Every year the average EU citizen throws out 16 tons of waste. Since only 40% of the things we throw out are recyclable, this means an awful lot of trash in the landfill. From wasted food to excessive packaging, the kitchen is one of the biggest sources of household trash. Here are a few simple ways you can reduce your impact.
Say no to disposable plastic
Start by shopping with reusable bags. They are cheaper, stronger, and won’t be withering in a landfill in a 1000 years. Hit up the bulk aisle and store pantry items like flour and pasta in glass containers. They will keep better, look nice on your shelves, and most importantly, seriously reduce your plastic waste.
Be smart about recycling
Think of recycling plastic as a last resort, as a lot of the time recycled plastics are downgraded, and turned into cheap plastic bags, which eventually end up in the dump anyway. Go for glass or metal packaging when possible, as these can be recycled with no loss of quality. Hang onto reusable packaging when you can. Those old jam jars make great containers for leftovers (and excellent cocktail glasses).
Learn to save less than fresh ingredients
From freezing fruit to pickling veg to drying meat, there are plenty of ways to save produce that is on the turn. Embrace your freezer, try a dehydrator or blitz veg and fruit that’s looking less than fresh for a soup or a smoothie. If you’re the kind of person who instinctively throws something out when it’s looking soft or is past its supermarket sell-by date, try experimenting with simple recipes to save ingredients. If something is really past it’s prime, have a compost bin ready.
Buy less, and buy local
Supermarkets are designed to encourage us to buy a lot in one go, which is a huge cause of food waste. Find local grocers and visit them regularly for fresh items like fruit, veg, bread and meat. It’s easier to find inseason produce this way, meaning fresher more nutrient-laden produce. It also keeps money in your local economy. Be open to buying wonky looking fruit and veg that may otherwise go to waste. Since rearing meat has a huge environmental impact, consider cutting down your consumption and buying organic. If that pushes you over budget, build up a good relationship with your local butcher, as they can usually recommend ways to use less popular cuts that save you money (and mean for even less food waste).
Get creative with leftovers and scraps
Did you know you can regrow spring onions by putting their white stems in a glass of water? Or that you can use orange peel to ward off mosquitos in summer? Or crisp up stale chips in just 10 seconds with the help of a microwave? If you’re about to throw something out ask yourself (and then maybe the internet) if there is anything you could do with it. You might be pleasantly surprised.
You can also find many delicious recipes that make the most of your leftover ingredients, or helpful tips to help you waste less.