More and more people are on the lookout for ways to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, and there’s nowhere easier to start than at home. Every year, Brits waste around £9.7 billion of food, with each household throwing away an average of £356 in unwanted goods, to say nothing of the staggering amounts of single-use plastic and emissions from food transportation. Consequently, striving for a waste-free kitchen is arguably the best place to start, so read on for our handy tips to help you reduce the waste your kitchen generates.
Evaluate your plastic usage
To start with, instead of throwing away all of the plastic you use in a week, save it up. By the seventh day, you’ll be in for a shock, if you haven’t already shamed yourself into recycling it all. When plastic is improperly disposed of, it ends up in landfills, where it can take up to 400 years to decompose. From ready-meal containers and disposable coffee pods, to plastic-wrapped fruit and veg, it’s easy to overlook just how much food packaging we’ve become accustomed to. The shelves of Britain’s supermarkets held 900,000 tonnes of plastic packaging in 2018, but only one-third of that is recycled, which has dire consequences for marine life, who can get trapped inside or consume it.
Once you’ve made yourself aware of all the plastic you use, it will become much easier to start cutting down. For instance, you could start using reusable shopping bags or consider growing your own fruit and vegetables to reduce your usage of unnecessary plastic packaging.
Store food in sustainable containers
To avoid bringing more plastic into your kitchen, consider using sustainable food containers, made from materials like glass or metal, which can be reused countless times. In fact, you probably already have suitable receptacles in the house. For example, you can store dried goods like cereal, pasta and rice in glass bottles, or use old takeaway containers to freeze leftovers, rather than throwing it away outright. While the latter still involves the use of plastic, it does allow you to reuse the containers rather than throw them away.
Head to local farm shops and markets
Approximately 95% of all our fruit comes from overseas, and the transportation required to bring it to UK supermarkets contributes significantly to our national carbon emissions. Buying locally, be it from farm shops or markets, means your food has travelled fewer miles, and will be all the fresher for it. And as items are often sold loose, you have to bring a reusable bag to take your produce home. Aside from local farm shops, there has also been a rising trend of zero-waste shops, which enable customers to bring their own containers, weigh out exactly what they need, and take it home. Giving consumers the opportunity to buy the exact amount of food they need cuts down on unnecessary food and plastic waste.
While locally-sourced products are recommended, you could also grow your own produce. This eliminates any of the environmental risks associated with transportation. You could start off small by using growing kits, and soon enough, you’ll have a basket full of your own home-grown fruit and vegetables to cook with.
Prep your meals in advance
UK households produce 4.5m tonnes of food waste a year due to leftovers being chucked away, but you could reduce your contribution to that figure by cooking your meals for the week in advance. This ensures that you won’t need to buy more groceries until all your food has been eaten so, for instance, rather than using a handful of cherry tomatoes, aim to use the entire container in your meals over the week.
Preparing your meals that far in advance also means you’re less likely to buy fast food or takeaways, which are delivered in disposable plastic containers, and often come in oversized portions, both of which contribute to your overall kitchen waste. Some parts of food, like apple cores, egg shells and banana skins, can’t be eaten but can be composted, letting you put them to good use rather than throwing them away outright. We offer a range of easy home composting kits, allowing you to collect any used organic matter, including food and garden trimmings, and turn it into a nutrient dense fertilizer that could benefit your garden instead. Compost enriches your soil, eliminates the use of pesticides, and reduces methane emissions from landfill.