We all want to be more eco-friendly don’t we? Sometimes the prospect of creating a sustainable household can be a little overwhelming so our advice is to start small and eco-charge just one room at a time! And what better place to start than the kitchen?
So here are our top tips on making small, sustainable changes to your kitchen-living to reduce your footprint on the planet. We know that making these changes can look a little costly on the face of it, but our experience tells us to look at the longer term value of these changes before making a decision. Yes they may involve an initial outlay, but when you compare the cost over a life-time (e.g. cost per use) the results can often be surprising. So we try to think about overall value rather than price!
Here are the top 7 tips on creating a sustainable kitchen:
1. Reduce Food Waste
As they say … a little bit of waste goes a long way! Whilst this hasn’t exactly become a household saying, what we mean is that not only is our food waste causing an increasing impact on the Earth … it is also hitting our pockets! And its impact is much greater than we think! Each bit of food we throw away has to disposed of in some way. Unless we’re dedicated composters, that means throwing it in the bin and sending it off to landfill or some other waste management programme. All of this uses extra time, energy and resources to process what we didn’t need in the first place!
Whilst we may not all have the time, keeping a brief diary of our food waste for a week can often highlight the scale of the problem and point to the areas we could most improve on. Our diary showed that we often ‘over bought’ on staple foods like potatoes. This was because multiple people in the household did the shopping and picked up what they thought we needed. Our simple solution – we planned our meals each week and kept a shopping list on the fridge for any items we were running short on. This meant that we didn’t ‘double buy’ any items. Some bright spark suggested we used Alexa to keep the shopping list … but I haven’t quite figured that out yet!
So our quick tips for reducing food waste are:
- Keep a diary – look at which items you waste the most and why
- Plan you weekly meals – so you know what to buy and when. Look at the use-buy dates and check they will last until you will eat them.
- Re-use leftovers – a bit of ‘bubble & squeak’ always goes down a treat.
- Preserve food for longer by making sure it is stored correctly, i.e. in air tight containers, in/out of fridge (according to guidelines for each product).
- Eat imperfectly – Wonky veg and mis-shapen fruit are just as tasty and usable as their more aesthetically pleasing counterparts.
2. Ditch the single-use
Take a look at all items that you use once and then bin. Aluminium foil? Kitchen roll? cling film? straws? All items with perfectly re-usable and sustainable alternatives. Straws are often in the news as we unite against the use of plastic, but if you like your milkshake with a straw then there’s no need to go without. Simply swap the disposable straw for a glass or stainless steel one.
Instead of opting for aluminium foil or cling film to cover those leftovers or wrap the sandwiches – opt for one of our stainless steel food containers or reusable sandwich wraps. Switching to either cotton or beeswax wraps is one of our favourite swaps. Not only are they practical (and eco-friendly), they are also stylish and colourful!
And as for kitchen roll – why not give one of our ‘unpaper towels‘ a whirl? Or look for a sustainable alternative such as our forest-friendly bamboo kitchen towels.
3. Use Reusable Grocery Bags
We are all trying to say ‘no to plastic’ but often we’re left a little unprepared at the local shops when we pop in for a pint of milk. Opt for a foldable cotton bag as an alternative and pop it in your pocket so that you are always prepared. They can be reused again and again. Our favourite are our ‘Saree Bags‘ that are made (unsurprisingly) from recycled sarees. A bit of international upcycling at its best! And if it’s food storage that you’re after, we use our organic cotton produce bags to transport and store all of our veggies in. Not really the most difficult change to make in life now is it?
4. Buy Locally and Grow Your Own
Woah … grow our own? I didn’t think that I had the time (or the interest to be honest) to grow my own food but it turns out I really didn’t know what I was talking about. Not only are there some super-easy options to grow our own veg, we don’t need a huge garden to do it in either. Just a window sill, window box or a little space on the patio, and hey presto … tasty, healthy food that is about as ‘local’ as you can get!
But if you can’t grow your own then opt for buying local produce. Not only are you supporting your neighbouring communities, you’re also significantly reducing the ‘food miles’ that it takes to get your lovely veg on to your plate. And don’t forget that looks aren’t everything … the wonky ones still taste great! Take a look at our tips on ‘10 Foods You Can Grow At Home‘.
5. Buy Sustainable Sponges and Tableware
Sometimes we don’t 100% understand the impact of our buying decisions so we opt for the cheapest version on the shelf. That means we tend to have more items in our kitchen that are made from things such as plastic, sponge and non-recyclable materials. But remember … the cost on the price tag doesn’t reflect the value of the item or indeed the cost to the planet!
We switched our sponge-based cleaning products for items such as the Eco-Coconut scourers and re-usable none sponges. That way our daily washing up and kitchen cleaning duties became a whole lot more sustainable with just a simple switch. We also look for alternatives to plastic such as bamboo tableware for the youngsters in the family. Not only are they more eco-friendly, they also add a bit of fun into our mealtimes!
6. Eco-Charge Your Cleaning
Traditional cleaning materials can often contain countless chemicals and abrasive substances that not only harm the environment, but also propose a risk to our health and well-being. Making a simple switch from your usual washing powder to an alternative ‘planet-friendly’ product such as the Ecozone Soapnuts or Emma’s Laundry Soap can make all the difference.
Companies such as Bio D, Ecos, Attitude and Ecover manufacture high quality cleaning products that ‘don’t cost the earth’. We use the Ecover Multi Surface Spray and Attitude Washing Up Liquid as alternatives to traditional cleaning products. Now when I say use … I have to admit that I’m not using them everyday. But that says more about the cleanliness of my kitchen than the usability of the products!
7. Buy Organic
At Qbamboo we are huge fans of buying organic food. Not only is it better for our health (none of those nasty chemicals) it is also so much better for the environment. Link to article about organic benefits. You don’t have to be perfect but make a few changes at a time. Sometimes these products are less affordable but here’s why – the farming methods are less reliant on chemicals. Can we afford the negative impact on the environment instead? The more expensive the food the more it makes us think about whether we really need it i.e. reducing waste too!