An act which we depend on plastic for, but don’t necessarily need to
Many of you will have heard about Plastic Free July, the global movement to refuse single-use plastic for the entire month of July 2019. Hopefully you have already signed up and this piece will give you some tips to use from July onwards. So make sure you sign up today!
Plastic has reached mainstream media and is highlighted in the news almost on a daily basis. Everyone by now is very aware that straws are bad and reusable coffee cups are good. But it can’t end there. With more and more people tweeting, sharing and talking about plastic pollution we hope to can keep momentum by supporting initiatives and avoiding single-use plastic.
The food industry has a long way to go and needs to take more responsibility for the waste food packaging produces. Recycling plastic packaging is an essential way for the UK to save money. By not recycling our plastic products it costs around £78 million a year in landfill costs. This money could support local authorities to provide other services the UK need. While saving energy and developing new plastic production methods.
So check out a few ways to avoid plastic in the kitchen once the food is in the house. Please share with us if you have come across any more great ideas!
Avoid using sandwich bags, cling film and foil. Keep jars from jam, chutney, olives that can be used again. You can make your own tomato pasta sauces, chilli or curry sauces from scratch and freeze them in portioned jars.
Keep presentation boxes and tins from Christmas (think Celebrations and M&S festive biscuit tins). These are great for home baking, or if you have a freezer big enough, for big food batches. These can also be taken to zero-waste stores for things like pasta and cereals, they usually stack easily so can be kept in cupboards.
This is subject to space of course, but freezing is king. As mentioned above bulk cooking and freezing in portions is great way to cut down on plastic. Buying big means less plastic, items will come in boxes, tins or less plastic. Then cut up and store at home. For a busy, working family this can save time and energy mid-week preparing meals. Cooking from scratch (usually) results in less packaging and using the jars and boxes you’ve kept above you can store these without buying plastic sandwich bags or plastic boxes.
If you are lucky enough to find local fresh fruit which isn’t wrapped in plastic bulk buy and freeze these too. Our advice is to chop items like strawberries and bananas into bite-size pieces, lay them on a baking tray on top of a tea towel, freeze, then transfer into a glass or reused container. This way they won’t stick together and you can grab as many as you need.
Buy a fresh loaf from the bakery section and cut it yourself, either keep in a cotton or paper bag, or freeze it once sliced to keep for longer.
Freeze fresh herbs in an ice-cube tray with olive oil. Rather than buy a plastic wrapped packet of chives, get yourself a window box and grow your own herbs. If you’re not ready to use them when they’re in their prime cut them and freeze them in water. They will keep and your mini forest can keep delivering the goods. We recommend buying a stainless steel or aluminium ice-cube tray. But if you have a perfectly good plastic one then don’t throw it out!
Learn where your food should live
A lot of people have a strange notion that all fresh food should be kept in the fridge as it will last longer. Many fruits and veg have different places to live, so find out where best to store your veg and you won’t end up having to buy more.
Invest in some organic veg bags to keep vegetables together. Keep onions and potatoes in a dark, cool cupboard ideally away from any machines (fridge, oven, dishwasher) as these exert heat and can increase decay.
Below are some specifics to store different veg;
- Artichokes, carrots, and celery live in closed jars of cold water in the fridge.
- Store avocados, strawberries, figs, and any other berries in a paper bag or organic veg bag outside the fridge and away from heat.
- Keep beetroot, cucumbers, green beans, and radishes dry in open glass containers or glasses covered with damp towel in the fridge.
- Store cauliflower, herbs, and cherries in dry, closed glass jars in the fridge.
- Keep sweetcorn, snap peas, spinach, and cut melon in open glass containers in the fridge, or these can be frozen.
- Cabbage, aubergine, and spring onions can in the fridge normally.
- To keep lettuce from wilting lay it out on a tea towel after washing, roll it up and tie with rubber and or string and keep in the fridge.
Switch to reusables
Say goodbye to clingfilm and foil. Refuse to buy it ever again and find reusable alternatives. There was a time without them and there will hopefully be a time that supersedes them.
- Invest in some beeswax wraps – these are a great washable alternative to clingfilm and you can buy kits to make your own wraps at home. These will not last forever, so you may want to consider different alternatives. Check out a review of DIY kits here.
- Invest in some silicone stretch lids. Silicone is natural and does biodegrade (even if it does take a long time). These are durable and great for stuffing leftovers in the fridge or keeping half filled tins.
- Take your lunch in reusable bags like KeepLeaf. They are dishwasher friendly and are organic and sustainable.
- Invest in glass, bamboo or steel containers rather than plastic. There are so many options now, so find something that suits your taste as well as your lifestyle.
These tips should not only reduce your single-use plastic pollution, but should save you a few pounds in the long run. If you come across any additional tips please share with us here on on our Instagram! And join us in making efforts to change outcomes.