You have decided to become more sustainable. You may have started by changing your clothes shopping habits or switched your skincare routine. But now you want to change things within your home but might be wondering how to get started. A good start could be your kitchen! Indeed, we tend to spend a lot of time in our kitchens and a lot of waste can be created through food shopping packaging, cooking tools, cleaning products and everything else. It can be. I might not always be obvious, but our kitchen habits can have a big impact on the environment.
Please keep in mind that this article has been written to help, please do not feel anxious or worried if you do not follow all tips. The best we can do for the planet is do our best every day, rather than do too much at once and abandon.
Low waste fridge and pantry
1-Buy loose fruits and vegetable.
A nice way to buy your vegetables loose is to go to a farmer’s market. Sadly, not everyone has the time (or will) to go to a farmer’s market every Sunday at 7am to get their weekly veggies. Luckily, more and more supermarkets offer loose vegetables. You might also want to check your local farm shop, you could be surprised about the selection some small independent shops offer. Another possibility is to subscribe to a fruits and/or vegetables box. Many companies now offer subscription based vegetable/fruit box deliveries that provide good quality products without all the added plastic. A good example is Abel&Cole boxes. They are delivered every week, you can modify the content if you do not like as well as add products if you feel like it. They are very careful about their environmental impact and always try to lower their carbon footprint. You can find them at: https://www.abelandcole.co.uk/.
2-Buy in bulk.
In the past five years, bulk shops have appeared all over the world and the concept is amazing. You come in with your jars and bags and fill them up with what you need, then pay by weight. This process avoids overconsumption and avoids throwing tonnes of packaging after every shopping trip. If you do not have a bulk shop near you, you could instead buy your favourite ingredients in bigger quantities. For example, you could buy a three kilos bag of flour instead of three bags of 1 kilo. It is really easy to find dry ingredients in larger quantities all over the internet.
If you have to buy some of your food in packaging, try to go for food in paper, aluminium or glass packaging. All of them can be recycled. Glass jars can also be reused as drinking glasses, to make jam or as containers.
4- Try to reach for plant based options rather than meat and dairy
It is not a secret anymore, animal products have a huge environmental impact. To lower your footprint, you might want to look into plant-based alternatives. They have drastically evolved in the past 5 years to the point where you will not feel like you are missing out on anything by switching to a plant-based diet. Plant-based products are very accessible now, so you will not have to go out of your way to find what you need. A first step could be to get oat milk delivered by your milk delivery service. Milk&More offers the best oat milk ever, so give it a go!
Tools and utensils
1-Use everything until the end
The easiest and most effective way to lower the waste you produce is to use everything until the end instead of constantly buying new things. It might sound obvious but use your utensils and appliances until they cannot be used or repaired any more. If you absolutely want to upgrade a certain appliance, try to donate it to someone who needs it and will use it all the way.
2-Try to buy second-hand or refurbished appliance and utensils whenever you can
Do you need a pasta machine or a dehydrator? Instead of running to amazon to purchase what you need, try to look for second hand alternatives. You can easily find good quality and barely used items and second hand websites.
3-Buy tools that last
When you buy utensils and appliances, take the time to do your research and buy items that will last you a long time. If you need something quickly, it might be tempting to buy a cheaper option on amazon, but please take your time. There are amazing quality pans, blenders and pepper mills out there. By buying a good quality item, you won’t have to replace everything so ofter, and you will have a good time using tools that work wonderfully well.
1- The freezer and the fridge are your friend.
You have cooked a delicious meal, you enjoyed it with your family, and it was amazing. Problem: you have tons of food left over. Please do not throw anything away. You can start by eating some leftovers the next day. It there is still too much, freeze it! It will make for a delicious lunch on a lazy day or to take to work. Even if only a very small quantity, they can be included into a new dish at a later time. For example, you could incorporate leftover veggies into a new soup or leftover tofu into a warm bowl of ramen.
2- Upcycle food scraps
We know that food scraps do not sound like the most appetising thing in the world, but there are many ways to use leftovers in delicious ways. A very common way is to make bouillon out of veggie scraps and peels. You simply need to freeze your scraps and peels, and once you have a good amount, boil is all together. And boom. You just go yourself a 5 stars homemade bouillon! Just get creative!
3-Composting food scraps
If you cannot up-cycle it, simply compost it. You can even set up your own recycling system in your garden. It is quite simple and there are a lot of tips and tricks on the internet to do it well. If this is not a possibility for you, you can get your food waste picked up by the council as part of the bin system. Generally good things to compost are: eggshells and boxes, raw fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds and coffee filters, small amounts of garden waste (e.g. prunings, weeds), old flowers and plants and small amounts of sawdust and shredded paper.
Hopefully all these tips will have inspired you. And don’t forget, your journey towards sustainability is your own and does not have to be rushed. Sustainability doesn’t look a certain way or have a particular aesthetic. Use what you already have, make smart choices about how and what you purchase in the future, and enjoy the journey!