After tips on how to achieve a plastic-free bathroom, we’ve decided to focus on another really important room in the house: the kitchen! You may not enjoy cooking or baking, and may not have drawers full of different shaped cookie cutters or appliances, but however minimal you may be, we’re guessing your kitchen still holds a pretty high number of items/utensils. How many do you have that are made from plastic?
Utensils and containers
Even though you may not be a ‘Masterchef’ or a ‘Star Baker’, we’re sure that you still have quite a number of basic utensils in your drawers or hanging above your counter tops. Plastic-free living doesn’t happen over night, so don’t just start throwing plastic items away to replace them with wooden or metal utensils. Phase them out little by little and replace them with more sustainable alternatives when the time comes. Same thing goes for non-stick pans (as the non-stick coating is actually a type of plastic). Age pans out and substitute them with stainless steel or cast iron instead. Remember, eliminating plastic from your kitchen, and in particular from items that are in direct contact with edibles, will not only be good for the environment, but will also ensure that no plastic toxins have access to your food!
Which is why another thing you need to phase out in your quest for a plastic-free kitchen is Tupperware! Switch to alternatives such as glass mason jars. Repurpose old food jars, wash them out and make a DIY label. Jars are perfect to store all sorts of dry goods such as pasta, rice, cereals, herbs, spices and anything else you can fit into them.
As well as storing package free dry items, glass containers (as well as cloth bags) can also be used as freezer bags. If you’re worried about the glass breaking, don’t be! Just leave an inch at the top to allow space for the food to expand when freezing.
If you are already storing leftovers in glass containers that’s great, but do those containers have a lid or do you cover them using single-use plastic? It’s estimated that the average family goes through 24 rolls of cling film per year. Swap cling film with environmentally friendly alternatives such as beeswax wraps, tea towels, inverted plates or bowls, or stretchy silicone lids that adapt to different size containers.
In most of our homes the cupboard under the kitchen sink is full of cleaning products, most of which (if not ALL of which) come in plastic containers. The best thing you can do is to start making your cleaning products yourself. It’s quick and simple and most recipes utilize inexpensive ingredients (such as for example baking soda or vinegar) that most of us already have in our pantry. Making your own products will not only help you cut down on plastic packaging, but it will also save you money, cut down emissions, and allow you to know exactly what you are using to keep your kitchen and your home clean and smelling beautifully.
If you don’t have time or you don’t feel like making your own detergents, look around and choose products that come in recyclable containers, for example cardboard boxes, or, better still, research shops that have refill stations for washing up liquids, laundry liquids and all-purpose cleaners.
Set on one particular brand that can’t be found in refill stations? Buy in bulk! Cleaning products don’t normally have an expiration date and since you will always use/need them, why not look into purchasing a bigger carton size, which will significantly reduce the number of containers you will end up using in the space of, for example, a year.
Once you’ve decided what route to take as far as detergents and washing up liquids go, turn your attention to what you put your cleaning products on. Are your brushes and sponges also made of plastic? Replace them with wooden dish brushes, and plastic-free sponges which can be composted once they are no longer fit for purpose.
Open the fridge, or open you cupboards and see how much of the groceries you bought are packed or wrapped up in plastic. Make smart choices when doing your weekly shopping. Prioritize purchasing package-free products over pre-packaged foods, and when choosing pre-packaged items, choose those that come in containers that can be reused, repurposed or easily recycled.
Bring a muslin bag with you every time you shop and use that to purchase package-free fruit and veg, or items that can be found at refill stations (for example nuts or candy).
Package-free shopping is not only a great initiative because it cuts down on useless containers, but it also cuts down on the carbon footprint of food, as people have the choice to purchase only the amount needed, as opposed to being forced to buy a pre-packaged quantity that would risk being thrown out or getting spoilt.
Of course, bring bigger bags to use to carry everything home, because remember, biodegradable plastic bags are still plastic, so don’t get fooled in using those thinking they’re sustainable because they have the word ‘biodegradable’ in front of them. They aren’t! Always keep a reusable bag stored in your handbag or backpack so you never find yourself without.
It doesn’t happen overnight
We’ve said it before and we’ll keep on saying it: Big lifestyle changes like these don’t happen over night. Start small.
Start from always having a bag with you when shopping, look around for refill stations or try out DIY recipes so that when your current washing up liquid finishes you already have a plan and know which plastic-free alternative you’re going to replace it with.
Look into your pantry for jars that are big enough or that will be useful for freezing or storing certain items. Start putting labels on them so that when you empty them of whatever they are currently holding, you won’t risk throwing them away.
It will take time, but it will be worth it and the planet will thank you for it!