Our kitchens are the heart of our home and sadly, they are one of the main culprits when it comes to single-use plastic. A scary statistic was recently released which said that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050 if we don’t take steps to reduce our plastic waste now. In 2011, the Plastic Free July campaign was founded (but, I’ll be honest, it’s only this year I’ve seen it being properly discussed) to encourage people to stop using single-use plastic and seek alternatives.
If you’re not sure where to start with reducing plastic, you’re not alone. It can be difficult, but it’s all about small steps and doing a little bit of research where you can. The kitchen is an ideal place to start. From cling film to your cupboards, this room is filled with non-bio-degradable nasties. With that in mind, Kitchen Exchange challenge me to consciously think about my plastic usage this July and share my own tips for reducing it!
Start with Shopping
An obvious one but you can start your plastic free journey at the supermarket. If you take a look around when shopping, you will be shocked at just how much plastic packaging is used, especially with fruit and vegetables. One environmental group, A Plastic Planet, have created a Plastic-Free Trust Mark to be displayed on packaging to indicate that no plastic has been used but it’s not likely to roll out for a few years yet.
As someone that buys lots of fruit and veg (and pre-prepared stuff at times!), I know this is an area that I can improve. Just a note, I do appreciate that some of us with chronic illnesses and disabilities rely on things like pre-prepared packaged fruit and veg. So please try to adapt to what suits you!. I’ll be going out of the way to avoid bagging up my fruit and veg (why I use those useless, thin, plastic bags anyway is beyond me!) and try my absolute best to ditch pre-prepared veg if it’s necessary. I’ve now got a Veggie Bullet; so there’s really no reason why I can’t buy my things loose and use that to chop and dice easily!.
I don’t drink a lot of fizzy drinks anyway-so I reuse my Hydratem8 water bottle each day (I love mine and would recommend them to anyone!). That’s one thing I’m already scoring top marks on!
Talking of drinking, I know straws again are vital for helping those with feeding problems. I personally use straws as I juice daily and it helps protect tooth enamel but I’ve switched to a glass straw (which is, admittedly, a bit of a pain to clean but much less wasteful!)
Buy Plastic Free Tea Bags
I bet you didn’t know that tea bags contained plastic, did you? I didn’t really think about it but learnt they are actually made of polypropylene which is the same plastic used for straws and bottle tops. However, luckily for me, my favourite brands ARE plastic-free; for example, Pukka Tea’s offerings use a cotton string. If you’re a coffee drinker and you’re looking to do your bit to reduce plastic waste, say no to disposable pods and seek out more sustainable alternatives such as refillable pods or a coffee pot.
Swap Cling Film for Reusable Wraps
I blog all the time about batch cooking and keeping leftovers. But now I use reusable lunchboxes instead of cling film and sandwich bags. I’m trying to use glass, Kilner jars rather than plastic ones.
Clingfilm is perhaps the biggest cause of single-use plastic waste from the kitchen, and we all use it without a second thought. However, there’s no need to worry about how you’ll preserve leftover food without cling film as there is plenty of alternatives on the market. One popular way of wrapping food is to use reusable beeswax wraps. You can mould it with your hands to fit the shape you need, then wipe them down when you’re done and leave them to dry. The wraps also contain natural preservatives to help your food last longer. I also have a steel Hydratem8 pot (This post isn’t sponsored by them I promise!) which I use when going out an about.
Say No to the Dish Brush
It’s important to remember the hard plastics in your kitchen as well as the soft ones like cling film. Dish brushes are made of the same material as toothbrushes and we dispose of them regularly. Unfortunately, they can take up to 100 years to decompose in a landfill. One sustainable alternative to the dish brush is to use a bamboo option, which is one of the best reusable materials.
Recycle Your Kitchen
If you’re thinking about getting rid of your kitchen, you might be tempted to throw it in a skip without a second thought. However, this is incredibly damaging for the environment. Most kitchens can be recycled and reused and you can even use a professional service such as to sell your kitchen hassle-free and make money too!. By selling your used kitchen, you and your family will have a full year of living carbon neutral – there is a video in the link above which explains this.
Utensils and Storage
As your utensils break, replace them with wooden or stainless steel alternatives. Don’t throw something away just because it’s plastic – use it until it breaks and then replace it with a more sustainable option. For your food storage, don’t hoard Tupperware – store food in glass jars and label them. Not only does this look good, it’s much better for the environment! Interesting fact: you can also freeze food in glass jars, just make sure to leave a gap at the top to allow room for the food to expand.
How do you reduce plastic waste in your home? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
This blog post is in collaboration with Kitchen Exchange who challenged me to share my tips for Plastic Free July