In the summer, sustainable practices are easy. We can swing by the farmers market with our reusable tote in tow, walk to closer destinations instead of driving, cook vegetable-heavy meals, and avoid using heat-producing appliances. In the winter, though, being green is a bit more difficult. Why walk all the way to the recycling bin when it’s cold outside and your trash can is only a few steps away? And why bother turning down the thermostat when it’s cold outside?
Though it’s not as convenient, it’s just as important to engage in sustainable practices during February as it is in June. To help ease you into it, we’ve compiled a few simple tips to help make your winter a little greener.
Did you know that some of your food has to travel 1,500 miles or more to get to your plate? Unfortunately, there’s no natural way for us to get foods like avocados or cherries in Missouri during the winter months. It takes a lot of gas and energy to transport food so far, and that doesn’t include the energy needed for storage at a grocery store or another overnight facility.
The solution? Use foods that are in season and shop local. This cuts down the distance your food travels and ensures your food is as fresh as it can be. Next time you’re at Farmers Market of the Ozarks, try some of these tasty options:
- Winter squash. Squash is a winter staple, satisfying and filling for even the largest appetites. We’re preferential to an easy-to-prepare baked spaghetti squash!
- Spinach. You can get your greens in no matter the time of year. Sautéed spinach is a great seasonal choice even in winter.
- Sweet potatoes. Whether you’re enjoying them year-round or as a holiday indulgence, sweet potatoes make for a wonderful side dish. Prepare them Hasselback style for a meal that’s certain to impress.
- Cabbage. Nothing says winter quite like a meal with perfectly seasoned cabbage. Try a Southern spin this season with a fried cabbage dish.
Shortcut to Sustainability: Unsure what’s in season? The Seasonal Food Guide website can help you find what’s in season wherever you are. Bonus—you can base your recipes for the week on what you see available!
When we think of living sustainably, we often think of dropping a paper cup in a recycling bin or taking glass bottles to the recycling center. We can sometimes forget that recycling is only one the three R’s of sustainability: reduce, reuse, and recycle. This winter, take it upon yourself to find reusable options for everyday items. It saves money in the long run, and it’s an easy way to help better the world around you.
Consider replacing some of these single-use items with reusable alternatives:
- Wrapping paper. During the holidays, we tend to grab a roll of wrapping paper and not think twice about it. Instead of throwing away a mountain of ripped paper, consider wrapping a gift using fabric or use cloth bags for smaller gifts. Plus, no additional clean-up!
- Disposable utensils. When you’re serving food and drinks to a room full of people, it may seem like disposable utensils make more sense. Avoid the temptation of plastic and use your normal flatware instead. It may be more for you to wash, but it’s better for the environment! When it comes to dispensing drinks, opt for compostable paper straws or skip them entirely. We promise you won’t miss it.
- Confetti. Want to throw some confetti in the air to celebrate? Don’t use the traditional plastic stuff—not only is it hard to clean, those little pieces of plastic can have a big environmental impact. Instead of traditional confetti, opt for seed paper. It’s 100% recyclable, sustainable, and comes in plenty of fun, exciting colors!
- Lights. Between untangling and broken fuses, it can seem like a good idea to throw away your lights and start new every year. Resist the urge and take some time to detangle your lights rather than put more plastic into a landfill. If broken lights are an issue, opt for LED lights that will last longer and burn brighter.
Shortcut to Sustainability: Styrofoam cups are commonplace at holiday parades, parties, and anywhere else that hands out free hot beverages. Rather than using a Styrofoam cup, bring along a collapsible reusable cup in your pocket or purse. They’re easy to carry and even easier to use!
Use Energy Moderately
It’s normal to want to crank the thermostat as high as it will go as soon as it gets cold. You won’t make your home warm any faster and will only be wasting energy when you do this. Only raise your thermostat a degree at a time, and remember that your thermostat isn’t the only thing that can keep you warm.
When you need to get cozy, consider taking these steps first:
- Put on a heavy sweater, hoodie, or blanket
- Go for a jog
- Use heavier insulated curtains
- Cook more often to let the heat in
- Use rugs if you have hardwood floors
- Use a humidifier to help hold in warmth
Shortcut to Sustainability: Lower your bill and save energy by getting a programmable thermostat. You can set it to be colder during the day and progressively warmer at night, preventing you from wasting heat and allowing your body to slowly acclimate to lower temperatures. (Psst—not to brag, but all of our residents have a Nest thermostat installed in their apartments!)
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