Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to Use Up Food in Your Cabinet: Easy Recipe Generators

We've all bought a thing or two at the local grocery store that we thought we'd use, only to have it sit in the cabinet for months, sometimes years. If the food is still within the expiration date, you can of course donate the food to a local food pantry. If you'd rather make a meal out of your current cabinet inventory, there's an easy way to generate recipe ideas using Recipe Matcher.

RecipeMatcher.com is an easy to use website that lets you plug in the ingredients you have on hand, and suggested recipes will pull up based on those ingredients. The results can be surprising! It's also a great way to waste less food, and clean out the cabinets to make room for new food. You can also enter fresh ingredients into the ingredients list.

If you have plenty of canned or bagged pet food around that may expire before you use it up, donate it to a local animal shelter. They certainly will put it to good use!

How to stop buying wasteful food (for your next grocery shopping trip):

  • Don't buy in bulk if you don't need it. Costco and BJ's might be a good deal, but if you don't need the surplus and you can't go through it, you may wasting more money than you're saving.
  • If you haven't tried something before, buy a small pack of the item or a smaller size.
  • Buy individual size containers for things you haven't tried before. That way, if it's a multi pack and you don't like it, you've only used one, and you can give the rest away (for example, a 6 pack of Spicy V8 vegetable juice).
  • If the item has dust on the cover at the store, don't buy it. Chances are that product is sitting on the shelf unpurchased for a reason!
  • Shop for foods with less packaging. Buying fresh is an alternative at many grocery stores, including nuts and produce. Bring your own reusable bags or reusable containers and fill it up with the grains, nuts, or fresh products you're looking for (these are usually located in the produce aisle, or sometimes one aisle or two over).

Intro photo of grocery cart by zoovroo on flickr.

The author of this page writes on this green blog, and sells eco friendly products like reusable paper towels, organic body products, and biodegradable trash bags. Stop by the TheGreenerEarth.com today to view the entire product catalog!

Monday, June 7, 2010

How to Reduce the Effects of Climate Change

Climate change is one of the biggest reasons so many people are trying to think of progressive green ideas. Research has shown that stopping climate change dead in its tracks is nearly impossible, but we can try to slow it down. That way, we'll feel less of the effects of climate change down the road, whether those are high temperatures, rising sea levels, or rapid water evaporation (and a dwindling water supply).

The things that effect climate change the most are the actions of man, but events like volcanic eruptions can contribute to global warming. While we can't plug all of the volcanoes on the planet, we can try to reduce our own emissions that are building up in the atmosphere. As you may already know, the more greenhouse gases that enter our atmosphere, the warmer the air is, and the more damage it causes to our ozone layer.

There are two main factors that influence climate change, and those are the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. There are several other factors that contribute to global warming, but these two factors alone cause most of the greenhouse gases.

How do we reduce the effects of climate change?

Almost everything we purchase and use expels greenhouse gases. Much of the greenhouse gases we emit are from our food and transportation. Even the produce at the supermarket and a small lawnmower cause some emissions. Now, those bunches of grapes aren't sitting there expelling greenhouse gases themselves, but the process used to grow the grapes, transport them to the supermarket, and keep them cool does cause greenhouse gas emissions. The water that is pumped to the farm, the workers that drive to the farm, the tractors that maintain the land, and the delivery of materials to the farm all contribute small bits of emissions and energy use (and cattle farms use far more than plant farms). When the grapes are picked, they're transported to a facility using trucks, which use gas and oil. Once the grapes arrive in the supermarket, you'll drive to the market to go get them, burning more fossil fuels.

So how can we use less energy with our food?

First, we can avoid packaged foods. The fact that grapes are usually unpackaged is better for the environment and our atmosphere. The production of packaging is one extra step that will cause more emissions. Second, we can buy locally. Buying locally means fresher foods that use less transport energy to get to you. Third, we can grow our own food.

How can we use less transportation energy?

Buying your food locally is a big step in using less transportation energy. Second, you can reduce the amount of time you drive and carpool when possible. Public transportation is another option that uses far less energy than a single car.

There are many more ways to reduce climate change, from switching to reusable bags to taking cooler showers, which you can read about at the above link.