Remember the three Rs, reduce, reuse, recycle? It seems the recycle aspect of that old adage is the only one we have held on to. Of course, reuse and reduce mean consuming less, and we currently live in a time of consumption. I am old school when it comes to eco matters – I still live by the reuse and reduce rules. I try to purchase quality items that have longevity and that I truly love, I am resourceful and a great re-inventor of items I already have, and I know that a great deal is only a great deal if I actually need and use what I am purchasing.How does this translate to the world of food? 1. Buy only what you need. Remember when you mother told you to clear your plate because there are people starving in Africa? Well, that may be overly dramatic but the sentiment is a good one. Stockpiling your cupboards with consumable goods because it's a better deal if you buy a dozen instead of only three leads to overspending and overeating. Do your wallet, your waistline and the kids in Africa a favour and buy only what you need. 2. Stay away from overpackaged food products. This is my own personal mission at the grocery store and a place I think the consumer can make a real difference. I make it a point to buy foods that have no packaging or single packaging only. If something comes wrapped in plastic and stuffed in a box I give it a miss. I buy quality products that are clearly visible; you will get a better product and reduce the amount you send to the landfill (you don't see a head of broccoli in a double-wrapped package, do you?). I also skip the extra bag in the produce aisle – your potatoes don't need to be plastic-wrapped, either. 3. Be frugal with your resources. My grandmother grew up on a farm during the depression and her household reflected how ingrained that experience was in her life. Nothing in her house was wasted: water was caught in rain barrels at the end of eavestroughs to water the garden; plastic wrap was saved and reused; and if a paper napkin wasn't too dirty from dinner your napkin, carefully designated as yours, would show up again at breakfast time. It was ingrained in her to be economical with all of her resources since she lived in a time when resources were scarce. I can't say I am as extremely frugal but here are a few everyday things I do: • I pack breakfast and lunch on office days and use the same reusable plastic containers I have had for the past 10 years. • I do not buy single packs of anything; instead, I portion out what I need and package at home in reusable containers. • I reuse sheets of parchment paper from baking over and over again until they are soiled or unusable. • I never run a half-empty dishwasher; if I only have a few dishes to wash, I do them by hand – it uses less water and less detergent. • I use all the food I buy: I use dregs of wine frozen in ice cube trays for sauces, I pile chicken bones in a bag in the freezer and make stock out of them when I have enough, I do the same with mushroom stems and ham bones and fresh herbs. I say bring back the reuse and reduce along with the recycle for real environmental impact, in and out of the kitchen.
What are the little things you do in the kitchen and grocery store to be more eco-friendly?Today's code word: food. Read more: • Food and the environment: Make your grocery shopping greener • How to conserve water in your kitchen • Top 10 ways to save energy in your kitchen