5 ways to a more eco-friendly kitchen

From reducing food waste to going plastic-free, being green can be as good for your pocket as it is for the planet.

Updated

jug with sunflowers on the kitchen countertop

We all want to do our bit for the planet, and there are so many changes we can make in our homes to do just that. What’s more, many eco-swaps are free or can even save you money. Now that’s what we call a win-win situation.

Fed up of food waste?

Globally, food waste is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the whole of the UK. So one of the biggest impacts you can make in your kitchen is reducing food waste.

That doesn’t mean you have to lick the plate (although if you’re eating chocolate cake, we really don’t blame you). What it does mean is:

  • Planning what you’re going to eat so you only buy the food you need. As an extra bonus, this means fewer emergency trips to the shops when you realise the only fresh food you have left is a rather sorry looking artichoke.
  • Considering how meals work together. If you need half a pack of parmesan for one dish, how can you make sure you use up the rest before it goes mouldy? (Hint: aubergine parmigiana is delish.)
  • Making the most of leftovers. Lots of dishes can be reheated or eaten cold. Made too much spaghetti? Mix the extra pasta with some pesto and you’ve got tomorrow’s lunch sorted. Too many potatoes? How about potato salad or a Spanish omelette?
  • Not forgetting your freezer. If you know you’re not going to eat something before it goes off, check whether you can freeze it. Why not freeze half of your loaf on the day you buy it, and just take slices out to toast when you need them?

Want to create your own compost?

Veggie peelings are far too valuable to just throw away. Add them to your grass clippings and garden waste to make your own compost. Keep an eye out on Facebook Marketplace and other selling sites for a second-hand compost bin, or make an open-top box out of second-hand wooden pallets.

The key to good compost is getting a 50/50 mix of green materials (grass, leaves, flowers, veggies etc) and brown materials (eggs boxes, paper bags, loo rolls, woody stems etc). Shred branches, or they’ll take aeons to degrade.

Try to turn the compost with a garden fork to speed up the process. It’s best to do this in early spring or early autumn, so you don’t disturb any nesting or hibernating animals.

Going for a plastic-free kitchen?

Many of us have been feeling increasingly inspired to reduce our reliance on plastics. From switching to glass milk bottles to shopping at refillable stores, there are so many ways you can reduce your plastic waste. In some cases, you don’t even need to abandon your favourite cleaning products, as some, like Cif ecorefill Power & Shine Kitchen Cleaner Spray, are now available as super concentrated refills that you pour into an empty Cif bottle, reducing plastic waste by 75%. It’s also worth looking out for replacements for disposable products, such as beeswax wraps (an eco-friendly alternative to cling-film). Disposable kitchen sponges are often made from plastic, so look out for biodegradable or washable versions. Loofahs, wooden-handled coir scrubbing brushes and bamboo cloths are all good options. Or why not try crocheting your own ‘scrubbie’ or making one by weaving together strips cut from old T-shirts? You can also use squares cut from stained clothing as a replacement for disposable paper towels. For more top tips, check out our guide to zero-waste living.

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Keen to reduce and reuse?

Packaging can often be reused. Family-sized sweet tins are handy for storage. Tin cans can be used as a sustainable alternative to plastic plant pots for succulents and cacti. And glass jars can be used for pickling veg or making home-made sloe gin. Find out how to sterilise glass jars here.

Want to save on your water bills?

Many of us have water meters now, so reducing your water use can save you some serious cash. Dig out your washing machine manual to check which cycles use the least water (it’s often the cycles that take the longest).

A dishwasher tends to use less water than washing up by hand, as long as you wait until it’s full before turning it on. And only boiling the water you need in your kettle, rather than filling it, saves water and energy.

Looking for more ways to go green at home? Check out these five simple ways to protect the environment.

Originally published