There are a number of really quick and easy ways to do this without suddenly owning a composter and cooking in the dark! Here are 10 quick ways you can start to make your kitchen more eco friendly straight away.
Switch to Eco & Animal Friendly Products
Traditional cleaning products are not good for us. As your existing products run out, start to replace them with eco-friendly and cruelty free alternatives. These are just as effective as the more well known brands but don’t contain harmful chemicals or bunny tears. Most mainstream supermarkets have at least one “alternative” brand on their shelves these days, such as Ecover, Method, BioD or Ecozone. If not, you can always stock up from a specialist online store such as ethicalsuperstore.com. It may take time to replace all your existing products, but remember the aim is to make your kitchen more eco friendly, not to increase waste by throwing stuff out.
Yes disposable cloths are easier and more convenient. But think how many of them you personally send to landfill. At a conservative estimate of 2 fresh cloths per week, that’s 104 cloths per year. Over 50 years of cleaning that’s 5,200 cloths from just your home! If we guesstimate that a pack of decent disposable cloths (10 pk) costs around £3 that’s £1,560 spent on cloths. Scary thought!
Alternatively a pack of 2 reusable cloths will set you back around £8 (EcoForce) and a biodegradable scourer £3 (BioD). Both should last at least 1 year. You don’t have to limit yourself to a single pack either – buy a couple of packs so that you can build up a “used” pile & wash them in bulk (also more eco-friendly). You’ll still have all the convenience of disposables but you’ll save yourself the price of a holiday & can feel good about your efforts for the environment!
Turn off the Tap
This is one we are all guilty of – running the tap over a plate while rinsing it off, or using water pressure to force grease to budge. Instead, fill the sink and wash up in order of grime: glasses first, then lightly soiled, then heavy duty. If you like to rinse before filling your dishwasher this lets you do so without wasting litres of water.
A friend swears by keeping her sink permanently half-full of water. Anyone returning a plate or cup to the kitchen, instead of letting it stand, places it into the sink for soaking. She rarely runs her dishwasher above the eco setting and her dishes never require scrubbing for air-hardened leftovers.
Switch off Appliances
Do you really need your microwave to tell you the time? Most of us live by the hour 00:00:00 flashing on the counter top. Why not switch your microwave on and off at the plug point when it’s needed. The same goes for ovens or other appliances that have display screens or standby lights. Not only will you save money but you’ll contribute towards more efficient power usage.
Most local councils now have recycling schemes that vary from simple (recyclable vs non-recyclable) to extreme (7 different bins). These can be mandatory or opt-in. If you live in an opt-in area then make the switch to simple recycling. Maybe you don’t have time to compost or separate waste into 7 different piles, but at the very least we can all place obviously recyclable items in a separate bin. In today’s age of online shopping this is so important – imagine how many Amazon delivery boxes reach London or Sydney or Boston every day!
Reduce Food Waste
There are some shocking statistics about the amount of food waste that modern UK households generate. Usually in the form of perfectly good fruit & vegetables that didn’t get eaten in time. This is something I was personally very guilty of and I try to solve the problem by never having more than 2 days of fresh produce and freezing meat before it expires. Yes, it means that we often have to go to the store on the way home to pick up the veggies (and remember to defrost the meat!) but it’s far better than the guilt I felt every Friday evening dumping several pounds of uneaten food into the bin.
Where possible look for the Fairtrade logo on your products. It’s pretty recognisable and most brands that carry it are proud to display it prominently. Next time you are in the tea/coffee aisle pause for a moment before reaching for you regular brand and check out the alternatives. The same goes for chocolate, fruit, vegetables and a host of other foods. There was a time when fairtrade was more expensive than “regular” but these days there are great bargains to be had, as demand has made these products more successful. Sainsburys, Tesco & Ocado all have wide fairtrade offerings right on the high street.
Buy Cruelty Free Animal Produce
Look out for the signs of a cruelty free brand on your fresh produce. Words such as organic and free-range are usually prominently displayed. Sure, they often come under fire from groups who consider them a licence to charge a higher price and companies have been accused of “greenwashing“. But we can all at least try to source ethically. Buy from locally sourced farmers – meat from abroad is often from animals transported in horrific conditions. And other countries do not necessarily have the same animal welfare standards. In the UK tracing the meat back to the farmer is very popular these days, as concern for animal welfare increases and these products are prominently displayed on most supermarket shelves.
Say No to Plastic Bags
Plastic bags are a well known environmental issue & a quick win for those keen to change. Keep a long-life bag in your handbag or invest in a cute tote from an organic cotton retailer. These can hold quite a few groceries and will reduce your reliance on store plastic bags. Several delivery companies now offer an incentive for returning your bags & if you shop locally you can always ask for a box instead. Encourage your family to say no to plastic bags rather than automatically accepting one each time.
If your food comes in containers that can be reused take a few moments to strip off the labelling and pop it in the dishwasher. The same goes for take out containers. I have built up a nice stack of food storage in this way & I don’t have to feel guilty about take out containers going straight into the bin. If you’re crafty you can always try upcyling them too.
Do you have any other quick wins for making your kitchen more eco friendly? Let us know in the comments section below.
Feeling inspired to make a switch? Check out the Home Essentials category on Ethicalfair.com for inspirational brands and products.