5 Simple Steps To More Sustainable Cooking + Reducing Harmful Waste

We’re always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint and limit our impact on the environment. One of the areas we’re currently focusing on is sustainability in the kitchen. We’ve talked before about how you can eat more sustainably, but what about cooking? You might be creating more harmful waste than you realize, but don’t feel bad. We’re here to help you find a way to more sustainable cooking with a few simple steps.

Stem to leaf

When cooking, keep the mindset of “stem to leaf” when preparing your recipes. We throw away so many pieces of produce and protein when we could be utilizing those in our meal preparation. Whether it’s using vegetable parts you normally would throw away, like broccoli and cauliflower stems or “whole cooking” a roast chicken and repurposing the carcass and vegetable trimmings into stock, “stem to leaf” will not only help you cook more sustainably, but also stretch your dollar. 

Opt for “ugly” produce

We throw away 40 percent of our produce each year because of its appearance, which is insane. But stores don’t want to put these misshapen or flawed fruits and veggies on the shelves because they don’t look “appealing.” The truth is the majority of these flaws are only skin deep, so this can really make a huge impact on reducing our food waste problem. You can look for the “imperfect” bins at some of your local grocers, or try a produce delivery service like Imperfect Produce.

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Reinvent your leftovers

Did you over-purchase the amount of food that you needed for the week? Get creative! Utilize your freezer with your produce. You can stop the ripening process in its tracks when you put things in the freezer, so it’s a great way to turn leftover fruit into popsicles, or freeze that freshly made stock or leftover herbs in an ice cube tray for easy-to-grab individual servings. Other ways to be more sustainable in your cooking is to learn to how use techniques likes dehydrating and pickling. You’d be amazed at what you can repurpose and create with food that would have normally gone to waste. If you can’t find a use for leftover produce, compost it!

Buy in bulk

Instead of picking up a new can of beans every time you hit the store, buy a large bag of dried beans that you can soak overnight. A lot of stores like Sprouts or Whole Foods have the option of bringing your own vessels to fill with your desired pantry staples like grains, oats, flour, spices and nuts. You can also find local shops with bottle refill programs for your cooking basics like olive oil or vinegar.

Invest in reusable cooking supplies

Instead of lining your baking sheets with tinfoil or spraying them down with an aerosol cooking spray, opt for a silicone baking sheet that you can wash and reuse each time. Beeswax food wrap is a sustainable alternative to plastic wrap, so you don’t have to create extra waste when preparing food or saving leftovers.


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Main + featured image via our home tour with Leslie Antonoff.

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Author: Samantha Welker

Samantha Welker is the business manager at Glitter Guide. She has an Master's in Corporate Finance & Sustainability from Harvard Business School but prefers working in the creative industry. She also hosts a weekly business podcast for creative women called Pretty Okay Podcast. She loves spending time with her husband and her son, Rocky, in sunny San Diego. Follow along on Instagram