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A Beginner's Green Guide:

Making your kitchen more sustainable and eco-friendly step by step without judgment.

It’s not easy being green. At least, that’s what that one frog said. While Kermit might be right about a few things, it’s easier than ever to take steps to making your home more eco-friendly. A crucial aspect of living more sustainably is to be aware of your waste, both physical and intangible. Do you consistently throw away produce because it spoils before you use it? Are multiple lights left on for your cat when you go out? How many single-use water bottles did you use while your reusable one collected dust? Now, I’m not asking you to be perfect when it comes to being green. I just ask you take that extra moment to walk to the recycling or turn your lights off.

This guide focuses on becoming more sustainable in your kitchen, including growing your own produce and starting to compost. Making one room in your house more sustainable is a great first step on your eco journey.

Create a Salad Garden

Let’s face it—not everyone has a green thumb. Plenty of plants have died by my hand, but after many failures and a little bit of tenacity, I’m making progress. It’s doubtful the Queen herself will be taking a stroll in your backyard anytime soon, so let’s start small.  Nicole Johnsey Burke, the owner of Rooted Down and Gardenary, @gardenaryco, is on a mission to get more people to grow salad gardens. If not deciphered from its name, a salad garden is a home garden that houses your favorite ingredients for a salad: lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, fresh herbs, peppers—you name it! The idea of a salad garden is to grow more produce at home. Produce in our local grocers has a large carbon footprint comprised of the water use, refrigeration tools and travel distances. Walking out to your salad garden and grabbing some lettuce almost has a carbon footprint of zero. And what’s more rewarding that a fresh salad you grew by yourself!

To start your salad garden, consider using a feeding trough or an old cooler on wheels. Whatever container fits in your space and can hold soil can be a garden bed. After prepping your soil, plant your chosen veggies, water and wait. It’s that simple—a rainbow connection.

Be a Smart Shopper

When you do venture for grocery shopping try to only buy in season and Colorado grown produce. This ensures your fruit and veggies didn’t have to travel thousands of miles to reach your plate. And if your wallet allows for it, buy organic produce for food that has been grown with the Earth’s health in mind. Remember to bring your reusable bags! I like to use cloth mesh bags for my fruits and veggies and larger bags at checkout. Pro tip: keep your bags in your car so you don’t forget. When you can’t avoid plastic packaging—I’m looking at you berries—stick to plastic numbers one and two (the number inside the little arrow triangle). These plastics are accepted by most residential recycling programs.

Compost Food Waste

Compost is a mixture of decomposing plant and food waste that can be used to reutilize and improve soil health. Whether you’re ready to dedicate a part of your yard to a compost pile or are sticking with an on-the-counter bin, I applaud you for taking this next step in kitchen sustainability. When starting, a good rule of thumb is if it comes from the ground, it’s good to compost. Paper comes from a tree which comes from the ground: compost. Beef comes from cows which do not grow on trees: trash. The big exception to the rule is eggshells. When composting, the internet is your friend. See what others have done in a space that’s similar size to yours. Do some research about compost pickups in your area, like Wompost in Aurora. If your salad garden is doing alright, mix in your compost to see it thrive.

At the end of the day, the best thing you can do for Mother Earth is to take sustainability one lettuce leaf at a time. Being aware of where your food came from and how much is going to waste is a good first step. From there you can shop local for seasonal produce and buy the correct amount. Each day you are a little more eco-conscious is a step in the green direction.