5 Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste in the Kitchen

The kitchen is a really easy place to start on your journey towards zero waste. Just a few simple changes to your shopping routine and the way you operate in the kitchen can dramatically reduce the amount of plastic you consume here.

1 Remember your shopping bags when you go shopping. Big, sturdy bags for groceries and smaller bags for loose fruit and veg or smaller items you don’t want to lose. Producing a cotton shopping bag has a bigger carbon footprint than producing a single-use plastic bag. Consequently, you need to use a cotton shopping bag 150 times to make it start paying its way in the world. A single-use plastic shopping bag will tear after a few uses. After about ten years it will start disintegrating into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic. A cotton shopping bag will stand the test of time. Considering I use mine at least once a week and I’ve had some of them for ten years, that’s about 520 uses, more than making up for the carbon footprint of their production. There have been reports recently about cloth shopping bags being less hygienic, but I just put mine in the wash every so often to keep them clean.

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2 If you eat meat, take your own containers. Morrison’s supermarkets are now allowing customers to use their own containers. Or you could find an independent butcher who will let you use them. Eating less meat is also good for the environment. Maybe try picking one day of the week to have a meat-free meal. Lots of people have Meat-Free Mondays and there are some really delicious vegetarian meals to try.

3 Look for recyclable or reusable packaging when shopping. This might mean altering your shopping routine a little or trying some new shops. Lidl, for example, sell porridge oats in paper bags. You can also reduce your plastic waste by buying the largest amount of a product you can rather than lots of smaller bags. Most supermarkets sell really big 3kg bags of pasta. This is a lot less packaging than buying 6 x 500g bags. We reuse our giant pasta bag once it’s empty for lining our kitchen bin. Similarly, we also shop at our local Asian supermarket for giant bags of rice, which are either paper or fabric, and spices in bulk.

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4 Use a refill shop if you have one locally. If you don’t, an online shop like Plastic Free Pantry, might fit the bill.

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5 Ditch clingfilm. There are lots of reusable food storage ideas on the market, such as beeswax wraps, soya wax wraps, silicone covers, stacking boxes etc. Personally, I don’t like buying new products if I have something already that will do the job. We put leftovers in a bowl and cover with a plate (or, vice versa, on a plate covered with a bowl), or we reuse a jar to store things in the fridge.

What one thing could you do today to reduce plastic waste in your kitchen? Could you ditch the clingfilm today and find some other way of covering that bowl or wrapping your sandwich? Could you remember to put a shopping bag in your handbag or rucksack today in case you do any shopping whilst you’re out and about?

Let me know how you get on reducing your plastic waste today.

 

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2 comments

  1. Also, I reduced my plastic waste in the kitchen considerably by going vegan (no more pesky single use plastic containers that cannot be recycled!) Not to mention cutting my carbon footprint in half, considering 85% of all soy grown is fed to farmed animals, I’m very happy to be reducing my harm on animals and our planet. Thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sophie, thanks for your comment. I’ve just been discussing this on BBC Radio Newcastle this morning (though there wasn’t time to say everything I wanted to!). In our family, we’ve been reducing our meat consumption to a max of three meat meals per week and any meat we do consume we buy from a local butcher who lists the provenance of his meat on his shop counter. This means I know exactly which local farm our small amount of meat has come from. I like supporting our local farmers and shops and I like being able to see that the cows that provide our beef have had lush green fields to roam in and been cared for properly by a responsible farmer. We also consume some offal products, because it is important to us that if we eat meat then there is as little waste as possible. We have very few bulk options here, so our lentils, chickpeas, etc come in plastic packaging and we also take into consideration the fact that they have been grown abroad and transported a long way to get to us. I totally support a vegan lifestyle, but I don’t think we could go completely vegan in our household. Personally, I eat very little meat. The less meat I’ve eaten, the less I feel like eating it. However, we have three growing, very active children (gymnastics, dancing, martial arts) who aren’t very keen on alternative options, so to ensure they get the right levels of protein, iron and calcium, we have found a middle ground that works for us. I hope that answers your question. 🙂

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