It’s the area that we probably spend the most time in, and it’s a place that we can make a substantial positive environmental impact with small changes in the house. Find 14 easy ways to go green in the kitchen below.
- Use wax wraps instead of glad wrap
Replace plastic wrap (like glad wrap) with beeswax wraps. This is my favourite way to cover bowls of leftovers, blocks of cheese, and sandwiches. The warmth of your hands molds the cloth over the item and it seals within seconds. The beeswax makes the cloth slightly antibacterial, and it smells nice.
To reuse, wipe the beeswax using cool or lukewarm water and a gentle soap (hot water can melt the wax). They should last 6-12 months. Crumbly looking and well loved wraps can also be revived by following the steps in this video.
A great starting place is a pack containing all sizes (small, medium, and large). They can be found at markets, bulk food stores, and whole food stores. Or you can buy from Bee Wrappy which is an online Australian brand with free shipping around Australia! Or, if you’re crafty you can make your own, for example, see this tutorial.
2. Use Tupperware and mason jars
Another way to replace soft plastic packaging (like glad wrap and zip lock bags) is to use containers. I make sure any lunches and snacks that aren’t in beeswax wrap, are in containers or mason jars. Both our affiliates ONYA and BIOME sell some great reusables. Even snacks like nuts and dried fruit that I used to take in a zip lock bag.
3. Drink loose leaf tea and avoid coffee pods
Loose leaf tea and instant coffee are the green alternatives to tea bags and coffee pods. (See our episode on coffee pods here.) Some tea bags contain plastic which means they can’t go in the compost. On the other hand, loose leaf tea and coffee grounds can go straight in the compost bin. Buying these in bulk also reduces plackaging. Also, I find that loose leaf tea tastes better, and I make sure to buy strainers that are all metal to reduce our plastic waste on this planet.
4. Use compostable dish washing brushes, and reusable kitchen cloths
To cut down on plastic (e.g. scrubbing brushes and sponges that eventually go to landfill) I use a bamboo dish brush which can be dismantled and composted once it’s worn out. They’re very affordable, my $7 brush from Biome is still going strong after one year.
I also replaced sponges and disposable cloths with bamboo cloths (I found some at Coles), but I could have also used cut up old T-shirts. Throw these in the washing machine and reuse.
5. Dry your fruit and veg with a clean tea towel
Instead of using paper towels or wasting water, dry freshly washed fruit and veg with a clean tea towel. It’s still hygienic, and the towel can be reused. It was embarrassing how long it took me to figure this out!
6. Use environmentally friendly dishwashing liquid and multipurpose cleaners
Grey water safe, cruelty free, and plant based cleaning products are getting easier to find. One brand I use is Natures Organics, they produce ‘Earth’ products that you’ve probably seen at Coles and Woolworths. Brands like Ecostore and ENJO are also easy find in Australian supermarkets.
7. Keep cup
Did you know most takeaway coffee cups are not recyclable!
I keep one at work, but you could also keep one in the car for when you’re running between errands. Most cafes are happy to accept these now and even provide discounts for using them. If you are really pedantic about cleaning them, you can give them a quick rinse in the bathroom of any location you go to.
8. Get creative to use food that’s about to go off
Avoid food waste by using up food that is about to go off. Smoothies and juice are my favourite way to use up fruit and veg. Cooking and freezing meat is another way to avoid waste.
You could also place a small cardboard box labelled “Eat Me First” in the fridge, and pantry, to visually show you what needs to be used first. Google is always on standby to find a recipe when I need to use up some odd ingredients. And think about all that sweet money you’ll save for your trip to Hawaii!
9. Buy from bulk food stores and avoid buying plastic packaged foods
Foods available at these stores are stored in large bulk containers that require you to self-serve. They usually include: pasta, lentils, cereals, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. I’ve found that I can’t to do a comprehensive shop, but it is an excellent start to reducing plastic waste and you can gather the perfect quantity for your lifestyle which reduces waste.
Bring a set of Tupperware, mason jars, or reusable bags, to put food in. Make sure to weigh your containers when you arrive and mark the weight on the jar (a marker is usually provided). Find bulk food stores in Australia here. While they may not always be convenient to get to, look up ones on your way to work, gym, mums house or other frequently visited areas.
10. Consider reducing your meat intake
This helps reduce the impact of agriculture on land, and the production of greenhouse gasses. Meatless Mondays could be a good place to start, and in the future maybe just Meat Mondays.
11. Compost your food scraps
Food scraps (and other organic material) that enter landfill produce methane and carbon dioxide upon decomposition. If you don’t have a garden to fit a compost bin, consider a worm farm. These can fit under your sink or on your balcony. Another alternative is Bokashi buckets. These are airtight buckets (no smells!) that fit under the sink and produce a nutrient rich liquid for fertilising gardens.
Some councils are have also started to accept food waste (including meat and diary!) in their green waste bins (for example Glen Eira in Melbourne). Check with your council first.
If you’re in an apartment, check out more space efficient composting ideas here.
12. Cook more energy efficiently
I rarely fill the kettle up anymore, or wait for my oven to preheat. Forming new habits by being mindful of the following can help reduce your energy use:
- Thaw food in the fridge instead of defrosting in the microwave
- Fill the kettle with only as much water as you need
- Keep the lid on pots cooking over the stove top where possible
- Don’t preheat the oven unless absolutely necessary
- Fill the oven with food when you do use it (freeze what you don’t need for later)
- Use a toaster instead of the grill to toast bread
13. Recycle soft plastics
As well as cardboard and paper recycling, keep a a bin at home for soft plastics. These can be recycled at Coles and Woolworths RedCycle bins next time you pick up your groceries.
(Empty food packets can still smell a little, so consider choosing a bin with a lid on it.)
Examples of soft plastics that can be recycled are:
- Bread bags
- Rice and pasta bags
- Cereal packets
- Toilet paper plastic wrapping
- Frozen food and veggie bags
- Plastic bags
Find a comprehensive list here.
14. Grow your own food
The most organic, ethically sourced, and carbon neutral veggies (and herbs) are grown at home. Even if you are tight on space, a vegetable and herb garden can be tailored to a window sill, balcony, external wall, or a single square foot of yard – check out these ideas here.