Beginning the journey to lowering the waste you create in the kitchen can be a minefield. Often the Kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where your hearty dinners are made, where friends will sit for a much-needed coffee and a catch-up. It’s also the one room of the house that never stays clean for more than 15 minutes ( just ours?!)
When tackling your kitchen, from cleaning products to food waste, it can feel like a mammoth task. But, with a few steps to ease you in, it can be a lot easier than you think.
Where to Start
Before you begin to throw away every plastic utensils in the draw that doesn’t ‘spark joy’ a-la Marie Kondo, the one thing to remember with a Low Waste lifestyle is that it is exactly that; Low Waste. If plastic Tupperware boxes are used countless times and have no sign of breaking, keep it, definitely don’t waste it!
The utensils you have are likely to be incredibly useful. Don’t be fooled by the Pinterest-style glass jars, prettily centred across a decorative shelf, this isn’t reality. A Sustainable kitchen means buying curry in a glass jar, using it up and washing said jar. Then, using it endlessly for another kitchen-related purpose – be savvy with what you already have!
With cleaning products, the likelihood is you have numerous plastic bottles sitting in the cupboard below the sink. This of course generalising, but it’ll be a high proportion of people! Tips I’ve found the most useful for drastically cutting cleaning-waste are:
Multipurpose Spray: Use Ocean Saver. They’re small pods of cleaning product that you pop into a spray bottle with warm water (can be a used one). The pod then dissolves, leaving you with a cleaning solution! Absolutely plastic-free and ocean-friendly ingredients too! I also have a previous post on a homemade anti-bac recipe: read here.
Dishwasher Tablets: A low costing and plastic-free option is SMOL; they provide a sustainable subscription service of tablets, posted through your front door. No nasty chemicals, no plastic and are cheaper than most supermarket tablets. Truly the best of both worlds.
Cleaning Rags: When it comes to rags, most shop-bought rags have tiny micro-plastics in the material. These can shed with every wash, thus polluting our oceans. Instead, if you have any old cotton t-shirts or even bed sheets (washed of course), instead of throwing them, cut them up and use as kitchen rags!
Reusable Dish Sponges: Ditch the yellow kitchen sponges, which go disgusting after a week or so. Switch to reusable / washable dish sponges! There is an array to be found on Etsy. They can be washed endlessly, have a lasting power far greater than the yellow ones! – Also saving you money too (lifestylesavingtechniques.co.uk has some great lifestyle saving tips, for more on this topic!)
Food & Food Waste
The topic of food waste is far larger than what can be covered in this post alone, I have written a lot more in-depth on the subject: here, if of interest. But, I do have a good few tips to make the weekly food stretch that little further.
Keep Food Scraps: Food Scraps can be used in a whole host of ways instead of ending up in the bin. For example, leftover vegetable scraps can be boiled in hot water for an hour to create vegetable stock (as well as potato peeling, being cooked in some oil at 180°C for 25mins to create homemade crisps) Even egg shells can be blended to create dust, which can be added to smoothies for extra nutrients! Whatever food scraps you have, it’s worth googling ways to use them.
Don’t be fooled by the Pinterest-style glass jars, prettily centred across a decorative shelf, this isn’t a kitchen reality.
Composting: If you are needing to throw food away, it is worth looking into composting. If you have a garden, creating a compost bin is an incredibly sustainable way to discard scraps yet help the environment create vital nutrients from the things we throw away. (If, like me you live in an apartments, this is a whole lot harder and is something I’m looking into – so stay tuned!)
Check the Label: With the foods you do buy for the fridge and freezer, one of the most sustainable things you can do is eat it all! Which does sound ridiculous, but food waste is a incredibly large problem; check the labels, eat what goes out of date first or alternatively freeze as much as possible.
Food Storage: Did you know plastic cling film is not recyclable? as it is so thin, it is known to tangle in recycling machines, therefore is simply sent to landfill. To avoid this, yet still cover food you may want to eat another day, switch to such things as beeswax wraps, or simply placing a plate over a bowl! Use what you have, there are many other things that can be excellent covers.
In an effort to keep this article as short as possible (despite it being incredibly long already) I am going to conclude my Sustainable Kitchen tips. This, of course, is just a drop in the ocean to everything an individual could do, and I most probably have missed out on a couple of obvious tips too. But, here is some inspiration to begin to tackle your kitchen. Streamlining it to a more eco way of working – I do hope it was of help!