We all know by now that our planet is drowning in plastic. And yes, just thinking about how much plastic surrounds us in our daily lives, is enough to cause us eco-anxiety (read more on exactly what this is here). Although at times it can seem like an insurmountable issue, we each have the ability to make small, manageable and easy changes in our daily lives to help, even if it’s just in a small way.
Our kitchens in particular seem to be breeding grounds for plastic items. Though a lot of this is not an individual’s fault. According to the Henrich Boll foundation, packaging represents 45% of France’s plastic consumption. A welcome law was introduced at the beginning of the year meaning over 30 fruits and vegetables are no longer allowed to be sold in plastic. There are simple changes we can make too (if you haven’t already, that is).
To quote Nathaniel Branden, known for his work on the psychology of self-esteem,
“The first step towards change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”
So, just knowing that change is necessary is already starting the process. There, that wasn’t too hard, was it? Let’s take a look at a few more baby steps we can take towards making our kitchens plastic-free.
Watch out Tupperware: your scratched, stained and sometimes smelly days are numbered. A first very simple, and free, step is to change the way you store your leftovers. That’s not to say throw any perfectly usable Tupperware away of course. Do keep using it. The key is not to buy any new plastic for your kitchen. So when you’re next looking for food storage solutions, look towards food jars which, incidentally, come free with the food you’re buying inside them! They’re easy to clean, it’s easy to see what’s inside, and they have very effective lids which aren’t at risk of coming loose on your commute. So your pasta sauce jar can quickly become your leftover pasta salad take-to-work jar. Bonus: no chance of that dark, tomatoey sauce staining the glass jar. Double win!
The evil that is cling film! We move onto this devil, also known as glad wrap, saran wrap, cellophane… if only Ralph Wiley hadn’t accidentally created it back in 1933 when trying to create a spray to protect military planes from salty sea spray eh? Yep, true story. He wasn’t actually looking for a terribly wasteful film for protecting food so don’t blame ole Wiley! But alas, since then it has been a kitchen staple. But now is the time for change, and there are at least three easy options out there. Though not great in terms of resource use, our first option, similar in shape and use, is foil. Unlike cling film it is widely recycled and easier to re-use. Our second option is as old school as they come! The history of waxing fabric for various uses dates back as far as the Egyptians. Beeswax was first used to coat fabric and help protect food, ironically, around the same time as cling film was invented! Almost a century later and beeswax wraps are now taking Instagram by storm. You can make them yourself or buy any of the countless patterns (and vegan alternatives) available online. And our third option is reusable stretchy silicone lids. Unlike cling film it’s not a one size fits all solution, however they do stretch far and investing in a few different sizes should cover all of your covering needs.
Wake up and smell the coffee. Or the tea, as preferred. There’s no doubt that the way we consume tea and coffee, along with its advertising, has evolved a lot in recent years. For many, gone are the days of a teaspoon of instant coffee in a mug. So many private homes now have coffee machines with capsules (a certain Mr Clooney may have a lot to answer for in this respect) to produce everything from ristrettos to skinny caramel frappuccinos. Unfortunately a lot of these capsules can’t be recycled. The same goes for individual tea bags which (and this blows my mind) still sometimes come in individually wrapped plastic cases, before then being wrapped in a cardboard box and then, if you’re extra unlucky, another cellophane wrapper around that! ***link for letter to complain to a company about its packaging*** While that plastic is clear to see, some tea bags can also contain invisible microplastics. One easy swap is to invest in a stainless steel (and therefore good for life) tea ball brewer. Simply fill this with loose leaf tea, dunk it in your favourite china and Bob’s your uncle, a plastic free cuppa! The same goes for coffee. Instead of plastic capsules and a chunky machine taking up valuable workspace, how about a simple French press or Italian Moka pot and Fair-trade coffee bought from your local coffee shop (such as Satellite coffee)?
Dontcha just love to hang loose on the weekend? No stiff ties niggling your neck, no push up bras irritating your rib cage? Well, spare a little thought for fruit and vegetables. Maybe they don’t like to feel suffocated either? Instead of buying fruit and veg that is unnecessarily wrapped in extra plastic (especially when nature has so kindly provided natural casings already in many cases), either buy loose things and bring your own reusable bags to transport them in, or support your local community by shopping at your local farmer’s market and buying everything loose. Incidentally, the same goes for cheese and bread: the local weekly market in Morzine sells cheese wrapped in paper and bread totally naked or in brown paper bags! If you want to be bang on trend you could even shop there with your very own wicker basket (why not weave it yourself?!), a totally plastic free and extremely Instagramable shopping experience! There are plenty more local food options to explore here too.For extra brownie points consider the carbon footprint of the produce you’re buying and try to shop for produce which is in season (bonuses being it’s cheaper at that time of the year and you get to eat a wide variety of dishes throughout the year). You can see more packaging options on our green pages here.
Whose turn is it to do the dishes? What a welcome question, not! Fun fact: did you know that dishwashers actually use less water than washing up by hand? Whether you’re hand-washing with washing-up liquid or using dishwasher tablets, easy changes can be made. Similar to the tea bag scenario above, dishwasher tablets often come individually wrapped in single-use plastic. Avoid this by choosing brands which stay clear of unnecessary plastic. Similarly for washing-up liquid, why not buy in bulk and refill into an elegant glass dispenser, thus reducing the number of bottles (or rockets as some advertisers would like us to identify with them as) you use immensely? Check out our green pages here for more info on eco-friendly cleaning products.
Ease into these baby steps and who knows, you might want to make even bigger steps in the not-too-distant future.
Author: Ⓒ Tiny Travel Rebel