10 Simple Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste in Your Kitchen.
How much time do you spend in the kitchen? It is one of the most popular rooms of the house and for good reason – it is where the food is kept!
When you consider how much time is spent in the kitchen, it should be no surprise that it is one of the rooms that produces the most plastic waste.
From the plastic bags that our food is packaged in, right through to the way that we clean. There are a lot of simple changes that we can make to avoid so many products ending up in landfill. And small changes add up! A lot of people making little changes can make a big difference for the planet.
Great things are done by a series of small things brought together” – Van Gough.
The best way to reduce plastic pollution is to reject single use plastics like plastic bags, straws and plastic water bottles for more environmentally friendly options.
I have put together a list of simple ways that you can reduce plastic waste in your kitchen.
1. Reduce single use plastic bags;
Many stores have stopped supplying single use plastic bags- which is great! However, there are still many stores that continue to offer them, or give you the option to purchase a plastic bag. Most of these bags are used once and then go straight into landfill. And we don’t NEED them because there are so many other options.
Reusable shopping bags. To avoid single use plastic bags, start carrying your own reusable canvas or mesh totes when you go shopping.
Some reusable bags can even fold up into convenient pouches that you can keep in your handbag or in your car. That way, whenever you are out, you have a handy and eco friendly shopping bag with you at all times. Check out this range of reusable shopping and produce bag options from Biome.
2. Switch your plastic cling wraps for reusable options.
Instead of sending school lunches encased in cling wrap, make lunches into “nude food”. Use brown paper bags or baking paper to wrap sandwiches or, even better, use sandwich containers that you can wash and re-use. These handy reusable sandwich and snack bags from Lunchskins keep your sandwiches and snacks fresh, minus the plastic.
Rather than wrapping perishable items like cheese, fruit halves and leftovers in plastic wrap to keep them fresh in the fridge, consider switching to beeswax or silicone wraps. Cling wrap is used once and then thrown in the bin after use. Beeswax wraps can be used over and over again. Vegan silicone wraps like these ones from Agreena are a fantastic eco-friendly substitute for cling wrap. They can be washed in warm soapy water and reused- they are also super clingy!
Consider using glass or stainless steel bottles and containers to store and transport food, rather than disposable wrapping or throwaway containers and invest in some good microwave and freezer safe containers for snacks and meals. I use these amazing insulated lunch bento boxes from Makia’s World to transport my lunch and keep it hot or cold.
Over time, these reusable options will save you so much money by reducing your spend on single use plastics.
3. Ditch plastic produce bags.
I have never been able to figure out why so many fruit and vegetables are re-packaged into unnecessary and wasteful plastic trays and wraps. They have their own biodegradable packaging (aka, their skin!). They simply don’t need to be covered in plastic too!
Even if you are buying loose fruit and vegetables, chances are they are still being placed in one of those plastic produce bags to transport around the shop. Right? The bags are placed in the aisles for convenience, but are terrible for the environment.
Instead, consider placing loose items directly into your trolley, or purchase a few reusable produce bags to store your produce in.
When selecting your groceries online, try to select loose produce where possible. Your supermarket may give you the choice of basket to bench with online orders- cutting out the plastic bags, or you may be able to return the bags for a refund.
Choosing a reusable bag instead of a new plastic bag every time you shop means you consume less plastic over time- and it is much better for the environment.
Q: How do I store my bags in the fridge without plastic bags? Lettuce and other leafy items can be soaked and then stored in a damp canvas bag in a bowl before being placed in the fridge. Or you can use produce containers or the crisper drawers in your fridge. There are lots of great tips online for storing different types of produce without plastic.
4. Say no to straws!
Straws can be fun, right? Especially for parties, kids or a fancy drink. But, they are not biodegradable- meaning they cannot be broken down. Plastic straws end up releasing harmful chemicals into the environment which is bad news for humans, plants and animals alike.
Of all the ways to reduce plastic waste in your kitchen, this is the easiest. When you need straws, consider using reusable silicone straws like these ones from Lime Tree Kids or these Klean Kanteen stainless steel ones and ditch single use straws.
5. Change the way you clean.
Instead of using single use plastic bottles of household cleaners with harsh chemical ingredients, try using reusable bottles and make your own cleaners.
It is not only cheaper to make this switch, it is also much better for your health and better for the environment. Alternatively, purchase refill bottles where you can, rather than purchasing a new bottle of cleaner every time.
- For a natural all purpose spray cleaner for benchtops, mix one part vinegar to three parts water and a few drops of your favourite essential oils. You can also use vinegar to clean floors and bathrooms.
- Baking soda is cheap, non-toxic and is usually stored in a biodegradable cardboard box. It also has many great uses. It is a great stain remover and can be used to scour that won’t scratch surfaces.
- Try to source natural cleaning sponges and cloths, rather than plastic or synthetic cloths that don’t break down.
6. Buy in bulk and make your own snacks.
Ditch individually wrapped and pre-packaged snacks in favour of homemade. Not only will you reduce the amount of unnecessary waste, but you will also have a healthier snack. And, you know exactly what ingredients have gone into them.
Making snacks in bulk to store in the freezer saves you time and money. Instead of buying individually wrapped muesli bars or snacks, try making your own homemade versions. See a full list of healthy lunchbox snacks here.
Buy in bulk; Avoid foods in pre-portioned packages and buy in bulk instead. Rather than buying a large pack of mini chips, popcorn or biscuits, buy one single pack and portion them out into containers. This applies to anything you can buy in mini packs. Buy your yoghurt in one large tub and spoon it into containers for school lunches. This makes a huge different in the amount of plastic waste you consume.
Recycle your paper, magazines, newspapers and junk mail. Glass bottles and jars. Milk and other cartons. Cardboards. Plastic bottles and aluminium. These items can all be placed into the recycling bin at home.
Recycling services differ depending on where you live, so it pays to check with your local council to see what can be recycled in your area. There are also many initiatives where you can take your soft plastic items like plastic bags, bread bags and pasta bags that can’t be recycled at home to your local supermarkets.
8. Compost your food waste.
Rather than throwing your food scraps into the bin, turn them into compost!
Composting food waste greatly reduces the amount of garbage you create- which in turn reduces the amount of plastic garbage bags you need to use. Having a composter helps turn organic scraps and leftovers into nutrient rich fertiliser that you can use in your garden. Your plants will love it!
Composting at home;
I have just purchased an Urban Composter Bokashi Bucket and can’t wait to get started! It is made from recycled materials and is airtight to stop smells. All types of food scraps can be added, including veggies and fruits, meat, fish, egg shells, coffee, dairy, citrus, flowers and more!
Bokashi is a Japanese composting method which uses microorganisms to ferment food scraps so that they quickly break down when buried in soil. It is a simpler process and results in less odour and mess associated with traditional composting.
9. Grow your own food
Where possible try to grow your own fruit, veggies and herbs. Many herbs and veggies in the supermarkets are wrapped in unnecessary plastic. However if you are growing your own at home, you are reducing the need for packaged produce. And they are so much more nutrient rich and tastier than store bought- especially if you feed them with your compost!
10. Give up (single use) bottled water.
Bottled water is a problem for so many reasons. Not only does the water come in wasteful plastic bottles, but the energy and resources that go into bottling and shipping them is crazy. And you are basically buying REALLY expensive, filtered tap water! Why pay for it when you can get it for free?!
Grab yourself a reusable, stainless steel drink bottle and take it with you wherever you go. Fill it up before you leave home and refill it whenever you need- there are always taps around! For reusable travel mugs, check out these stainless steel and silicone travel mugs from Makia’s World.
Teach your family to reduce plastic waste in your kitchen and home.
Lastly, get your family involved too! Teach and educate your family on the changes that you are making, as well as why you are making them and how they can contribute. Get your kids involved in the recycling process, composting, gardening and helping to make your own snacks. The more involved they are, the more likely these changes will stick in your household- and hopefully the next generation will be even more mindful of plastic waste.
So, there you have it! 10 simple ways to reduce plastic waste in your kitchen.
It is amazing that you are considering a more plastic free lifestyle. However, don’t be too hard on yourself. Plastic is all around us. Sometimes, it is unavoidable. Choosing to be plastic free can sometimes be more effort. But, over time you will get used to these changes. You will also become super prepared and over time you will consume less plastic, saving a lot of money in the process.
If everybody made even the smallest of changes, it would add up to a lot less plastic waste ending up in landfill and in our oceans.
I hope that this guide has given you the information you need to start living with less plastic.
If you found these tips useful, then perhaps someone you know will find them useful too. Please feel free to share on social media.
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