manufactured with or contain the abrasive chemical chlorine bleach.

For those concerned about the negative impacts of using abrasive synthetic chemicals or products that use those chemicals in their manufacture, try purchasing coffee filters made from recycled materials or buying cheesecloth that doesn't use bleach. There are many practical solutions to help you "green" your kitchen that doesn't require tons of research and headaches. Click on the slideshow for quick and easy solutions that are good for both you and the environment.


7 Ways to Make Your Kitchen More Eco-Friendly

Every year I try to take additional steps to becoming more eco-friendly and green in my life. Our homes are one of the few places we can really have control over when it comes to sustainable products and practices. Being eco-wise is about celebrating innovation, being good residents to our landlord Earth, and passing on our knowledge to others, especially the younger generations. There are lots of small things we can do in our homes to reduce landfill waste, preserve our forests, and clean the air and water. Here are 7 easy, cheap, green options for your kitchen that do not require expensive changes like buying new appliances or replacing your entire space. Choose a couple to focus on that you are not already doing and make them a habit, then repeat.

The Facts:

Plastic can remain in the environment for over 1,000 years before starting to decompose. Since most plastics aren’t biodegradable, as they break down they get ingested by our wildlife and make their way into our water sources. As a result, we are eating a credit card’s worth of plastic each week and 90% of the water we drink has microplastics.

Currently, deforestation leads to almost 50 percent more greenhouse gases than the world’s entire transportation sector and one of the leading causes of deforestation is the wood pulp industry. Wood pulp is used to create paper products and certain textiles like rayon. Our forests are critical to stabilizing our climate and converting carbon.

It is amazing how many chemicals we are sending down the drain everyday. The most common agents are soaps, detergents and surface cleaners each of which can have 30+ chemicals in them that make their way into our water system. Even in communities that have water treatment plants, small quantities of chemicals will still make their way into lakes, rivers and oceans causing chronic harm. For example, the phosphates in dishwashing detergent has a fertilizing effect, stimulating algae growth which reduces the oxygen levels in the water and therefore biodiversity. Many cleaners have surfactants in them which, when introduced to our water, results in plants and animals being able to absorb pollutants more easily.

This is just a small drop in the bucket of “reasons to go green” but I hope you are as inspired as I am to kick it into gear.


10 Natural Fertilizer Recipes

    • BANANA PEELS – Eating a banana helps replenish lost potassium. Roses love potassium too. Simply throw one or two peels in the hole before planting or bury peels under mulch so they can compost naturally. Get bigger and more blooms. I also use banana peels on my vegetables. See more pictures and get many more recipes and tips in this eBook.
    • COFFEE GROUNDS – Acid-loving plants such as tomatoes, blueberries, roses and azaleas may get a jolt out of coffee grounds mixed into the soil. But more likely it’s the nitrogen that helps. Sprinkled on top of the ground before watering or pour a liquid version on top of the soil. If using as a soil drench, soak 6 cups of coffee grounds in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Let it sit for 2-3 days and then saturate the soil around your plants.
    • EGG SHELLS – Wash them first, then crush. Work the shell pieces into the soil near tomatoes and peppers. The calcium helps fend off blossom end rot. Eggshells are 93% calcium carbonate, the same ingredient as lime, a tried and true soil amendment! I use eggshells in my homemade potting mix. This gives me healthy, beautiful fruits fit for seed saving. Get the 7 Secrets to Saving Tomato Seed in the Home Garden.
      • MY FAVORITE – WORM CASTINGS – Make your own worm tea -it’s easy. Start with a handful of red wiggler worms and set them up with some tasty cardboard and kitchen scraps. Learn how. I started about 8 years ago and haven’t stopped since. Check out our video on composting with worms to see how easy it is to make this amazing fertilizer!
      Get the “ Ultimate Collection of EASY, ORGANIC Recipes for Edible Gardens using FREE and Recycled Materials”

      There is no other reference out there that covers as many materials and techniques under one cover.”

      Learn how to recycle weeds, seashells, beer grains and more to improve your soil, save money and grow organic vegetables, herbs and fruit. This 230-page eBook profiles many natural materials found inside and outside your home that can benefit your garden. Find out which edibles to use them on, why they might work, and at what stage in the growth cycle they are most effective.

      Discover why some fertilizers fail to give you results. You won’t apply the wrong nutrient at the wrong time again! Also get important warnings so you and your plants stay healthy.

      Recycle these materials and more into organic fertilizers and soil amendments:
      Alfalfa, banana peels, beans, beer (spent grains), borage, borax, comfrey, coffee grounds, compost, cover crops and green manures, crustacean shells, egg shells, Epsom salt, fish, grass, hair, leaves, manure (chicken, cow, goat, horse, rabbit, sheep), milk, nut shells, pet food, pine needles and straw, rainwater, rock dust, seaweed an kelp, urine (warnings too), weeds, wood and plant ashes and worm castings.

      Purchase the PDF version and get an instant link to download the file. This eBook consistently rates in the the top 5 on all of Amazon in the West Region for all Gardening and Horticulture eBooks! All proceeds go to school garden programs! Purchase here as a .PDF instant download using PayPal’s secure checkout!.

      “I am so happy I purchased this book. I am a kids’ gardening teacher and a busy mother of 2. I got the kindle version and now I quickly search through it every time I get stuck with a problem in my garden or at a school’s. It always comes up with very good easy to implement suggestions and saves the day! Recommend it BIG TIME!”

      “I throw so much stuff away everyday, now I can use a lot of it to make my soil better & fertilize my veggies! I like how the book is organized with lots of great information up front & then for each recipe it explains why it works, which plants will benefit from it, what to combine with it& how to make it several ways. It’s go a lot to work with. Any ideas for houseplants? Please write a book on homemade fertilizers for houseplants!”

      “I was thinking of starting a garden this year and have never had very good luck before. I got some great ideas that I can’t wait to try.”

      “These are some really “down to earth” ways to fertilize! I got some great ideas and since I don’t consider myself having a green thumb, this gave me a little boost in confidence that I can do this too! I would recommend this to any beginner or advanced gardener!”


      6 Ways to Make Your Kitchen More Cheerful

      While defined styles have a checklist of features&mdashlike an apron sink and wooden accents for a farmhouse kitchen&mdashdesigning for a specific vibe is more subjective. What inspires cheer for one home chef may be off-putting for another.

      But given how much time we spend in the kitchen, especially now when everyone in the family is working and schooling from home, we can all agree: the space should bring you joy. To make that happen, mix and match from IKEA to create a warm and cheerful atmosphere. The best part? These easy, painless tweaks don&rsquot require any major overhaul.

      There are a lot of ways to add color to your kitchen beyond painting the walls. You can swap out cabinet fronts &mdash IKEA has door and drawer fronts in forest green and glossy blue &mdash or add a contrasting backsplash in a warm shade. The double-sided LYSEKIL wall panel comes in four finishes, including a yellow stripe and warm brass.

      For a fun and flexible use of color, opt for open shelving to store and display dishes of all colors. IKEA sells plates, bowls, and serveware in every hue&mdashsage green, millennial pink, turquoise, wine red, navy blue&mdashso pick your favorite and swap when the mood strikes.

      Accent decor is another versatile way to add color without the commitment of paint or cabinetry. Textiles like dish towels and pot holders on hooks, a punchy table cloth, or bright chair cushions add joy and personality.

      The right lighting is crucial in the kitchen, both for practicality and aesthetics. You want to avoid casting awkward shadows or creating dark corners, so you&rsquoll need a combination of ambient and task lighting. Instead of one central ceiling fixture, opt for a series of pendants over areas like an island or eat-in table, and track lighting that can be directed at different work areas.

      And make sure you use the correct light bulbs. Cooler, brighter bulbs (which have a higher kelvin and lumens count) will make your kitchen feel clinical, so choose ones with a lower kelvin range of 2,700 to 4,000 for warmer light.

      If your kitchen is blessed with abundant windows, give them a good wash (screens and curtains as well) to make sure they&rsquore letting in as much light as possible, and then add window treatments to lend a cheerful vibe. Sheer curtains gently filter light&mdashIKEA makes air purification curtains that are great for the kitchen&mdashbut if your window is over the sink or close to the stove, consider a pleated shade or slatted blind for a similar effect.

      It&rsquos a proven fact: Nature makes people happy. And the kitchen is the perfect place to start a windowsill garden. If you have a south-facing window with ample sunlight, consider a small herb or vegetable container garden. If you aren&rsquot totally confident in your green thumb abilities, start with a few low-maintenance plants, like bamboo, a ZZ plant, or cacti.


      Reuse in the kitchen

      Food storage

      When it comes time to store leftovers it’s important to use sustainable food storage, and glass and stainless steel are two good options.

      Glass

      Glass containers such as Pyrex and Glasslock are certainly among the best options available. Glass is a long lasting material and is microwave and oven safe.

      In our home, we use this set of Pyrex storage containers daily. My favorite part about using these glass food storage containers is that you can cook your meal in them and then throw the lid on and stick the leftovers in the fridge for later. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

      Stainless steel

      Another great option is stainless steel. Stainless steel has the benefit of not breaking when dropped like glass containers do. (When I was 16 my mom baked my favorite cake in a glass pan. We took it to the park for a party and it got knocked off the table. Glass went everywhere and the cake was ruined. If it had been in a stainless steel pan, we still could have eaten it.)

      Stainless steel containers are also completely recyclable. If they get bent out of shape you can take them to your nearest scrap yard and they’ll pay you for the metal.

      Another great benefit of stainless steel containers is they can be set right on your stove top to heat up leftovers.

      Plastic perhaps?

      We are big fans of Preserve products which are almost all made from recycled #5 plastic. Preserve products are microwave safe, dishwasher safe, BPA free, and when you’re done with them they can be sent back to Preserve to be recycled. Image Credit: Preserve Products (Instagram)

      If you can’t find a glass or stainless steel container for your food, there are plastic options that are better than others. We are big fans of Preserve products which are almost all made from recycled #5 plastic. Preserve products are microwave safe, dishwasher safe, BPA free, and when you’re done with them they can be sent back to Preserve to be recycled.

      One last thing before we jump in to the recycling section. If you aren’t already, start using reusable shopping bags, preferably the canvas or fabric type rather than the plastic ones as there’s no recycling solution available for the large, reusable plastic bags.


      104 Things You Can Make with Your KitchenAid Stand Mixer

      Get it!

      The KitchenAid stand mixer has become such a popular wedding present that some joke the city hall clerk hands you one along with your marriage license. And for good reason: The mixer helps home cooks and bakers make an incredible range of foods. From pavlova to fresh pasta to orange juice to carrot cake , the sky is truly the limit with the KitchenAid mixer .

      Did you know that KitchenAid celebrated its 100th anniversary just a couple of years ago, and that Williams Sonoma was the first retailer ever to sell their iconic mixer? As Chuck Williams, the founder of Williams Sonoma said, “The mixer was sold only to restaurants, and then only through commercial outlets.”

      With its 10 speeds and five quart capacity, the mixer—which has been made in Greenville, Ohio, USA since 1941—is ideal for both little and big family events, weeknight cooking and weekend projects. (Want to make 9 dozen cookies, then throw the bowl in the dishwasher? No problem.)

      Stumped as to how to put that mixer and all those wonderful attachments to good use? Here are 104 ideas to get you started.


      All green on the home front

      Reduce your washing
      Erin Rhoads’ Waste Not Everyday (Hardie Grant Books, £10) points out that “the majority of the environmental burden caused by fashion happens after we take the clothing home: 82% of the energy a garment will use is in the washing and drying we do each week”. Rhoads suggests spot-cleaning, and neutralising smells with a spritz of diluted vodka or lemon juice.

      Clean with castile
      By making cleaning products (from polish to detergent) you can reduce the amount of plastic entering your home and the level of harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds), such as formaldehyde, that are released. “Of all the green cleaning ingredients I use, liquid castile soap is by far my favourite,” writes Jen Chillingsworth in Clean Green (Quadrille, £7.55). “Originating from Spain, castile soap was traditionally made with pure olive oil, but is now more commonly produced by mixing vegetable oils such as hemp, avocado, jojoba and coconut.” For a simple, multipurpose kitchen spray, add 50ml of castile soap to 800ml tap water in a spray bottle. Add a few drops of essential oils (tea tree is antibacterial). Spray and wipe with a clean cloth.

      Go for plastic-free personal care
      There is a world of waste-free sanitary protection to explore, and Chillingsworth suggests buying a reusable tampon applicator. “The reusable version fits every size of tampon, is antimicrobial and easy to insert. After use, give it a wipe, rinse and return to the storage box that fits in your handbag. Sterilise in hot water between periods.”

      Recycle as much as you can
      “Most major supermarkets provide plastic recycling collection points in store for stretchy plastic (such as frozen food bags, carrier bags and bread bags) which normally can’t be recycled from home,” says Helen Bird, plastics expert at government waste advisory body Wrap.

      TerraCycle rescues hard-to-recycle waste that is not processed by councils. It has free national recycling programmes and also sells zero-waste boxes, which you can fill with most non-hazardous, non-recyclable and non-organic waste, and return for recycling. Search its website for a scheme near you, or set one up.

      Look after your electrical appliances
      The Restart Project is a social enterprise that aims to fix our relationship with electricals and electronics. Cofounder Janet Gunter says the first step in keeping household appliances for longer is regular cleaning. “By simply cleaning and maintaining your white goods, laptop or mobile, you will prolong its life.” Restart runs a nationwide network of skill-sharing workshops as well as promoting a directory of commercial repair options in London. (See also repaircafe.org for events in your area.) “If we don’t have access to spare parts,” says Gunter, “these appliances will be thrown away, which has a huge carbon impact.”

      If your electrical appliance really is beyond repair, Rhoads suggests you “call the manufacturer or company of purchase to see if they will take back items or packaging for reuse or recycling”. Not all charity shops accept electrical items, but the homelessness charity Emmaus accepts working items. These are tested before being resold, which makes it a good place to purchase secondhand electrical goods, too.

      Create clean air
      “You can never have enough house plants,” says Oliver Heath, who runs a sustainable architecture practice. Certain plants are best for certain rooms: “Mother-in-law’s tongue gives off oxygen at night, which makes it best suited to the bedroom.” According to Chillingsworth, peace lilies and boston ferns thrive in rooms with high humidity and can reduce the mould spores in the air, making them ideal for bathrooms weeping figs have been found to be the best plant for removing formaldehyde released from carpets and furniture, making them good for living areas.

      Change your shower head
      “Investing in an aerated shower head will make a significant difference to energy and water consumption,” says Brian Horne at the Energy Saving Trust (EST). They inject air into the water stream, limiting water usage. “A water-efficient shower head could save a four-person household £70 a year on gas for water heating, and a further £115 on water bills if they have a meter,” says Horne.

      Opt for green energy suppliers
      There are “shades of green” when it comes to choosing an energy supplier, says Horne. The EST identified four suppliers who clearly listed the renewable sources of their energy on their websites last year: Green Energy UK, Good Energy, Ecotricity and Octopus Energy. “But just because you’re on a green tariff, it doesn’t mean you should stop worrying about how much energy you use,” says Horne.

      Practise eco-driving
      Research by the RAC Foundation has found that eco-driving leads to safer, cleaner and more affordable journeys. Regular vehicle maintenance improves fuel efficiency by as much as 10%. Before a long journey, check tyre pressures (tyres underinflated by a quarter can cause a 2% increase in fuel consumption), remove unused roof racks and boxes, and don’t overload the car (every additional 45kg reduces fuel economy by 2%). At less than 40mph, it’s more fuel-efficient to open a window than use air conditioning. Turn off engines for waits of more than one minute (5-8% of fuel is consumed while idling), and avoid sharp acceleration and heavy braking: aggressive driving can significantly raise fuel consumption.

      Draught-proof your home
      One of the cheapest, most effective ways to save energy and money at home is to draught-proof windows, doors, letterbox, fireplaces and loft hatches, says Dr Sarah Price, head of building physics at Enhabit, a consultancy specialising in low-energy design. Done professionally, it costs about £200, or do it yourself with products such as Gap Seal.

      Buy vintage furniture
      “Reusing furniture is the best thing to do, and so much more fun than buying new,” says Nicola Harding, founder of interior design studio Harding and Read. “Secondhand items come with interesting stories and force you to think creatively, and give you have something far more unique.” To keep mileage down, start at your local auction houses and charity shops (the British Heart Foundation has dedicated home stores and a free collection service), followed by a targeted trawl through Freecycle and Facebook Marketplace.

      Optimise your white goods
      According to independent energy comparison service U Switch, the cost of running your fridge and freezer equates to about 7% of your total energy bill (they are one of the few household energy devices that are on all the time). U Switch recommends replacing your fridge and/or freezer if it is over 10 years old. Even if it’s working, the cost of a new model will be made up for in energy savings over the years. Keep your fridge at 5C or less (most are kept at about 7C, which means food will go off sooner) and ensure there is a 10cm gap behind your fridge to let heat flow away easily. Make sure the seal is strong – if it can’t hold a piece of paper when shut, it could be letting in warm air, making it work harder.


      50 Things in Your Kitchen to Get Rid Of Right Now

      Imagine how blissful it will feel to reach into decluttered cabinets!

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      From Trash to Treasure

      The kitchen is easily the most lived-in room in the house. It&rsquos where food is prepared, shared and stored, but it also serves as the meeting place for family and friends. Achievements are fastened to fridges, homework is completed at its counters, debates are held at its tables &mdash it&rsquos the lifeforce of the house. So, it&rsquos no wonder our kitchens are overrun with stuff and the residue of those experiences.

      Here are a few ways to help you separate the treasures from the trash and keep your favorite room in the house decluttered and in tiptop working order.

      Mildewed Kitchen Sponge

      Those squishy sponges you use to scrub your dishes clean are leading a double life &mdash as a sanitizer and haven for nasty microbes &mdash which is why your kitchen sponge has a shelf life of about one to two weeks. In the meantime, you can sanitize your sponge in the top rack of your dishwasher.

      Scratched Nonstick Pans

      The glossy coating that keeps omelets from sticking and stir-fries stirring eventually starts to break down. As soon as the gloss is gone, or a dreaded scratch appears, it&rsquos time to toss the pan. After all, no one wants their food stuck to the bottom of the pan.

      To keep your pans like new longer, avoid using metal tools on them. If you stack your pans in the cupboard, place a protective sheet of paper towel in between them to prevent scratches.

      Lost-Container Lids

      Lidless Tupperware falls under the useless category. A storage container that can no longer stow has no business cluttering precious cabinet space. Much like the missing sock mate situation, the Tupperware/lid mystery may not be solvable either, except to discard those useless containers.

      BPA Plastic Containers

      BPA, or bisphenol, is an industrial chemical used in plastics and resins. Worries that the chemical can seep into food and drink has pushed manufacturers to produce more and more BPA-free products. So, while you&rsquore pairing your food containers with their lids, go ahead and toss out any old containers with recycle codes 3, 6 and 7 that might contain the toxic chemical.

      Leaky or Lidless Travel Mugs

      Leaky mugs, lidless travel cups &mdash they all need to go. Edit your collection down to your favorite one or two travel mugs and you won&rsquot have to sift through the noncontenders each morning.

      Broken Blenders, Mix-less Mixers, Oh My!

      We may be calling out the broken blender, but we are looking at you, too, hand mixer with no beaters and waffle iron that no longer crisps. Get rid of all those small appliances that have outlived their usefulness. Honestly, if you haven't fixed 'em by now, it's not going to happen.

      Sprouted, Shriveled Potatoes

      The best place to store potatoes is in a cool, dark place. Unfortunately, that means potatoes are often forgotten until found shriveled and rotten in the back of your pantry. Don&rsquot be a victim of pungent gases from rotten potatoes. Designate a basket for your light-sensitive root vegetables that can be easily checked for spoilage.

      Old Spices and Herbs

      Have you looked in your spice cabinet lately? When&rsquos the last time you reached for the fenugreek? It may be time to clean out and refresh old spices and herbs. Like anything else in your kitchen, spices and dried herbs have a "best by" date. They might not mold, but they will start to lose their potency &mdash about three years for whole spices, two years for ground, and one to two years for dried herbs.

      Rancid Cooking Oils

      On a whim, you reach for the dusty, sticky bottle of canola oil in the back of your pantry you&rsquore going to make brownies. Unfortunately, that tackiness on the outside of the bottle is a bad omen for what&rsquos on the inside: metallic-smelling, rancid oil.

      Fruit and vegetable oils are particularly susceptible to spoilage. The less saturated the fat, the faster the oil will turn. Keep the very sensitive ones, like walnut and toasted sesame oils, in the fridge to extend their shelf life. After opening, expect most oils, like olive oil and canola, to last six months if stored properly in a cool, dark place.

      Past-Their-Prime Pantry Staples

      Pasta, rice, flour and all your other favorite grains eventually go bad. Check expiration dates or give it a good sniff to check for that rancid oil smell. Storing your rice, flour and pasta in airtight containers, rather than their opened boxes and bags, will help keep your dry goods fresher longer.

      Dried pasta typically lasts up to two years (whole grain up to six months). Brown rice lasts up to one year white rice is closer to two years. All-purpose flour lasts about one year.

      Expired Baking Powder

      Nothing is worse than working all day on a baking project only for it to fall flat because your chemical leaven of choice, baking powder, is past its prime. Throw out opened baking powder after one year. But if you need to do a quick spot check, drop some in warm water. If it activates and bubbles vigorously, then it&rsquos good to use.

      Over-the-Hill Beer

      Maybe your eyes were bigger than your beer belly when you shopped for that party in July. Now you need to either drink or ditch that extra beer on the verge of spoilage. In the pantry, beer will last six to nine months in the fridge, it's good for six months to two years.

      Canned Goods

      Canned foods are safe to eat indefinitely, says the USDA, so long as they are not dented, bulging or exposed to freezing temperatures or those above 90 degrees F. But that doesn't mean they will always taste great. For the best flavor and quality, follow these guidelines:

      High-Acid Canned Foods (tomatoes, fruit): Up to one-and-a-half years at room temperature

      Low-Acid Canned Foods (chicken broth, beans, vegetables, meats): Up to five years at room temperature

      Liquor with a Shelf Life

      High-proof alcohol will last what feels like indefinitely, but other items on your drink cart should be stored properly and tossed more frequently.

      Specifically, noncreamy liqueurs spoil more easily than plain spirits, so toss after one year or when you detect discoloration, crystallization or odor. Keep creamy liqueurs in the fridge for up to six months after opening, but check the bottle for an official expiration date. Bitters last for years, even after opening, so hang on to those.

      Coffee Beans

      If you can&rsquot remember the last time you reached for that bag of coffee, it&rsquos best to toss it. Whole or ground beans in a vacuum-packed bag will last up to four months, unopened, on the counter and up to one week once opened. In a can, whole or ground beans will last one year unoepened and one week once opened.

      Rancid Peanut Butter

      Peanut butter lingering on the shelves isn&rsquot likely to happen in most houses, but just in case, remember to throw out peanut butter that has been sitting for more than three months. Just like other oils, the unsaturated fat in peanut butter will quickly turn rancid and bitter.

      Opened Jars of Tomato Sauce

      Tomato sauce is often the last-minute dinner saving grace. But, once opened, tomato sauce has a surprisingly short shelf life. Store it in the fridge for five to seven days, then that jar has got to go.

      Stale Snack Foods

      The bag of chips you reached for once and banished to the back of the pantry is so stale it&rsquos destined for the trash. Prevent these lost snacks by designating an opened snack basket in the front of your pantry, easy for all hungry parties to find.

      Expired Condiments

      Check your condiments, particularly those one-off items you bought for a recipe a year ago and never touched again. If you see separation, off-color or odor, it is best to throw those sauces out. (The same goes for salad dressings.)

      Forgotten Leftovers

      If you can&rsquot remember eating it the first time, it's probably safe to assume you shouldn&rsquot be eating it a second time. Leftovers pushed to the back of the fridge are lost to the trash in the end. Try dating your containers and using a FIFO (first in, first out) system to keep track of leftovers.

      Opened Stocks and Broths

      Prepared stocks last only up to four days in the fridge. Go ahead and throw out any past-date stock. Going forward, freeze leftover broths and stocks in ice cube trays, then store in airtight bags to increase the shelf life.

      Freezer-Burned Food

      Freezer burn isn&rsquot just something you can brush off your food. It&rsquos damage caused by dehydration and oxidation when food isn&rsquot properly wrapped and stored in the freezer.

      And while the USDA deems freezer burn no risk to your health, it&rsquos probably safe to assume that the chicken, peas, ice cream or steak that fell victim to your freezer&rsquos icy ways won&rsquot taste all that great.

      Some tips to prevent freezer burn include wrapping items tightly in plastic wrap and then storing in an airtight container, taking extra care to push out all the air from freezer bags, and cooling hot foods to room temperature before storing those foods in an airtight container in the freezer.

      Maxed-Out Baking Soda Air Freshener

      Don&rsquot want your food stored in your refrigerator to smell like, well, the fridge? Placing a box of odor-absorbent baking soda on a shelf will do the trick. But just as all good things must come to an end, the baking soda&rsquos stench-removal powers will last only so long &mdash about three months. Take the guesswork out of this one by writing the date on the box each time you replace your odor absorber.

      Past-Due Water Filter

      Pitchers with built-in water filters are great for providing your family with purified water without relying on bottled water, but don&rsquot forget to replace old filters every 40 gallons or so.

      Chipped and Stained Bowls, Cups and Plates

      Do you have an abundance of dishware and glassware? Then it&rsquos probably time to toss out that chipped beer glass from college. Also, consider losing any stained mugs or cracked cereal bowls from the rotation.

      Pressureless Fire Extinguisher

      Most manufacturers give a shelf life of anywhere from five to 15 years for fire extinguishers. That&rsquos a huge range! How can you be sure yours will put out the fire when you need it most? Set a reminder to check your equipment monthly. Make sure the tamper seal is on the extinguisher, that it's holding the pin in firmly, and that it hasn't been damaged. Also, make sure the extinguisher is full just by weighing it/lifting it.

      Expired Disinfectants

      We rely on cleaning products to keep our kitchen safe and sanitized. But those cleaning products that keep last night&rsquos chicken from contaminating this morning&rsquos fruit bowl eventually lose their effectiveness. Date your bottles so you know when to replace them. Most antibacterial products last about one year multipurpose cleaners without antibacterials can last up to two years.

      Takeaway Menus

      Yes, we used to keep drawers of takeaway menus, but now, with online delivery services and menus, this paper trail is virtually (pun intended) obsolete. However, if your favorite place still takes call-in orders, or you just like to have a physical menu on hand, consider whittling down your collection to only those restaurants you&rsquove ordered from in the past six months.

      Old Sauce Packets

      The drive-thru sauces packets &mdash it always feels wrong to throw them out, doesn&rsquot it? That is, until you have a drawer full of mystery sauces. Declutter. Dump anything that looks off and limit yourself to just one small jar of sauce packets for on-the-go meals .

      Mismatched Flatware

      It&rsquos time to adult. Rather than surviving on stolen spoons and mismatched flatware, invest in a good-quality, dishwasher safe set that can go from every day to dinner party without you rifling through the drawer to find four matching forks.

      Stained Dish Towels and Holey Oven Mitts

      It&rsquos time to take stock of that dish towel collection. Consider the danger of grabbing a hot pan only to find your oven mitt has a gaping hole in the thumb. Stained, ripped or torn towels and oven mitts should be tossed.

      Cracked Wooden Spoons

      Over time, wooden spoons lose their moisture and crack, and those cracks become home to bacteria. Since nobody wants to stir their dinner stew with a bacteria-rich spoon, it&rsquos safer to just replace those tools. The same rule applies to wooden cutting boards.

      Warped Cutting Boards

      For plastic cutting boards, which are easier to disinfect, the greatest tell that your board has run its course is warping. Eventually, enough hot rinses will cause your cutting board to bow. A bowed cutting board isn&rsquot easily secured with a counter grip or towel, and it becomes a dangerous item on which to cut. Toss it.

      Old Rubber Spatulas

      Rubber spatulas are the great workhorse utensil in the kitchen &mdash perfect for folding batters, stirring together sauces and even spreading frosting. But all that wear and tear adds up to cracked spatulas, which can become home to bacteria, but also the dried rubber can start to flake off into food. Check and replace your spatulas as needed.

      Broken Drawer Organizers

      Even drawer organizers don&rsquot last forever. If you find your silverware caddy breaking down or you&rsquove outgrown that gadget drawer organizer, then there is really no need to hang on to a failing system.

      Pans You Don’t Use

      We&rsquove all done it: invested in the 10- or 12-piece (or more!) cookware set only to discover we use two, maybe three, of the pans on a day-to-day basis. Rather than throw out those pans (because you will need them for the next holiday cooking extravaganza), instead relocate those unused pans to a hall closet or shelf in the garage.

      Overflowing Plastic Bag Stash

      The stash of plastic bags is a well-intended effort to not just toss another plastic shopping bag into the landfill. But those intentions have turned into an unmanageable collection of bags. Instead, invest in some reusable shopping bags and keep them in the trunk of your car, so you are never caught shopping without them. Look for recycling centers and grocery stores that accept plastic bag recycling, as the bags usually don't go in with the regular plastics.

      Half-Burned Candles

      Those half-burned dinner candles from last week&rsquos dinner party are just taking up space in the drawer. Melt them down to make votives or toss to make way for a fresh set.

      Magnets That Don’t Work

      Don&rsquot use your fridge as a wall of advertisements, particularly if those cheap magnets can&rsquot even hold a simple grocery list on the fridge. Throw out the clutter.

      Kitchenware Gifts You Don’t Use

      Don&rsquot hang on any gadget, platter or serving utensil just because it was a gift. If you haven&rsquot used the item in years, consider donating it.

      Un-Sharp Can Opener

      Ever found yourself muscling through to open that can of corn with a very dull can opener? Toss it immediately so you never find yourself disappointed by that can opener again.

      Baby Utensils You No Longer Need

      If your kids are out of their booster chairs and strolling into middle school, you can probably toss the Toy Story plates and Barbie sippy cups.

      Unitaskers That Clutter

      Avocado knives, butter dispenser, apple slicer, hot dog slicer, strawberry slicer, egg slicer . so many one-note slicers. If you&rsquove fallen prey to these drawer-cluttering unitaskers in the past, ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" Is an avocado knife better than a chef&rsquos knife and spoon combo?

      Rusty Bakeware

      Any cook would agree: Good tools makes for easier work. And while we wouldn&rsquot suggest you haphazardly start throwing out bakeware, anything that&rsquos starting to rust is better not cooked in.

      Expired Batteries

      The junk drawer, where batteries go to die. Rather than play Russian roulette each time you need a battery, buy a small collection of fresh batteries and recycle or dispose of them properly when they&rsquove reached their expiration date. Pay a little more for the lithium batteries, as their shelf life is about five to 10 years longer than alkaline.

      Takeout Chopsticks

      Have you ever noticed you always end up with way more takeout chopsticks than people? Consider this, if you order Chinese takeout once a week, and receive one extra pair per order, by the end of the year you&rsquoll have 52 pairs of chopsticks in your drawer &mdash that&rsquos way too many. For your next order make sure you check off the "no utensils" box.

      Dried-Up Pens and Markers

      You don&rsquot need a drawer full of markers and pens to run an effective kitchen &mdash just a one or two of each will get the job done. Then, keep them in a designated pen holder so you aren&rsquot searching around every time you want to label some leftovers.

      Fridge Note Clutter

      Clearing out the front of your fridge is the fastest way to provide at least the illusion of a tidy kitchen. Keep only the necessities on there, like a running grocery list, a dinner party prep list or the latest drawing from your kid.

      Old Vitamins and Medicine

      Don&rsquot let your medicine and first-aid kits grow out of control. Keep all medical supplies in one area of the kitchen. Check expiration dates and toss past-due pills and prescriptions. Then, inventory any first-aid supplies so bandages, burn cream and antibiotics are easy to find when you need them.

      Unused Cookbooks

      There are cookbooks with cracked spines and sticky pages that are a testament to just how beloved they are, and then there are pristine, barely read cookbooks in every kitchen. Once a year, take stock of the books you use and the books you don&rsquot. Give away or move out of the kitchen any cookbooks you don&rsquot cook from to make way for more-useful items.


      10 Ways to Reset Your Kitchen for the New Year

      Every January I clear the decks from the madness of the holiday season. All of the cookie-baking, latke-frying, and meat-roasting is work, after all, and even though I diligently clean as I go, this busy season takes a toll. For me, clearing the decks means putting away the cake stands, bundt pans, and the big roasting tray. I do the usual kitchen deep clean, but there are a few other ways I like to really start the year fresh — and they have nothing to do with the things I’m cooking or eating.

      Snap on a pair of dishwashing gloves and tackle these 10 ways to show your kitchen some love to help it recover from a busy season. This is the kind of cleaning to ensure you’re ready for whatever cooking adventures the new year brings.

      1. Scour your pots and pans.

      Yes, I’m actually telling you to scrub your dishes when you haven’t cooked anything in them — and we’re talking the kind of work that requires elbow grease. Even when well-washed with dish soap, frequently used stainless pots and pans get patches — especially along the sides, edges, and exteriors, where cooked on fats tend to stubbornly cling.

      Steel wool can scratch, so instead pick up a non-abrasive sponge and a mildly abrasive product like Bar Keeper’s Friend, Bon Ami, or baking soda, and get in there for a thorough scrub. Did you have a serious cranberry sauce disaster? Here’s how to rescue a stainless pan with a burnt-on stain. Enamel Dutch oven take a beating? Try this. Cast iron looking dried out? Here’s the plan. Even if these tasks make for a lot of work, the results are fantastic because your pots and pans really will look brand-new for the new year.

      Scour Away!

      • How To Clean Tough Burnt Stains Off Stainless Cookware
      • How to Clean Stainless Steel Pots and Pans
      • How To Clean Burnt Stains off Enameled Cookware
      • How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

      2. Clean or change your stove vent fan filter.

      Whether you have a fancy range hood or the classic apartment vent fan that blows exhaust directly into your face, it could use a fresh start. The good news is that a fresh start requires little more than a kettle of hot water, a dish brush, and some soap. If you don’t remember the last time the filter was changed, it’s probably worth picking up a new one at your local hardware store or online. Check your owner’s manual. If you’re in a rental and there’s no manual to be found, look up into the range hood there’s likely a sticker to tell you the serial number of the filter you’ll need.

      3. Clean your oven.

      Whether sputtering grease from a Christmas goose, overflowing pie filling, or bubbling green bean casserole, there is likely something spilled onto the floor of your oven right now. You can, if your oven has this option, run the oven cleaning cycle, but that’s not always a great idea. Instead, use a combination method that pairs a solvent and some scrubbing. Pick up some all-natural grill and oven cleaner, baking soda and vinegar, or — in really tough cases — ammonia.

      Give Your Oven Some Lovin’

      4. Treat your wooden tools.

      Think of this as massage time for some of your most beautiful and beloved kitchen workhorses: your wooden spoons, cutting boards, and wooden-handled knives. Wash them by hand and towel dry them thoroughly then apply mineral oil or, in dire cases, equal parts mineral oil and food-grade beeswax, melted together and allowed to cool until thickened. Rub either into the edges of your boards and tools and allow them to sit overnight. Buff any excess oil or balm away with a fresh towel the next day and your tools will be glossy, smooth, and ready for anything.

      Treat It Right

      5. Deal with your drawers & edit your tool collection.

      The drawers closest to the kitchen counter tend to catch crumbs, and pulling everything out to clean them is a great chance to assess your kitchen tools. Before you return things to the drawer, be honest with yourself about the last time you used them.

      Chances are that the pastry blender, julienne peeler, candy thermometer, and cherry pitter probably don’t need to be in your most easily accessible storage space. There’s nothing wrong with storing these occasionally used tools elsewhere — even out of the kitchen. Garlic press you never use? Duplicates of anything? Donate them. Your drawers will be less cluttered and your tools will be more of a pleasure to use.

      6. Change your water filter.

      The first week of the year is a great one for updating things that need to be done periodically, like replacing the filter in your water pitcher, and giving the pitcher itself a thorough wash. Recycle the old filter, get a new one going, and set a reminder on your calendar to do it again in three months.

      7. Clean or replace dishwashing tools.

      Freshen your scrub brush with a trip through the dishwasher, or soak the bristle end in distilled white vinegar for an hour or two and then hang to dry. While you’re at it, boil your dish rags and then wash and dry them as usual. If you’re still on team sponge, this is not the time to microwave. Get a fresh one and resolve to squeeze it dry after each use. No matter what kind of dishwashing tools you use, assess them honestly and replace them if it’s time. Having a clean slate is a great incentive to keep things nice beyond January.


      Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home!

      Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation , heart health , mental wellbeing , fitness goals , nutritional needs , allergies , gut health, and more ! Dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne , hormonal imbalance , cancer , prostate cancer and has many side effects .

      For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet .

      Here are some great resources to get you started:

      For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter ! Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!