*This is a contributed guest post.
Plastic is becoming more of a problem for our environment, with a recent study finding that there could be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050 if we don’t reduce our use of plastic right now. This month, it’s Plastic Free July. This is a huge campaign designed to encourage people to stop using so much plastic and last year two million people took on the challenge, with more expected to take part in 2018. One of the main culprits of household plastic waste is the kitchen. If you don’t believe that, take a look around your kitchen and count how much plastic you can see – you’ll be surprised! Here are some simple ways to reduce plastic in your kitchen.
The journey to becoming plastic free begins at the supermarket. We’re all too familiar with buying produce wrapped in plastic, especially fruit and vegetables. However, this is incredibly damaging to the environment. To combat this, an environmental group, Plastic Free Planet created a Plastic Free Trust Mark, to be displayed on packaging which has not used any plastic. This trust mark is not yet widely used by supermarkets, although Iceland will soon be the first chain to use it thanks to their plan to make all of its own brand products plastic free by 2023.
In the meantime, there are lots of other ways that you can avoid plastic whilst you shop. You can visit your local butchers or deli and ask them to put your purchases in your own containers. For fruit and vegetables, buy them loose and if you want to keep them covered, choose a paper bag rather than the plastic ones on offer at the supermarket. If you’re buying for a party and you plan to use straws, buy paper ones or stainless steel ones rather than plastic.
Lastly, don’t forget your reusable bags. Yes, we all had a little moan at the 5p bag charge but it has drastically reduced the use of plastic bags! If you’re always forgetting, try leaving one bag in your car boot, one in your porch or by your front door and one under your desk at work. That way, you’re always covered for a spot of shopping.
Change Your Hot Drinks
A lot of people don’t know that tea bags contain plastic, but they do. If you think about how much tea we drink in the UK, that’s a lot of plastic going to waste. Don’t panic though, if you’re going plastic free there’s no need to give up your daily cuppa – just seek out plastic free tea bags instead. Both the Teapigs Temple tea bags and Pukka Tea do not use plastic and instead use materials like a cotton string to seal them. Coffee drinkers can do their bit too. You should avoid disposable coffee pods and use refillable ones, or stick to a good old-fashioned coffee pot instead.
Avoid Cling Film
Saving leftovers is thrifty, but using cling film is actually not great for the environment. It’s something that we use all the time without a second thought but it is actually the biggest contributor of single use plastic waste from the kitchen. One of the best plastic free alternatives to cling film is beeswax wraps which can be moulded to suit different shapes. When they are no longer needed, just wipe them down and leave them to dry. Not only are the wraps eco-friendly, but they also contain natural preservatives which helps to keep your food fresher for longer. If you need to warm something in the microwave, use a plate rather than cling film.
Skip Plastic Utensils and Storage
Don’t forget about the hard plastics as well as the soft ones. We are all prone to buying plastic utensils as they are the most widely available. The dish brush, in particular, is horrible for the environment. Dish brushes are made from the same material as toothbrushes and they can take over 100 years to break down. There are bamboo options available on line. If you are regularly storing food in Tupperware, swap them for glass jars. You can even freeze food in glass jars if you remember to leave a bit of room at the top for the food to expand.
If you have lots of plastic utensils, don’t throw them all away. Use them until they break and then replace them with more eco-friendly options. Throwing them all out at once will do more harm than good for both the environment and your wallet.
Recycle Your Kitchen
If you are looking to change your kitchen, you don’t have to throw it on a skip. You can recycle your kitchen and ensure someone else makes good use of it by contacting a recommended re-seller such as Used Kitchen Exchange. They will handle every aspect of the sale for you to ensure that it is hassle free. Plus, when you recycle your kitchen, you and your family will have a year of living carbon neutral. Guilt free and you might even get to make a tidy profit! If you haven’t decided on your new kitchen yet, you could also buy a used or ex-display kitchen from Used Kitchen Exchange.
What steps are you taking to reduce plastic in your kitchen?