YOUR GUIDE TO A MORE SUSTAINABLE KITCHEN
As is becoming abundantly clear, sustainability is an issue for everybody. We all live on this beautiful planet and therefore we have to do our small part to look after it. All you have to do is turn on the news or do a quick google search and you’ll be bombarded with some truly terrifying stats about the havoc wreaked by consumer habits.
I know from experience that thinking about sustainability and the plight of the environment is sometimes entirely overwhelming and can leave people feeling helpless or like they have no idea where to start. But, in reality, small changes really do accumulate to have a huge impact. So, what are the small tweaks that you can make, you ask? Well, I decided to start by looking at just one area that little changes could equal big impact, the kitchen. Now, we all eat every day, multiple times a day, so your kitchen is a great place to start making things greener! Here are a handful of habits to make your kitchen a bit more eco-friendly.
Power yourself with plants:
All signs point towards more plant-based diets as the best we can do for the environment. Although for some people, the thought of veganism is enough to bring on cold-sweats, even committing to meatless Monday is a huge step that would drastically cut meat consumption and associated environmental impacts. There are so many ways that you can cut down on meat, from having veggie lunches through out the week, not buying or preparing meat at home but being more flexible when out, or even challenging yourself to try vegetarian or vegan for a certain period. Food that celebrates vegetables is delicious, a lot cheaper and so much more sustainable.
Look into eco-cleaning products:
From home-made cleaning alternatives made with things like lemon and baking soda, to more eco-conscious brands, there are many ways to reduce the amount of chemicals in your kitchen. Spare a thought for what goes down your sink and in your dishwasher as these semi-toxic substances are pumped straight into the ocean. (Bonus points: use bar soap instead of bottled hand wash to reduce plastic as well)
Shop seasonally, and never underestimate leftovers:
Print out a list of what local produce is in season when and try to stick to it. This means you’ll save money (because in-season produce is cheaper), get the best out of your fruit and veg and possibly experiment with new ingredients. You’ll also not be contributing to shipping produce from various corners of the earth which is an unsustainable practice fuelled by consumer demand for all produce anytime of the year. Also try not to waste any food. Next-day curries or stews are often even tastier!
Ditch the paper towel and switch to re-usable cloths:
Although paper towel is recyclable, all the plastic it comes wrapped in is not so eco-friendly. Instead, get yourself a cloth that you can use to wipe surfaces. If you get a few, you can throw dirty ones in with your washing load and ensure you always have a fresh one knocking about.
Get yourself a compost bin:
Most local councils will provide these if you ask. So why not separate vegetable scraps and make your own compost? It is really way easier than it sounds and it is a great (free) way of keeping your plants healthy and happy, whilst not producing any waste.
Re-use your food jars as storage containers:
Instead of throwing away old jam jars, reuse them to house nuts, make overnight oats or even to hold your utensils and wooden spoons. Up-cycling old jars is practical and sustainable!
Boycott the plastic at the supermarkets:
This one is a no-brainer. In addition to bringing along reusable bags, go for loose produce that doesn’t come wrapped in ridiculous amounts of plastic and bring your own little bags to keep them separate. Also try and prioritise items that come in cardboard or jars as these are much more readily re-used at home. Remember there is power in your purchases and demand dictates what appears on the shelves. Being a conscious consumer is more influential than you think!
Buy in bulk
Like the previous swap, try and buy things in bulk. Ideally, visit a zero-waste or bulk shop that lets you bring your own containers and jars (another way of recycling them) for nuts, flours, pasta and even spices. But, you can also buy big bottles of shampoo, large tubes of toothpaste and big bags of rice which means you get more uses out of one product and end up buying these plastic-wrapped products less frequently.
Hopefully these tips show you just how easy it can be to make your kitchen habits more sustainable. So start small, maybe do one of these things and gradually build up to doing more. The key to making your life more sustainable is doing what you can when you can, and just being a more conscious consumer overall. If we all think a little bit harder about how we shop, what we eat and what we wear, the impact could be incomprehensibly positive. No one is perfect, and even your small change should be seen as a huge achievement!
This article is written by Stay Wild Swim family member Hannah; a university graduate with a passion for all things writing, animals and environment. Hannah works with environmental NGO's and wants to protect the ocean as it reminds her of how beautiful and power nature can be. Follow her on instagram @hannahcoogans and on her website at https://theutterlyclueless.wordpress.com/.