Ready, Steady… Zero (Waste)!
Veganism aside, the kitchen is an easy and effective place to start if you’re ready to reduce your impact on the environment. A lot of tips focus on how you shop and where you buy from, but it’s not always possible to shop local or buy in bulk when you’re working with a tight budget. Below are six simple steps you can take that don’t require investing in any new fangled gadgets, or making any huge changes to the way you cook and eat.
Before you go any further, we reckon it’s easiest to start with a clean slate. That’s why we challenged our E-Commerce Marketing Executive Craig to use up what he had in his fridge and set a shining example for everyone. True to his Lancashire roots he opted for a stew, which is a great way to use up any vegetables that are starting to go a bit wrinkly. Soups, pasta sauces, risottos and chillis are perfect for this too! Craig… We’re impressed.
Once you’ve cleared out the fridge, it’s important to remember that it’s not just about the fresh stuff! Dry and frozen goods go past their best eventually, and you’ll need to know what ingredients you’re working with if you want to plan your meals successfully. For example if you’ve got a tin of tomatoes from a WWII ration pack then it’ll be time for bolognese, or if a box of plant-based sausages are in danger of turning to cardboard then sign yourself up for bangers and mash.
The easiest way to reduce food waste is to avoid generating it in the first place. By writing up a meal plan every week before you go to the supermarket, you’ll be much less likely to be drawn in by delicious deals, and you’ll be able to take portion sizing and leftovers into account. Cooking in bulk is cost- and produce-effective, because it means you won’t be left with a single courgette (who decides what gets sold in multipacks?!). If you get bored of eating the same meal a few times in a row, then there are ways of revamping: you could spice up a hotpot and turn it into a chilli, or practically everything can become a soup if you believe in it!
If your compost or food waste bin is constantly overflowing, then you might be treating it a little bit too generously. You shouldn’t scorn your scraps – they’ve got a lot more going for them than you’d expect. There are all kinds of snacks you can make with peels or purees like vegetable peel crisps or dehydrated fruit bark, but if you’re feeling more low maintenance then . You can also hack the system and grow WHOLE NEW FOODS from the tops or seeds of your produce! Read all about growing your own here. P.S.: a lot of fruit and vegetable peeling happens for vanity reasons alone! People have turned their noses up at me eating a kiwi with the skin on before so it’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely worth googling whether you need to waste all that goodness – skins and stems are often packed with nutrients, too!
So obviously step one is to get rid of the plastic – clingfilm is the devil’s non-recyclable work and we’ve evolved way past the need for it! Reuse packaging like jars to store leftovers in if you can, or use glass storage boxes. If you’re desperate for a more direct replacement of clingfilm then reusable soy wax wraps or stretchy silicone lids are a good shout, but baking paper is at least biodegradable, and tinfoil can be recycled (but make sure you scrunch it all together to make a big enough ball to be picked up!). It’s not just about how you store things though – it’s a good idea to move the older things to the front when you pack your shopping away to avoid things getting forgotten about, and you should always keep cupboards and fridges sparkling clean – it’s almost like they can sense that it’s where they’ve come to die, and things will go off sooner if there are mouldy bits knocking about!
In the famous words of Papa Roach: “cut your veg into pieces, and compost as a last resort”. If there’s nothing – and we really do mean nothing – left to do with your scraps or leftovers, then you can at least dispose of them properly. It’s important that you check how your food waste should be disposed of with your local council – not everywhere offers specialised composting, or you might have to pay an annual fee for the bin. It’s well worth it if you can afford it, but if not then you can learn how to DIY here!
How else will you be keeping your kitchen green this Earth Day? Let us know via social media or in the comments below!