One of the key areas where waste is generated at home is the kitchen. This post will give you a few simple tips about how you can reduce this.
- No more paper towels. They are so commonplace nowadays it’s hard to remember life before kitchen roll. However, they’re totally unnecessary. They also come wrapped in plastic and the majority won’t be recycled. I have a bunch of tea towels that I’m not precious about and I use them for everything. Wiping the cooker, cleaning up spills, mopping escaped food off the floor, greasy fingers and of course drying up. Obviously I don’t use the same tea towel for all of these without washing it. I’m not an idiot.
- Loose fruit and veg. Once you wake up to the horror of single use plastic, you begin to see it in places you never noticed before. One such place is the fruit and veg aisle at supermarkets. However, if you look closer, you can usually find some stuff there that’s not smothered in the stuff. Better still, if you can get to one, visit a green grocers. Another benefit of doing this is it means that you can get the exact quantities you need and therefore avoid food waste. Double win.
- Look for glass, metal and cardboard packaging. There are some easy switches, like ketchup, from plastic to glass. Glass is great because it can be recycled over and over again. Some metal can too. Paper can only be recycled up to eight times but often less.
- Make your own. I no longer buy hummus. There, I said it. I make it and it’s ridiculously quick, easy and delicious. I’ve saved countless single use plastic tubs by doing this. Salad dressing is another thing I used to get in plastic bottles but make now. We’ve been making our own bread, flat breads and wraps for a while now too. If we’re too busy I get it from the bakery, take my own cloth bag and ask them not to wrap it. You can make most things if you have the time and the inclination. People think they are too busy to make things the way our grandparents did but I think this is often not the case. If we eliminated the time we spend of Facebook and Instagram alone just think how much hummus we could produce!
- Buy in bulk. We’ve talked before about our love for scoop shops. However I know these are not an option for everyone. If you can get to one, I urge you to do so as they will enable you to go completely plastic free. However, if you can’t, don’t lose hope. My advice is to buy things in bigger packets as this will equate to less plastic overall. Not perfect but better than nothing. You can get giant bags of rice and pasta in the supermarket as well as finding spaghetti and lasagne sheets in cardboard packets with only a small window of plastic. Also avoid little packets of nuts and dried fruit, get bigger packets decant into little tubs or jars if you want them on the go.
- Meal plan. If you make a sensible meal plan you will avoid picking up things you don’t need. Supermarkets are great at making us think we need loads of things, most of which are wrapped in shiny plastic to further advertise the product. Keep your eyes on your list and stick to your meal plan. You’ll save money too.
7. Recognise your weaknesses. What products pull you in? What is your weakest area? For me it was breakfast. I leave really early for work and I’m useless in the early hours of the day so preparing breakfast is out of the question. I went through a very long period of buying breakfast bars as I could mindlessly munch them whilst working. I have since found a few zero waste alternatives, which I make on a Sunday and they last me for about two weeks. They are healthier as well.
8. Don’t cling to your Clingfilm! Plastic wrap like Clingfilm as well as sandwich and freezer bags need to go. There are so many reusable alternatives it’s untrue. I use Tupperware (I’ll replace with metal containers when this is no good but not before – use what you already have), metal bowls and glass jars when storing things in the fridge. I have little boxes for things like dried fruit and nuts to take to work. Glass jars are brilliant and if you don’t fill them right to the top, you can put them in the freezer – just don’t to the lid up fully until after the contents has frozen. If you love Clingfilm, try using wax wraps like Beeswraps or a vegan alternative Wrappa Bees.
9. Clean up your cleaning products. Washing up liquid, hand soap and laundry detergent are things I refill at Scoopaway, Southville Deli or Betterfood. If you don’t have a shop like this nearby then as mentioned above, buy big bottles that last for ages. You can get laundry powder that comes in a cardboard box so that’s another good option. For surface cleaner, first off, you don’t need a different product for the cooker top, surfaces and floor. One will do just fine, honestly. There are a variety of zerowaste homemade recipes out there so when you’ve finished your latest bottle of flash, try refilling it with your own concoction. I’m still making my way through what I already had before quitting plastic so can’t advise on a particular formula yet. Promise I’ll get back to you on that though!
10. Say no. I’ve basically accepted that there are certain things that I’m just not prepared to buy any more. Crisps, cartons of yoghurt, plastic wrapped chocolate and so on. Guess what? It’s fine. My diet is varied, balanced and interesting. Saying no to things can force you to be creative and simplifying is liberating.
I’m at the beginning of my zerowaste adventure so I’m sure there are loads more tips out there. If you have any, we’d love to hear from you!