The Ultimate Guide to Your Plastic-Free Kitchen
We’ve talked before about bathroom’s being a particular plastic hot spot within the home and we provided some top tips on making steps towards a plastic-free bathroom in that particular Ultimate Guide. However, there is another part of the house that can harbour a lot of plastic and that is the kitchen.
When you actually think about the plastic products that are lurking in your kitchen right now it’s probably quite an astonishing amount. It may even be hard to find one part of the kitchen that doesn’t have some form of plastic in it.
In the UK over 2.2 million tonnes of plastic packaging is placed on the market each year. Whilst some of this can be recycled, a lot cannot and it’s this type that is mainly found in the kitchen. Plastic bags, food containers, packaging and cling film are the main contenders. It is thought that these may be more problematic to recycle because of food waste contamination and other physical factors. However, the main reason is because of how costly the process of recycling is. Each year only around 14% of plastic packaging is even collected for recycling globally…..that’s truly shocking.
So, how do we address this? At &Keep we’re on a mission to help you to make more sustainable choices and to let you know about some products that can aid your transition to a more plastic-free lifestyle. Let’s take a look at some great swaps that you can make in your kitchen so you can reduce your plastic footprint and start saving the planet today 💚🌍
With UK supermarkets still not doing enough to reduce the amount of plastic they are producing each year, it’s worth thinking about the way we shop. Whilst it may seem like a faff to buy your groceries in different shops, it is the best way to get quality products as well as reducing the amount of plastic packaging that you’re taking home.
Smaller, independent shops tend not to use excess packaging and try to think more sustainably, with the number of refill shops on the rise. Buying fruit, vegetables and other groceries loose is a great way to cut down on unnecessary plastic packaging, as is bringing your own fabric shopping bag to carry your items home. It’s also nice seeing familiar faces when you shop locally and you know exactly where your money is going. By supporting independent businesses, you buy into that sense of community which is really important.
If you do need to shop at the supermarket, choose loose fruit and veg (not forgetting your reusable produce bags!) and take your own containers for the deli, fish and meat counters.
Most pre-mixed cleaning products you find in the supermarket contain over 90% water with the active ingredient (the bit that does the cleaning) making up only a fraction of the mix. There are now lots of products on the market that you can mix at home, in your own bottle, that only include the active ingredients you need to get your kitchen sparkling clean. The added bonus is that many of these active ingredients are plant-based so there are no toxic nasties to worry about. Swapping your cleaning products to refills saves a lot of plastic right there!
There are also lots of great recipes online to make your own cleaning products. Just be sure to check them carefully as mixing some natural ingredients together can actually cause a toxic reaction!
For every cleaning product you use in your kitchen, you’re going to need a cloth or scourer with it to get the best results. From re-useable and biodegradable dish cloths to compostable sponges, there are so many clever, eco-conscious companies out there making great products that actually outlast traditional ones.
Unfortunately, your dishes won’t wash themselves, but if you’re tired of unsightly plastic bottles taking up space at your sink, you can use a washing up soap bar instead. Tough on grime, yet gentle on the planet, they can also be used to take stains out of clothes, spot clean your carpet and as a kitchen counter cleaner. We love a multi-purpose product, especially when it also smells great.
So, you’ll not only get a clean kitchen, you’ll save money! What’s not to love about that?!
Storage containers, food wraps and cutlery
Most kitchens are bursting at the seams with plastic food containers and sandwich bags, especially if you’re a parent. Whilst plastic container options are re-usable, they’re still not great for the environment because of the processes involved in making them, the fact they leach toxins into the food they store, the plastic degrades with each use and you have to dispose of them eventually. However, buying lunch, especially sandwiches and ready meals, also involves a lot of single use plastic which is exactly what we are trying to avoid.
But fear not, there are alternatives available that are totally plastic-free, compact and even look great too!
Designed for reuse and to reduce the need for single use items, there are plenty of sustainable swaps that will keep your lunch cool or hot and fresh. Wax food wraps are a great alternative to cling film and come as vegan or beeswax. You can wipe them down easily and if the wax eventually starts to wear, you can re-coat it yourself.
Also – let’s talk cutlery. Sometimes, when you’re eating on the go, you may forget cutlery and, despite many food outlets now opting for wooden instead of plastic cutlery, it’s still fairly wasteful. With the majority of hospitality venues no longer providing straws, it’s a good idea to keep a re-usable option with you. Some are made from totally natural products so they’re biodegradable which is great news for the planet!
Created by companies with a conscience, as well as a long-term view of how products, choices and actions affect the environment, a lot of thought goes into the design process. Many of these eco products are BPA, phthalates and lead free too, meaning they’re good for you as well as the environment.
If you love a takeaway coffee or just want to stay hydrated, consider buying a reusable cup or bottle for when you’re out and about, instead of buying single-use versions. You usually get a discount on your drink too if you bring your own!
So, whether you need a container for your snacks, require clever kitchen storage or are making multiple packed lunches, you can find a plastic-free option that works for you.
We’ve already talked about plastic-free cleaning products for your kitchen, but what about cleaning your clothes? Most washing machines are traditionally situated in the kitchen so we wanted to include laundry products in our sustainable swaps kitchen guide.
Now let’s dispel a little myth here – just because your detergent is eco-friendly doesn’t mean that it doesn’t pack the same cleaning punch as it’s supermarket counterparts. They simply use the power of nature to get results. Eco-friendly detergents come in all shapes and forms. You can even get dry strips that are ultra-concentrated and go directly into your washing machine, along with your clothes.
Many are vegan and all avoid parabens and phosphates, making them perfect for even the most sensitive of skins.
We’ve also mentioned our love of multi-purpose products, but that doesn’t stop at your dishes. There are laundry detergents on the market that can also be used as face and body wash or as an all-purpose cleaner. They are made using organic plant oils and glycerin which helps to lift dirt away naturally without the need to include any harsh chemicals, leaving you to smell as good as your freshly laundered clothes.
Even better than that, all plastic-free laundry products don’t contain any plastic in their packaging either. Whether it’s biodegradable or stored in a glass container, you’ll be able to fully eliminate plastic from your laundry routine.
We can all do our bit to reduce the amount of waste we create in our households. Whether that’s making compost out of your fruit and veg trimmings or it’s trying to avoid overloading the recycling bin by scaling back on single use plastic, waste is definitely a kitchen sticking point.
Whilst 87% of UK householders proudly state that they recycle, a recent freedom of information request revealed that an astonishing 11% of rubbish collected is being burned and not recycled at all. Lots of household waste will also end up in landfill, where it will be left to produce methane gas – something that is known to be damaging to the environment.
However, there are, at least, biodegradable bin bag options that will help to reduce some of the waste heading to landfill. Vegetable-based bin bags are a thing and they are incredible because, not only will they break down naturally over time, they are also super strong. Whilst we can’t fully change what happens to our rubbish once it is collected, we can implement small changes to the waste we produce, and how we store it, so that there is less likelihood it will affect the planet.
Tea & Coffee
We are a highly caffeinated nation. Unfortunately, lots of teabags contain plastic glue or the teabag itself is made of plastic 😱. With many big brands guilty of this practice, there are alternatives you can try, including organic cotton teabags. They’re reusable, washable and long lasting. Just pop your loose leaf tea into the sachet and enjoy a guilt-free brew whenever you fancy.
If coffee is more your thing then think about the packaging it comes in. You can get loose coffee at most zero-waste shops and weigh houses or some companies now use recycled packaging.
If you have a coffee machine then it’s also worth considering which filters you use. Many of the white coffee filters you see on the market have been bleached with chlorine. That chlorine is dumped in our lakes, rivers and streams, ending up in the ocean, not to mention we're drinking it! To avoid adding to that pollution and slowly bleaching your insides (joke), there are unbleached filters available that are just as good, if not better.
Baking & utensils
Kitchens are where you cook, bake and consume. And what do you need to do all three of those things? Utensils, of course! If you’re still fairly new to the sustainability game then many of your utensils will be plastic. That doesn’t mean that you should go and raid your kitchen drawers, throwing away any offending items. You can keep using the equipment you already have, but consider what you will replace them with when they reach the end of their life.
Bamboo is a great option because it is naturally stain resistant and anti-microbial. It also doesn’t impart or absorb flavours, making it a perfect kitchen staple.
Silicone is another great material for the kitchen, especially if you’re an avid baker. Not only is it hypoallergenic and non-stick, it’s BPA and BPS free, which basically means it’s safe for humans as well as better for the environment. Easy to clean and re-usable, silicone is a welcome addition to any kitchen.
There are many hidden plastics in products like baking cases and baking parchment. Using compostable alternatives is a great way to reduce waste and avoid plastic.
Something people often don’t consider to be a kitchen essential is muslin cloth. Not only can you use it for cleaning, but it’s excellent for squeezing citrus fruit, getting all of the moisture out of vegetables (perfect when making cauliflower rice) and sieving homemade jams. Multi-purpose….we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – we love a multi-purpose product!
We know that it can feel daunting when you’re trying to make sustainable choices. There are a lot of things to consider, but it’s really a case of making simple changes, one swap at a time.
Read packaging, learn about what you need to avoid and be open to trying new things. Despite our fight against plastic, we know that some is very hard to avoid, but if you do buy any then try to reuse it. Keep used containers and fill them with dish cloths, laundry strips or loose tea. If you’re feeling a little more creative then there are lots of ideas on the internet about how to make useful items out of plastic packaging.
Hopefully this information can be a starting point for many or simply a helping hand in an on-going journey towards a plastic-free home and a plastic-free life.
If you need any additional help or advice then send us a message and we’ll be only too happy to help.
Creating a better Tomorrow, Today.