I go on about it a lot, but sustainability is so important for all of right now. There are so many ways we can develop eco-friendly habits, and one way to do this is to learn to be more sustainable in the kitchen.
It seems like a minefield however it’s not as hard as you think – here are seven methods I use to be more sustainable in the kitchen that you can easily pick up as well.
Reduce your food waste
Our food waste caddy is a central character in our kitchen. I was shocked to learn that many countries still don’t have food waste recycling as an option – here in the UK it gets recycled into electricity, however more people could definitely use it.
If you do have food waste collections in your country then this one is easy… Use your caddy! Make sure to put any food waste in there, from banana peels and vegetable scraps to leftover meals.
If you don’t have collections then find ways to recycle or reduce your food waste in different ways instead. We don’t actually peel vegetables anymore (the peel is actually super nutritious!) and we turn any inedible parts into stock. Anything else can make compost!
You’d be amazed just how much of your food waste can still be used.
Cook from scratch
Generally it seems that the more processed a meal is, the more ingredients it contains. Not all great ingredients, either. Whilst I don’t believe that all non-natural sounding ingredients are bad, some of them definitely are, and many may also be unsustainable. Take palm oil, for instance – it’s not always grown sustainably and it’s in so many processed foods.
I tackle this by cooking as much as possible from scratch, which in turn is a great way to be more sustainable in the kitchen. Peanut butter pretty much always contains palm oil, so I make my own using just one ingredient – peanuts.
That’s fewer potentially dodgy ingredients but also fewer air miles and processing methods (both of which can be bad for the environment). It also tastes so much nicer and is healthier, too – a win for everyone!
Shop locally and in season
I’ve just mentioned air miles, and it’s really something we should be considerate about with food. Exotic ingredients are wonderful, but the amount of CO2 they generate is not positive for the planet. Out of season food also causes this issue.
Learn when your food is in season and but it at those times – we save strawberries for the summer because we know they’ve grown in our own country, rather than coming all the way from Spain.
Also try and shop locally where you can as this usually means less environmental impact, too – supermarkets are great for convenience but it doesn’t long to realise just how much of their fresh produce has actually come from thousands of miles away. Focusing on local, in-season food has a real positive impact.
Eat less meat and dairy
Despite the industry doing everything they can to convince us otherwise, meat and dairy is the single biggest contributing factor to climate change. The main reason is the production of soy, which leads to rapid deforestation – the amount of soy livestock consumes is ridiculously high, and all that forest that’s being destroyed to grow it just isn’t going to come back (weirdly, it actually benefits the environment to choose soy products over meat because that meats less soy consumption overall – took me a while to get my head around that!).
I don’t think this means that everyone should drop all animal products and immediately become vegan – whilst that would be great, it’s just not practical.
Reducing intake is far more feasible, and it can do wonders. Try swapping one or two meat-based meals for plant-based each week.
Purchase eco-friendly kitchenware
Have you ever noticed just how much of your kitchenware is plastic? We’ve got so much, and it doesn’t make me feel great! To tackle this we’ve been trying to buy only sustainable items.
There are actually loads of options available as people are asking for it – stainless steel straws, storage containers made of wheat fiber, and bowls produced from recycled coconut shells, to name a few.
Even things like reusable sandwich wraps are brilliant – simple, but the amount of waste they reduce is really noticeable.
Reduce your plastic usage
Going food shopping in the supermarket always makes me so disheartened because everything is layered in plastic. It’s so unnecessary – supermarkets are starting to deal with the issue, but we’ve still got a long way to go.
There are still ways that you can help reduce plastic waste, though. For starters, taking your own bags to the supermarket is a really easy method – think how much plastic you can save! You can even take your own containers for meat and bread into some stores.
Also try and go to shops that use less plastic if possible, and opt for loose veg over pre-packaged if it’s an option. By making these choices outside of your home you’ll find yourself much more sustainable in the kitchen.
Buy what you need, not what you want
This is the last point because it’s really important and I want it to stick with you. Every day I see examples of people throwing food away because they simple bought too much. Which is rubbish! (Excuse the pun.) There’s no excuse to be doing that whatsoever, as it’s so easy to avoid.
Before going shopping, always plan your meals for the week. This helps reduce buying things simply because you think you might use them (something I used to be guilty of). Avoid 2 for 1s and other offers if you’re only interested in them due to the price, and really think carefully about buying extra fresh products in particular.
You don’t need to really limit your shopping, but you can be more savvy with it and save throwing so much away at the end of the week.
What do you to be more sustainable in the kitchen? Share in the comments and make sure to like and pin if you enjoyed this article! If you’re looking for other ways to be sustainable then check out the best DIY home cleaners.
Hannah is the blogger behind Pages, Places, & Plates, a blog dedicated to reading, eating, and travelling. Her passion is sharing her experiences with others and helping them to make the right decision for their next book, food, or travel venture. She lives in Essex, England, on the Sunshine Coast with her partner and her Kuomba, her African giant mantis.