7 Tips to be Green & Avoid Waste (Kitchen Edition)
2020, What a rollercoaster this year has been. I write these words as I struggle to try to find the right way to call this year. CHALLENGING for many, for some more than others, but it has been a global challenge.
However, challenge often brings change. Hopefully, many of us will “come out of this” with a new moral sense of duty. The momentum that the “zero waste” and the “no single-use plastic” movements had in 2019 has somehow staggered over the last few months.
We, as a community, have reverted to a world in which clean and sanitised sometimes means disposable. Which is mostly a misconception, has anyone heard of washing containers, plates, cups and cutlery with hot water and soap? Convenience over common sense, sadly.
However, there are a few simple tips you can follow at home to help you be more conscious with your waste and to ensure you get your money’s worth. Food shopping and home cooking don’t have to be a tedious, expensive and wasteful chore, on the contrary.
Plan your weekly meal menu, and buy only what you need
It is easier than you think, I usually take a few minutes every Saturday and plan out our meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week ahead. This way, you avoid the “what’s for dinner today” daily question – and you can also prep food in advance, saving time and money.
Based on your weekly menu, you can then work on your shopping list, taking into consideration all the things you need for the week. Fewer trips mean less milage, and a plan gives you direction. Stay on plan! Don’t deviate. Pro tip: never go shopping in an empty stomach, you will end up buying extra food and snacks.
Sometimes you buy a bunch of coriander or fresh parsley for a meal and use only half of it. Then you end up placing the other half in the fridge and forget bout it – until you find it completely dead and useless a few days/weeks later. Stop! Chop and freeze. By freezing it, you are preserving its freshness, and you can use it later on while making another meal. No more wasted fresh herbs dead in the fridge.
Lemons, limes, oranges what to do with their peels? Throw it away? No! Say bye-bye to wasting these precious little bits of fruit packed with delicious natural oils and scents. Pop them into a jar with white vinegar and leave it “brew” for a few weeks. Then drain the peels away and add half water to the amount of vinegar. Use this mixture to clean your surfaces without the vinegary smell. Natural and your peels get a second life before retiring to citrus heaven. PRO TIP: add some bicarbonate soda to surfaces with stubborn grease marks and then spray the mixture on top. Oxi-Action right there!
Leftover Soup or Broth
It doesn’t sound like the most delicious thing ever, I know, you can rebrand it and call it something else at home. The idea is you can use leftover pieces of garlic, onion, leek, carrots, etc. to make a nutritious vegetable broth or soup. If you make the broth, you can then freeze silicone ice cube containers and simply pop into your favourite dish when cooking. Not only you will add flavour but also all the nutrients from the veg – sneaky the kids won’t know.
You can also opt to blitz it all together, add a splash of cream and make a vegetable cream soup! Perfect with a slice of sourdough bread during the autumn.
If you don’t have enough time or space to freeze, you can always compost all the vegetable peels, eggshells, leftover fruit, etc. Avoid adding any animal or dairy products (meat/milk) to our compost. However, they are 100% biodegradable they can attract unwanted pests, especially if you have your compost bin outdoors.
Also, beware of adding grains like cooked or uncooked rice. Cooked rice can provoke the growth of unwanted bacteria, and uncooked rice can attract rodents.
Last but not least, never add Walnuts to your compost. It may seem harmless to add this plant-based product to your compost. However, walnuts contain juglone which is toxic to some plants. Using walnut in your compost today could kill your plants tomorrow.
Buy Products with Less Packaging
It may seem simple, but many omit this when doing their weekly shopping. The less packaging your food has, the less waste you create. Try to avoid pre-cut fruit and veg. Not only it is more expensive, but it also comes in unnecessary amounts of plastic and tends to have a shorter “shelve-life” in your fridge.
Consider buying items in bulk, such as nuts and grains. Many supermarkets now have this option, and if not many corner shops are now embracing the package free lifestyle. Bring your own reusable bag or use paper which can be recycled.
Also, consider alternatives to pressurised products like whipped (squirty cream) or cooking sprays as these cannot be recycled due to the residue.
Don’t Stress, It Takes Time
Living green takes time, takes a lot of re-learning and researching. It is not going to happen overnight. Do some research, find local farms you can buy your produce from. This way, you are buying local, helping your community and minimising food miles. Win-Win for everyone.
Find what works for you. Not every green tip will work for you, adapt and evolve, find your happy balance. Also, don’t fall in the trendy trap and think you have to go buy everything green and dispose of everything you have. The best way to be green is to reuse what you already have. Every little change helps.
Thanks for caring for the environment, thanks for researching, reading and learning.