3 EASY WAYS TO REDUCE PLASTIC USE IN OUR KITCHENS
Perhaps more than any other room in the home, the kitchen is a haven for plastic waste. From the excessive packaging of supermarket food to the cleaning products that come in plastic bottles to the materials that make up the majority of kitchen equipment, it seems the kitchen is the one room that has plastic everywhere. It’s certainly the room that produces the most waste. However, it’s also home to a wealth of opportunities to change your habits and swap those wasteful products and practices with lower impact alternatives. So here are 3 EASY WAYS we've identified so that you can have a more sustainable kitchen!
1. LET'S START WITH THE CLEANING!
Most people use washing up liquid, a sponge or scourer, dish cloths and maybe a spray bottle, bleach or other range of chemical cleaners. The first thing to mention about cleaning is that most products are very similar. For example, your multi surface spray cleaner is chemically just a diluted version of a thicker bathroom cleaner. The difference is purely in the marketing – the products essentially operate the same as each other. Some zero waste advocates even suggest white vinegar as the only necessary cleaning product for the home.
Stripping back the cleaning cupboard to just the essentials is a great way to reduce your plastic consumption. Buying a concentrated cleaner further reduces plastic as a little goes a long way. You can dilute and refill a spray container multiple times, instead of buying a new spray bottle every time you run out.
If you’re lucky, you might live nearby a zero waste store where you can refill bottles with cleaning products and limit your plastic consumption even more. If this isn’t an option, there is usually a more environmentally conscious brand available to choose from.
In terms of cloths and sponges, there are plenty of options of reusable products instead of disposables. Microfibre cloths can be reused multiple times and washed in the washing machine, and you can buy wooden dish brushes with replaceable and recyclable heads, or compostable dish sponges. Another benefit of reusables is that, though the initial cost may be higher than disposables, their life is far longer and you’ll save so much money in the long term.
2. THEN, THE PURCHASE AND STORAGE OF FOOD.
When it comes to food, the balance of consumer convenience, cost and plastic use really reveals itself. We all need to eat. Food is something we buy, prepare or take with us every single day. It’s not a once a month purchase like washing up liquid. When we’re on a tight budget or need something quickly, we don’t always have the luxury to go out of our way to find the most ethical option. Even with all the money in the world, there are other priorities to consider such as health benefits and taste.
It is completely forgivable to not be 100% zero waste with the food you consume. However, there are always easy changes available to limit plastic use. These include looking out for recyclable packaged food, buying loose veg at the supermarket or greengrocers and eating in restaurants rather than getting takeaway.
Another environmentally friendly area of choices surrounds the way you store your food. It goes without saying that anything single use is bad for the planet. Clingfilm for example, goes through a huge amount of processing, energy and emissions in its manufacture, yet it has such a short lifecycle. Most of us would probably agree that clingfilm is an inherently frustrating product too, constantly breaking apart or losing its end, causing extra waste and ending up in the bin before even serving its single use purpose.
Instead of suffering through this, use a reusable food wrap made of beeswax. They can be used in a variety of ways, covering food in a similar way to clingfilm or replacing a zip lock sandwich bag. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and their texture can be moulded around any shape so it sticks in the same way clingfilm does. Beeswax wraps have a breathable quality so they keep food fresh. They can be washed and reused again and again. By just replacing one food product like this, over time you’ll save plastic, money and of course time spent trying to pick apart the end of the clingfilm.
3. LASTLY, THE EQUIPMENT YOU KEEP IN YOUR KITCHEN.
Lots of household items have plastic elements, and if these are being used many times over years then their material is justified. However, if you’re looking to buy something new, you’ll usually experience higher quality, longer lasting and more aesthetic looking kitchen equipment if you look beyond the cheaper plastic end.
A wooden chopping board, metal knife set and metal cutlery always look sleek and simplistic and tend to be higher quality than plastic boards or knives with plastic handles too. If you ever experience breakage of a non-plastic item, it’s easier to recycle them too. Investing in quality and valuing your items is an environmentally friendly step in itself, no matter how small a change it may seem.
SO ALL IN ALL...
Zero waste is not something everyone needs to do perfectly, but if every person gave it a genuine attempt, we would see real change. As the demand for sustainable products grows, the more options we will see. If you like the idea of your own kitchen having a lower environmental impact, consider starting small. Swap your dish sponge for a compostable one, or your clingfilm for a beeswax wrap. The more changes you make, the more you’ll notice cost savings, less trips to take the bins out and of course, more of that wonderful proud feeling knowing you really are doing something important.