Green Kitchen

Tips for a Green Kitchen

As promised yesterday, when I announced the winners of the green kitchen tip contest, I have compiled a digest of the other submissions.

I want to thank you all for taking the time to share your tips. It was an exciting feeling to have all 288 of them pour into my inbox throughout the day, proving yet again how much you care about these issues, and how hard you try to minimize your impact on the environment.

I learned a lot, too, and I will work to incorporate as many of these habits as I can into my own kitchen routine. The good news is, green often equates frugal, so now is the perfect time to put them into practice.

Some of those tips may only make a small difference, one that might seem negligible in the eye of glass-half-empty people, but small differences add up, and the important thing is the mindset: once you start to consider your actions and your surroundings with environmentally-conscious spectacles, everything matters, regardless of scale.

I will add that those tips should all be taken with a grain of salt, and a whole shaker of common sense: depending on your personal situation, location, equipment, etc. the greener choice may not always be the one suggested here.

 1. Buy Local and Seasonal
 2. Reduce Food Waste
 3. Reduce Packaging Waste
 4. Reuse Packaging and Containers
 5. Eat Fewer Animal Products
 6. Grow Your Own
 7. Compost
 8. Avoid Using Disposable Paper and Plastic Products
 9. Bring Your Own
10. Save Energy
11. Conserve Water
12. Use Natural Cleaning Products
13. Share

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Tips for a Green Kitchen, Part I

For my Earth Day post last week, I partnered with Eva from flip & tumble and asked you to help plant trees in Malawi, and to submit your best green tips for a chance to win a reusable shopping bag.

Ripple AfricaSome 500 tree-planting comments were submitted. Eva and I had planned to have two trees planted per comment, but then we got excited and decided to double the stakes, and in the end each of us funded the planting of two trees per comment. Congratulations and thank you! You have effectively helped plant 2,000 trees, a combination of indigenous, exotic and fruit trees, in the Nkhata Bay District in Malawi. Let’s all make the wish that these saplings grow to be strong trees that thrive for decades.

As for the green tip contest, your response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic, and I received 288 submissions. Today, I am publishing the ten I picked to win a reusable shopping bag. I must say it’s been hard to choose the winners in such a wide-ranging collection of thoughtful, smart, and inspiring tips, and I am working on organizing the rest of them as a digest to share with you next.

See below for the ten green tips that win their submitters a flip & tumble bag (they should have received an email from me) and check back tomorrow for many more green kitchen tips.

See also: Tips for a Green Kitchen, Part II.

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Help Plant Trees + Enter to Win A Reusable Shopping Bag

Today is the 39th edition of Earth Day, an international event created to celebrate that blue planet of ours, and raise awareness about environmental issues.

As I explained in this recent Q&A, I have grown more and more environmentally conscious over the past few years: without being completely obsessed with the topic, I do my best to educate myself, make informed choices, and limit the impact of my actions on the environment. I hope this reduce, reuse, recycle philosophy comes through year-round in my writing, and I wasn’t really planning anything specific to mark Earth Day on C&Z.

Ripple AfricaBut then Eva, the young co-founder of flip & tumble, the California company that makes the reusable shopping bags I use and love to use, contacted me about partnering to raise funds for Ripple Africa’s reforestation campaign in Malawi, and I said yes.

Here’s the deal: for every person who leaves a comment* at the bottom of this post, flip & tumble will fund the planting of a tree in one of the community nurseries that Ripple Africa is working to build, and I will match that donation with my own. So just go to the comment box, type “Plant trees for me!” (and whatever you want to add) and two trees will be planted.

Flip & TumbleIn addition to this, Eva is offering to give away ten reusable shopping bags, and I’ve decided to turn it into a little contest. I’d like to invite you to submit your best green tip — especially one that’s food- or cooking-related — through this form. I’ll pick my ten favorites, and their submitters will receive a bag each in the mail. You can participate regardless of where in the world you live — this is Earth day after all — but be sure to enter your email address correctly so I can contact you if you win.

You have until the very last seconds of April 22 — until midnight GMT-12, i.e. until 1pm Paris time on April 23 — to leave your tree-planting comment below and to submit your best green tip for a chance to win a lovely and handy reusable shopping bag.

Update: The comments and contest are now closed, and the results will be announced next week.

Thank you for participating!

* To prevent abuse, only one comment per IP address will be accepted.

Sustainable Seafood

Sardines

I blame it all on my nephew.

Around the time that he was born, earlier this year, something clicked and I decided to take the whole sustainable seafood thing seriously: if he and his unborn cousins are to enjoy a long life full of lobster tails and skate wings, it is up to me to make informed and responsible choices now.

I had heard of the depletion of the oceans before, but I don’t think I had quite realized how dire the situation is: fish populations the world over are threatened by overfishing, overconsumption, pollution, and fishing techniques that wreak havoc in local ecosystems. If we don’t change our ways fast, major fish species may become extinct as early as 2050.

Like all environmental problems, this is an abysmally complex one, with multitudinous causes, implications, side effects, and collateral damages. And if you factor in other, equally pressing concerns, such as levels of mercury, PCB, and other contaminants, as well as the need to favor locally sourced ingredients, it all becomes rather overwhelming, befuddling, discouraging, check all that apply. Not everyone aspires to become an expert in marine matters, and not everyone has the time or inclination to decode what the experts are saying.

We just want to eat fish and be merry.

It is perhaps tempting then to sit on one’s hands and say, well, I’m just the one consumer, I can’t change the world, and that slab of red tuna on the fish stall or on the menu is already out of the water anyway, so I might as well eat it.

But no; it is best to let that slab of red tuna sit there, uneaten, for it is very much a chicken-or-egg (or rather, a fish-or-roe) matter. As much as we would want them to, restaurants and fish markets aren’t in the business of saving the planet; they’re in the business of making their customers happy.

And if what makes you happy is to feel sure that the fish you buy has been fished or farmed sustainably — that is to say, in a way that ensures that the fish population will be maintained or increased, and that the ecosystem it belongs to is protected — then it will become financially profitable for fish vendors and restaurateurs to care.

So, what to do, what to do?

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Reusable Shopping Bags

Reusable Shopping Bags

Paris supermarkets stopped giving away plastic bags for free last year. The deal is this: you can either 1- bring your own shopping bag, 2- purchase a jumbo reusable plastic bag, or 3- purchase a flimsy plastic bag if you really insist.

Despite the corporate claim that they’re pretty (um, hello?), the jumbo reusable plastic bags they sell at my supermarket are ugly. But I admit they’re sturdy and very large, which makes them handy when you have a lot of stuff to buy, or a lot of stuff to lug around for other purposes, like take junk down to the basement.

For the rest of my food shopping, however, when I buy things from smaller shops (they still give away plastic bags), or for impromptu purchases when I’m out and about, I keep a reusable tote bag in my purse.

In fact, I have two. The first one is a brown tote bag with curly pink lettering that I bought at Monoprix a while ago: it comes with a little pouch in which to stow the folded bag when not in use. The second one is a blue flip & tumble bag, which was sent to me by its designers, recent graduates of a design program at Stanford University. This one you scrunch up into a ball and flip unto itself — not unlike a pair of socks.

Both serve me well, as they are lightweight, have a larger capacity than they appear, and are comfortable to carry. And call me smug, but it always gives me great satisfaction to stop sales attendants mid-gesture and say, “I won’t be needing a bag for this, thank you,” as my magic tote bag materializes where there formerly was none.

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