10 Tips to Reduce the Carbon Footprint in your Pantry

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Go open your pantry and see how green it really is. You may be surprised to find how environmentally unfriendly it is because food, and the agriculture industry in general accounts for almost 10% of greenhouse emissions in the U.S. alone. So how do you reduce the carbon footprint in your pantry?

What you eat matters a lot in reducing carbon footprint. Some studies suggest that a vegetarian diet may contribute less towards emissions compared to a largely animal-based diet.

But, it’s not always the case. Not all plant-based foods minimize your carbon footprint. For instance, transporting fruits and vegetables through planes may create more carbon emissions compared to a kilogram of chicken meat. As you look into reducing the carbon footprint in your pantry, consider where your food comes from.

Not to worry though — just follow these 10 tips and your pantry will be greener and more environmentally aware than what it is now.

And once you’ve made it more greener and environmentally-conscious, well then, there is no turning back. You’ll find even more ways to cut back on your emissions footprint. Soon you’ll be inviting your friends and family in just to take a look at your pantry.

Reduce the Carbon Footprint in your Pantry

1. Weekly Shopping

Reduce carbon footprint in your pantry - grocery shopping

Don’t take grocery shopping for granted. The biggest waste of money and time is taking off to the grocery store on a whim.

Before you head out to the organic market or store, make a list and stock up on the things you use most often.

Shopping with a pre-determined list stops you from making a run to the store for just one more ingredient.

The back and forth to the market is neither efficient nor ecologically responsible.


2. Take Your Reusable Bags

Be sure to take a reusable carry bag to carry your groceries home. Plastic bags take years to decompose, and it’s not just that. According to expert estimates, sea life consumes more than 24,000 tons of microscopic plastic every year, with a UC Davis study finding whole and micro plastics in fish sold at most California markets.

Plastic bags are also harder to recycle. The EPA estimates that only about 9% of plastic material was recycled in 2015 compared to the more than 102.1 billion plastic bags used annual in the United States.

For a quick run to the grocery store, buying and adding extra plastic bags is just not worth the trouble. It won’t help you reduce carbon footprint in the pantry.


3. Look for Reduced Packaging

When filling your pantry, look for ingredients that have less packaging.

Look for products in recycled packages or those that are compost-able.

Buy spices in bulk and keep a little in the pantry and freeze the rest. Pour ingredients in recycled sterilized jars and containers.


4. Keep Stuff From Spoiling

One of the greenest things you can do is prevent waste before it exists. Use clear jars to store things. Date your perishables so you know when you need to use them by, and you can properly store them.

Other tips to reduce food wastage at home and reduce carbon footprint in your pantry include:

  • Store your leftover broth and stock as ice-cubes and only melt a few cubes when cooking.
  • Come up with different uses for ingredients so you don’t waste any.
  • Turn your leftovers into fresh dishes or have a special meal day just for leftovers. Get creative in the kitchen.
  • Use creative swaps in your recipes. For instance, you can use kale instead of spinach if you already have it in the fridge.


5. Go Vegan

go vegan - Reduce carbon footprint in your pantry

Most Canadians and Americans eat double their recommended intake for poultry, meat and fish.

Store legumes like beans, lentils and fava beans in your pantry, and choose these proteins over meats for two or three days a week.

Just think, the land used to grow beans and vegetables yields 10 times more protein over the land used to raise cattle. Going vegan, as one reader mentions is, by far, one of the most effective ways to slash your carbon footprint.


6. Buy Local

Buy items that are produced locally whenever possible. Many spices and staples com from other locations and purchasing these items can increase your carbon footprint. So you want to keep your basics from homes, local farms or farmers markets.

When you have a sunny windowsill,  grow your own herbs there.


7. Use Your Compost

Compost organic items like onions, garlic, lemons, old flour and grains. You can also compost stale spices and dried herbs. If you don’t have a garden, use a worm composter.


8. Use Green Cleaning Materials

Do your skin, your lungs and your wallet a favor by eliminating the commercial cleaners from your pantry. Instead use simple cleaning products like vinegar, lemon, bicarbonate soda, teatree oils and eucalyptus oils. This can significantly reduce carbon footprint in your pantry.


9. Eliminate Processed Foods

Look through your cupboards and eliminate those processed sugars, flowers and above all, get rid of that instant stuff.


10. Read Labels

read food labels

If you haven’t practiced reading the labels of the foods you eat, now is a good time to start. Look at all of those canned goods and remove the stuff that has processed ingredients, sugar, salts and chemicals. You’ll probably find that this amounts to most of your canned goods.

But just remember, this is a one time deal. If possible, use it for your compost or recycle it in some way to reduce carbon footprint in your pantry.

{This article has been updated for freshness and consistency.}

  • Greener Ideal Staff

    Greener Ideal helps you live your life in more sustainable ways with green living tips and commentary on the latest environment news. We want to protect the planet and reduce our collective carbon footprint.

1 thought on “10 Tips to Reduce the Carbon Footprint in your Pantry”

  1. This is a little dizzying.Most of these suggestions means virtually nothing in terms of reducing carbon footprint, whereas going vegan is the equivalent of getting rid of the family car.

    I guess I don’t understand why you’d talk about so many tiresome steps that will do almost nothing except make people feel hassled, when there is one step they can take that will cut their carbon diet by 1/3 or more?


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