Homesteading and environmentally friendly practices go hand in hand. Each has a goal of using sustainable resources to reduce waste.
Sustainability on the homestead could include:
- Consuming less or the same as you produce
- Working in harmony with the land
- Living off the land for practical purposes
- Living without interference from the outside
As any homesteader knows, a lot of waste originates from the kitchen, where fruits, veggies, meats and other perishable foods have a short lifespan before they begin to spoil. Those focused on eco-friendly practices should concentrate on creating self-sustaining cycles that work with your current resources and provide abundance to your family.
1. Can Excess Food
Humans waste approximately 1.3 billion tons of food each year — that’s one-third of all food produced for human consumption across the globe. To prevent this waste from occuring on your homestead, learn how to can your garden leftovers. While you can quickly run to the store and buy a can of peas or a plastic container of peach slices, this costs money and adds more waste to landfills. Instead, can bumper crops of homegrown fruits and veggies for food year-round. Use glass Mason jars to seal and preserve fresh foods, and reuse them year after year, making them a more sustainable option than plastic.
2. Use Renewable Sources
We use a lot of energy in our kitchens by turning on the lights, running the dishwasher, refrigerating perishables and much more. Reduce your reliance on energy by seeking out renewable sources, such as solar panels. Once installed, solar panels can reduce or even eliminate your power bill. You can also earn federal tax credits and rebates, allowing you to take thousands off installation costs and start saving money from day one. For a more economical option, look into installing a skylight, which can reduce energy needs by filling your kitchen with natural sunlight.
3. Reuse and Repurpose Materials
Homesteading and eco-friendly practices are all about using what you already have, not letting any scrap go to waste. Use this same mindset in the kitchen, where you can repurpose salvaged materials into a new design. Look around the farm for old wood, windows and other items. And be sure to scour thrift stores and resale shops for any reusable materials. You can take a unique piece like a plank of barn wood and turn it into a new cutting board. Or use a slab of earth-toned granite as a durable kitchen countertop that will last for years to come.
4. Use Nontoxic Cleaners
Most of us store a variety of cleaners in the kitchen, including floor polish, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, deodorizers and much more. You may think you need these products to keep your home fresh and clean. But consumer-grade cleaning products can contain toxins that are harmful to your health and the environment.
The most common harmful chemicals in cleaning products include the following.
- Diethanolamine: found in liquid soaps, shampoos and shower gels
- Formaldehyde: found in laundry detergents, body washes and deodorants
- Sulfuric acid: found in toilet bowl cleaners, drain de-cloggers and hand soaps
- Triethanolamine: found in oven cleaners, all-purpose sprays and laundry detergents
Purchase nontoxic cleaners that come in biodegradable or recyclable containers. You can even make homemade single-ingredient cleaners with natural household items like lemon juice, borax, baking soda and salt.
5. Incorporate Bamboo Furniture
Homesteaders love bamboo because it is nearly effortless to grow and can serve a variety of purposes. Bamboo is durable, and you can use it to make everyday kitchen furniture items such as tables, stands and chairs. Making furniture reduces the need to buy it from a store and cuts down the reliance on less sustainable wood sources. If a bamboo item ever breaks or you want a kitchen makeover, bamboo is biodegradable, and you can leave it outside to break down naturally. You can also feed it to homestead livestock like goats and cows.
6. Set up Recycle Stations
When we don’t know what to do with junk, it typically ends up in the trash. But much of that junk, even food scraps, are reusable reducing the amount of waste you produce. To maximize recycling on your homestead, set up multiple recycling stations in your kitchen. You should have a station for organic waste, which you can take outside each day to the compost pile. You should also have a station for materials that will go to a recycling center. Last, don’t forget a station for items you might want to reuse around the house or farm.
Environmentally Friendly Kitchen Practices
As a homesteader, you likely use sustainable practices and resources already. But take the extra step to incorporate environmentally friendly solutions into your kitchen in the form of canned goods, solar panels, recycling stations and more.
Not only will these practices help protect the environment, but they will also reduce the number of harmful chemicals you and your family come into contact with. As a bonus, sustainable energy sources can also reduce or eliminate your power bill, allowing you to live a lifestyle entirely off the grid.
One of the easiest ways to deal with food waste is feed it back to the animals. Chickens can eat almost anything and even citrus fruit and peels are welcomed by the goats
I got solar panels years ago and love them! Because Washington State has a program that pays incentives for solar power, I’ve actually made enough to pay them off, and will continue to get free power for years. Look into incentives in your state. They may seem expensive, but there are credit unions that will loan money just on the solar panels (not a mortgage on your house) at a low interest rate, so that you’ll be paying about the same amount or less for the panels as your normal electric bill; if your state has incentives, you’ll pay less. I don’t know whether the Feds will still help pay for them, but find out. A solar panel installer should know about any government programs in your area.