Plastic Free July is a fantastic initiative that aims to reduce plastic pollution, but can seem overwhelming on first glance! After all, plastic hides in many products, making swapping them out harder than first thought.
Luckily, there are many easy swaps to make in the kitchen. We have been running a single-use-plastic-free kitchen for over 12 years, so have found many solutions along our journey.
Lose the packaging
The UK suffers from excessive plastic packaging so reducing your consumption is an important first step. Opt for loose fruit and vegetables wherever you can and bring your own cloth/paper bags to hold everything. Should you have no other option, make sure the packaging you do purchase is recyclable – some local councils will recycle them for you, but if not, there are also schemes such as TerraCycle that can help.
There is also a growing number of zero-waste or bulk stores dotted around the UK. Most have a wide range of food cupboard products, fresh produce and cleaning materials, as well as staples like oils. All you need to do is BYO containers!
Forget the clingfilm
How you store your produce can make a huge difference to your sustainability efforts. Replace your clingfilm with alternatives – when heating or storing something in a bowl, why not place a second, close-fitting plate over the top to protect it?
Opt for reusable glass or stainless steel containers, instead of single-use takeaway containers, and ensure that all produce is stored to encourage longevity. For example, place herbs in glasses with a little bit of water and store in the fridge – this will help them last longer.
Re-evaluate your everyday essentials
Unfortunately, plastic is often hidden in plain sight, in places like tea bags. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives! Once you run out of your current supply, look for brands that offer plastic-free items – Clipper’s Teas is a great local example. You should also be looking to eliminate the use of straws, plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups by replacing them with reusable alternatives.
Clean up your cleaning act
Food safety is of the utmost importance in any kitchen, but this isn’t a mutually exclusive concept with plastic free. Once your existing dishwashing brushes and sponges fall apart, replace them with alternatives made from materials such as bamboo and loofah. This plastic-free pledge also applies to your cleaning liquids. There are a number of brands offer recyclable packaging but our favourites are Delphis Eco. Their bottles are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, transforming your discarded milk bottles into new products.
Bin your binbags
Black plastic is particularly bad for the environment, as it often can’t be recycled. Currently, the material that’s used to colour the plastic makes it unrecognisable to the sorting systems at recycling plants, leaving it to be discarded as general waste. Swap out your normal black binbags for a biodegradable option. Better yet, divide your waste into recycling, food and general. This way, you’re not filling up your general waste with items that could be reused or transformed into something else, reducing the use of the bag in the first place. It’s also worth checking what type of waste your local council collects – you never know what they could be offering!