An environmentally friendly kitchen should be on everyone’s wish list! After all, everything we do in the kitchen has an impact on the environment. These 17 steps are measures that we have already taken in our kitchen. Not only were these steps easy to take, they’ve cost us nothing – in fact they have saved us money. It is for these reasons that we’re recommending that you consider taking the 17 simple steps.
Going Green Is A Journey
Obviously these steps will not make your kitchen the utopia of sustainability, but they will help the environment. Going green is a journey we have begun. We started in our kitchen as it is the heart of our home.
Create Less Waste
There are so many ways to reduce waste in the kitchen. Ideally the goal should be to produce zero waste, for the following reasons:
However, as mentioned before, making your kitchen environmentally friendly is a journey and here are some simple steps to reduce waste.
1. Take your own bag when shopping.
This will also save you money as the cost of a plastic bag will shortly be increasing from 5 pence to 10 pence.
2. Avoid plastic packaging
Fresh foods often (not always) have no packaging. Alternatively, take a look at Marks & Spencer who are extending a trial of its refill scheme where shoppers can fill their own containers with food.
Hopefully other supermarkets will follow suit. However, some towns are fortunate and have zero waste shops and local farmers markets tend to have stalls with no packaging.
3. Only buy what you need
It’s easy to get carried away by special offers at supermarkets, in particular their BOGOF offers. Only buy what you need otherwise the items you purchase are likely to get wasted.
4. Recycle packaging or re-use it
There’s a wealth of information on the internet on how to re-use tin cans, glass jars and plastic containers. For example – egg cartons and yogurt pots can be used for growing seeds; plastic takeaway containers can be used for freezing or storing leftovers in the fridge; and cans can be decorated and used for plants, herbs, kitchen utensils, pencils, etc.
If you have no use for the packaging, then be sure to put it into the correct bin for recycling or disposal.
5. Store food correctly
Make sure that food items don’t get pushed to the back of a cupboard and forgotten, as they are likely to go out of date.
6. Be inventive with food
Use up leftovers. Delicious dishes can be made using food left over from previous meals. A classic example is Bubble & Squeak. I remember eating this most Mondays following a roast dinner from the previous day.
7. Portion Control
Don’t over estimate what people want to eat and place too much food on their plates. It’s far better to freeze the remainder of a dish than to throw away what’s been left on a plate.
8. Donate food
If you have packaged food that you’re not likely to eat, then give it to someone who will. Food banks welcome donations (for your nearest Trussell Trust food bank click here). Alternatively, look for local charities that support the homeless. If you are a caterer with left over food, then click here for charities that may be able to make use of it.
9. Disposal of waste food
If you still are left with waste food – which, to be truthful, is quite likely – then just dispose of it responsibly. If you have a garden, then certain waste food items such as peelings, coffee grounds and egg shells can be composted. A number of local councils provide bins just for food waste.
10. Avoid tea bags with plastic
Some tea bags are sealed with plastic and as a result up to 25% of the tea bag is made of plastic. Given that we British drink in excess of 60 billion cups of tea a year, that’s a lot of plastic! Many supermarkets are looking at an environmentally friendly alternative now, and Aldi sell plastic free tea bags quite cheaply. Alternatively, you could go back to drinking loose leaf tea.
11. Buy a reusable mug
Admittedly, this incurs a cost – but you don’t have to buy an expensive one. And many cafes offer a discount if you use your own mug. The chart below shows how long it takes a coffee cup to decompose – the start of your green journey should definitely include the purchase of a reusable mug.
12. Say no to plastic bottles
This is quite a simple step to take. After all, here in the UK we can boast of having some of the safest drinking water in the world. Keep a container of cold water in the fridge for drinking at home or for filling a water bottle to take out.
13. Ditch the plastic drinking straw
Another simple step to take to help the environment. Plastic straws harm the environment and there are plenty of alternatives from bamboo to stainless steel.
14. Use an alternative to plastic cutlery
Plastic cutlery does not biodegrade and cannot be recycled. To be environmentally friendly, alternatives have to be used. There are alternatives readily available and they do not cost much more to buy.
To encourage you to take the above steps to reduce kitchen waste, the chart below gives an indication of how long it takes specific items to decompose.
Reduce The Carbon Footprint Of Our Food
Food production is responsible for a quarter of the world’s greenhouse emissions (Our World In Data). Interestingly, there are large differences in the greenhouse emissions of different foods. For example, producing a kg of beef emits 60 kg of greenhouse gases whereas producing a kg of peas emits just one kg.
15. Reduce meat in our diet
Becoming a vegan would obviously be the most environmentally friendly and compassionate course to take, but not everyone is prepared to take this step. However, a simple step to take would be to eat meat on alternative days. For ideas on what to eat on non-meat days take a look here.
It is worth noting that much needs to be done outside the kitchen as there needs to be drastic changes to farming. Factory farming is, after all, the biggest cause of animal cruelty on earth (Compassion in world Farming)
16. Shop locally
The ideal scenario would be for us all to shop locally. Unfortunately this isn’t feasible for a number of reasons – including the fact that it usually costs more to buy from a local farm shop. However, market stalls can be a cheaper alternative, even if you just buy your fruit and vegetables there.
It is also worth bearing in mind that consumer demand means that we have products from far away because we cannot grow them here. We also demand foods from abroad because they are out of season in the UK. The government has suggested that putting a low CO2 sticker on food would give the consumer the choice to choose an eco-friendly product over another. This would give us another way to be environmentally friendly when choosing foods to purchase.
17. Grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs
Even if you don’t have a garden, some produce can be grown on a patio or a kitchen window cill. No food miles and fresh produce – what more could you ask for? Naturally there are some produce that take a while to grow but others, such as herbs and salad vegetables, take little time at all.
Lastly, there are so many benefits of growing fruit trees – from eating organic fruit to reducing the greenhouse effect.
The 17 simple steps detailed above are activities that we’ve already taken to make our kitchen environmentally friendly. It is the first stage of our growing green journey. We have listed our goals here. In future blogs we will share our experiences, good and bad, on how we get on. Please let us know if there is an area we may have forgotten.