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8 Ways to Go 'Green' in Your Kitchen

How can you create a more environmentally friendly kitchen?

5. Buy Products With Less Packaging continued...

It's difficult to avoid food packaging completely, so when you find yourself with boxes and plastic trays, be sure to recycle them (if your recycler accepts them). Just fold up the boxes so they lie flat in your recycling bin.

The two worst packages in the grocery store, in my opinion, are the cans that cannot be recycled or reused: pressurized whipped cream cans, and cooking-spray cans. Instead, whip up cream fresh with your mixer, or use a product like Cool Whip Light that comes in a recyclable container. And instead of cans of cooking spray, get some refillable metal or plastic oil sprayers from companies like Misto or Pampered Chef.

6. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

Find out how to recycle in your area -- what the recycler accepts, whether it needs to be sorted, and where you can go to recycle. In many cities, the garbage company picks up your recycle bin on your curb, just like it does your garbage.

You can make it easy to recycle in your kitchen by finding a convenient spot (perhaps under or next to the sink) where you keep a small garbage can to collect recyclables. Every day or two, a family member can bring the recycling from the kitchen to the larger bin or can outside.

7. Plan Ahead to Minimize Trips to the Market

Keep your kitchen well stocked so you don't have those make those last-minute grocery runs that waste both gas and time.

And be open to using ingredient substitutions in your recipes when possible. For example, use the shrimp you have in your freezer instead of chicken, or the reduced-fat cheddar in your dairy drawer instead of the jack cheese called for in the recipe. Dried cranberries work instead of raisins in most recipes. If you're out of baking power, mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar to substitute for each teaspoon of baking powder. If you're baking a cake and are short of eggs, substitute 3 tablespoons light or low-fat mayonnaise for each egg.

8. Eat Red Meat Less Often

When you're sitting down to a burger or barbequed steak, you probably aren't thinking about the fact that cattle belch. And when they belch, out comes methane gas, which is 23 times more potent at trapping heat in our atmosphere than carbon dioxide, says Michael Jacobson, PhD, executive director for the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Further, livestock manure is the source of two-thirds of man-made nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that's 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, says Jacobson, author of Six Arguments for a Greener Diet. According to Jacobson, the raising and eating of livestock not only pollutes water, air, and soil, it's responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions -- a higher share than transportation emissions.

So even if you're not ready to cut out red meat completely, cut down on the number of meals that feature meat. Try using meat as an accent instead of the main attraction of your meal. That might mean serving a stir fry, salad, or casserole instead of a steak or chop. And go meatless for one meal a day.

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