Cooking and eating are favorite pastimes, but they can lead to the accumulation of a lot of garbage. Commit to go easier on the environment in the coming year by reducing mealtime waste. Encourage your family to do the same; saving the planet should be a collective effort.

Here are some great tips to help you be more environmentally friendly in food-related matters this year:

  • Bring your own bags – Bring your own reusable bags when grocery shopping. Plastic bags take do not break down well in the environment and are not eco-friendly. If you must use plastic bags, reuse them several times and deposit them in specialized recycling bins (found at most grocery stores) when you are finished. Bring sealable containers when you buy fruits and veggies rather than accumulating so many bags. You can slip your containers right into the fridge when you get home.
  • Bring containers for restaurant leftovers – Bring your own sealable containers to restaurants to hold your leftovers. If the restaurant offers plastic silverware for your take-out or leftovers, take a pass, opting for re-usable silverware at home.
  • Carry a thermos – If you have the habit of stopping by the coffee shop each morning for a cup of Joe or buying a water bottle every time you go out, keep a reusable thermos or water bottle with you instead.
  • Avoid plastic for food storage – People often store food in plastic containers, but when possible, opt for reusable glass containers instead. They often stack better and stay nicer over time. Some types of plastic may harm our health when its chemicals come in contact with our food. In addition, plastic stays in the environment for hundreds of year, polluting the soil and water sources.
  • Bring lunch to work – In the evenings, make a habit of preparing your lunch for the next day. You can save big money by not going out to eat and save the environment by not requiring the food packaging that comes with restaurant meals.
  • Lay off the paper towels – Paper towels deplete trees and eventually end up in the landfill. While paper towels may be necessary at times, try to minimize their use by opting for towels or sponges instead.

Small things add up when it comes to protecting our environment. Make a commitment to do your part this year.