According to a study published in the journal Science Advances, about 60 percent of all plastic that has been produced since the 1950s is sitting in landfills around the world, noting that "none of the mass-produced plastics biodegrade in a meaningful way."
While I try to wash and reuse plastic bags as much as I can, the obvious solution was to figure out how to reduce our dependence on plastic and aluminum. That led me to also look for an alternative to single-use paper towels along with ways to keep produce fresh longer, so as to reduce food waste.
It turns out, it's not as hard as I thought, but reducing wasn't the only answer. I also needed to rethink how we shopped for, cooked and stored our food. I call it our "mindful kitchen."
Here are some ways you can create a more environmentally friendly kitchen, too:
- Shop more often: Buying in bulk can lead to unintentional food waste.
- Clean out your pantry: Because I live in a fairly humid area, I tended to store items such as dry cereal and nuts in the refrigerator to help maintain their freshness.
- Go for the beeswax wrap: reusable food wraps primarily made of fabric coated in beeswax. Once you get used to using them, they work really well, and can be washed in cold water (hot water would melt the wax); the tricky part is remembering that the sticky fabric will not actually stick to the surface of, for instance, a glass bowl - simply mould the fabric around the top and sides of the bowl, folding the edges of the fabric so that they stick together to form a sturdy seal.
- Switch to bamboo: The perforated towels look and feel just like a slightly thicker version of the traditional variety, but each sheet can be used up to 100 times, simply by rinsing it out and letting it air-dry. Bamboo paper towels are highly sustainable, and the bamboo fibers are said to break down quickly - as fast as 45 days in a landfill.