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For many people, food is life, and the kitchen is a place to turn for comfort in times like these. Cooking and baking can be an excellent outlet for folks staying at home to help flatten the curve of the coronavirus.

With all this time in the kitchen, we have an opportunity to find small ways to change up our cooking and baking routines to create less landfill waste.

Here are a few ways you can rethink your kitchen routine to eliminate common sources of waste and greenhouse gases that would otherwise pollute the planet.

Slow down your morning coffee routine

Maybe you used to work in an office where you used coffee pods to brew a single cup of joe each day, and those tiny pods always ended up in the trash bin. If you’re working from home now, you can enjoy the slower process of brewing your coffee each day with less waste. Even when you’re pressed for time, there are several biodegradable options that result in the perfect cuppa. Steeped coffee bags look like tea bags, and biodegradable coffee pods are made from renewable resources.

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And before you toss out any spent beans, consider putting them to work for the environment. Coffee grounds make an excellent soil nutrient for your garden, or they can go straight into the composting bin. Some research even shows that carbon-based materials like spent coffee beans can be bioengineered for methane, a leading source of greenhouse gases.

Repurpose your refrigerator’s deli meat drawer

Every refrigerator has one — that middle meat drawer, which we’re told is best for storing deli meats, cheeses, and other pork and beef products.

But this drawer is likely the most problematic section of your fridge from a carbon footprint perspective. That’s because processed meats and dairy products come with high greenhouse gas emissions. By replacing what you put in the meat drawer with plant-based alternatives — such as shiitake mushroom “bacon,” tofu, or seitan — you can do good for the environment and commit to a healthier lifestyle, too.

Create less waste before, during, and after meal prep

Even if you’re cooking from scratch at home, a lot of packaging waste can go into meal preparation, from plastic containers that hold eggs to the stems and ends of produce to the aluminum foil and plastic wrap that you use to preserve leftovers. All of it inevitably ends up in the landfill, but there are simple ways to avoid excessive waste.

These are all small changes you can make in your kitchen routine that add up to bigger environmental impacts.

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Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a contributing writer for the Washington Post, Thrillist, Eater, and Matador Networks. Follow him on Twitter: @TimEbner.

Washington, DC