Additional Green Kitchen Ideas
Banana skins can have a second life, rather than ending up in the trash. Take them to your garden and bury in the soil around your roses. The Scotch rose is especially fond of the nutritious minerals these skins have to offer.
Citrus rinds (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit) can be torn down into small pieces and run with cold water through your sink's garbage disposal. The rinds have just the right texture to help clean the disposal blades, and the refreshing citrus fragrance in the kitchen is an extra bonus!
Coffee grounds can also help enrich garden soil. Rather than tossing in the trash where they become messy and stale, work the grounds into garden soil where they can add safe fertilizing acids for plant growth.
Growing up on the farm, my sisters and I learned from our father to always “save juice.”  That was Dad’s way of saying, “Don’t waste electricity and learn to conserve.”  Here are several ways to do that in your kitchen.

Oven heat is easily wasted with improper baking.  Arrange pans in an oven so that air can circulate between, to promote faster and more even baking.  Check progress by turning on the oven light rather than opening the door.  Set the timer to help you gauge time as well.

Stove top cooking energy loss can be prevented by matching burner size to pan size.  This prevents heat loss and also keeps handles from absorbing heat that can create burns.  Promptly turning off burners and ovens when finished prevent heat loss and fire hazards.

Refrigerator doors need to be kept closed as much as possible to prevent energy loss.  Thinking ahead and removing multiple items reduces cold air loss and helps food spoilage.  A temperature of 40 degrees are less is needed for safe food storage.

Dishwashers should only be run when they are full.  Setting the machine on an energy saver setting reduces washing time, water, and electricity.
Composting….To keep your home “GREEN”

Did you know that the average American kitchen disposes of 200 pounds of kitchen waste a year???  Those pounds often go to the landfill where it is estimated that 24% of that trash consists of kitchen scraps and lawn clippings.

Composting is the way to go.  This method of recycling kitchen and garden waste provides you with mulch and natural fertilizer that saves you money while relieving our landfills.  You may already have a compost container in your yard, and now many companies are designing clever and attractive compost pails for kitchens to save you constant trips outdoors as you prepare food.  Look for them in hardware stores, kitchen shops, or online.

These are food wastes that are great to add to your compost containers:  Scraps and peelings or rinds of any fruit or vegetable, coffee grounds, teabags, and crushed eggshells (make those empty shells).

Foods that you will not want to add to compost include:  All meats and fat, bones, dairy products, oils, or foods with high oil content like salad dressings and peanut butter.
These are foods that tend to smell bad, attract pests, or are very slow to break down.
Saving While Shopping…..

Preparing food means trips to the grocery store.  We are all learning that fewer trips to the store save precious fuel for the car.  But, another important “green” step is to take your own bags.

A recent estimate stated that 380 billion plastic bags are discarded in the United States each year.  Less than 1% are recycled, and the rest go into landfills and in the wild.  With the increase cost of fuels and plastic production the dollars in waste soar from careless American habits.

Most of our stores sell cloth recycling bags for less than a dollar, and many also credit the shopper with 5 cents for each bag they bring to tote home their purchases.  Your cloth bag pays for itself quickly if you use it!  Some stores are beginning to actually charge 5 cents a bag to discourage plastic bag use.  An added feature to cloth bag use is that they are stronger and not as likely to break before your food makes the trip back to your kitchen.  A recent up grade from some grocery stores is the insulated cloth bag, to keep your food temperature safe as well.  It all adds up to more money in your pocket and less trashing of your environment!
Paper products for the kitchen, saving money and the environment too!

It would be really difficult for any of us to give up our dependency on paper products in the kitchen.  They are definitely giant helpers in providing us with storage, convenience, sanitation, and mobility of food.  But, we do have options to make our choices more environmentally friendly.  Here are a few things I have discovered that have become part of my personal kitchen collection of disposable paper products.

A company that originates in Finland called If You Care produces a line of very good products that are inexpensive as well as earth friendly.  Their line includes:  pre-cut parchment paper, large baking cups (for cupcakes & muffins), coffee filters, and recycled aluminum foil.  Their paper products are all made of unbleached paper, which means there is no chlorine in the papers to leach into the soil or water after they go to the landfill.  In addition, they are non-toxic when incinerated.  These papers are low in cost and come in a natural tan color rather than white.

Another company from Sacramento, California is called Natural Value.  Their products include a very reliable and inexpensive natural waxed paper, which again is unbleached and will perform as well as any bleached paper.  I have found both of these company’s products at Sunflower Market.

I am still searching for a paper towel product from recycled or unbleached paper that truly is absorbent.  Meanwhile, my personal choice for now is Bounty’s…Select-A-Size.
These towels are perforated to allow cutting ½ size towels, which is really all we need for small jobs.  Used correctly, a roll will last longer, and save you dollars.  A favorite in the foil world is Reynold’s Wrappers which are precut sheets of foil that eliminate cutting and tearing which often cause frustration and waste.  Although this product is yet to be manufactured from recycled aluminum, it is certainly easy to toss in a recycling bin for disposal.

My final suggestion for paper use is to be watchful of how much paper your family uses to dry hands.  Children can be taught at home to conserve, using a cut just large enough for their small hands, in hopes that they learn a life time habit to do their part in creating less trash for this world!
I love to watch the cute squirrels gather and play in our backyard.  They can be so entertaining!  So, if you enjoy their sideshows and antics, here is a way to reward them and bring them within close view.

Recycle the old bread, rolls, and other pastry that is suffering from freezer burn, and that you really do not want to see on your table again.  Wildlife of any kind will love these morsels of food, broken down to their size.  Also check the pantry for cereal, croutons, and crackers that have expired and lost their crispness.  They are still safe to use, but have lost their human appeal.  Wildlife will love the treats, and there is less unnecessary trash.

For an added dash of flavor, mix the dry crumbs with melted chicken fat or other meat fat you have rendered from your cooking.  The fat lends extra flavor, and stored energy for these active little friends.  ( I must admit we do have chubby backyard friends at our house.  They are very well fed!)
If you have children in your kitchen, you owe it to them and their future, to be “green”.  Here are some simple ways to help them learn to conserve their environment while having fun being a helper.

Grocery bags- Let children help select the cloth bags that are found in most stores.  They can choose favorite colors and can become “keeper of the bags” at home.  Let it be their job to remember to carry bags from the car into the store and use them.  (Look for words and logos on bags to teach about letters, logos, and spellings!)

Garbage science- Teach your little ones about food scraps, peelings and composting while recycling kitchen wastes.  They can begin to recognize science and nature at work, as garbage transforms to helpful natural fertilizer for gardens.

Paper conservation- Use “select-a-size” paper toweling that works great for drying small hands.  Let them watch you select “brown” paper products that lack the bleaches which become harsh additives to the environment.

Trash sorting-  Children have a natural fascination with trash containers.  You can show them which items are accepted for recycling, and let them separate at the waste baskets.  Then make trash collection day extend your “home school” as they watch the trucks and mechanics of traveling trash!