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Plastic in the kitchen – how to reduce plastic waste as you eat and drink

We knew plastic waste from food & groceries was going to be a hot topic during our Plastic Free July 2020 campaign. 100% of people that we spoke to said this is the area they most struggle with. It can seem very daunting and near impossible. Mainly because of the overwhelming plastic wrapped options supermarkets and take away food joints give us.

Luckily, there are a number of ways to reduce single use plastic waste without giving up your favourite foods or breaking the bank. It’s all about making smarter decisions and being well prepared.

To help us navigate through this topic, we teamed up with Elephant Box who are masters at eating without plastic.

Selection of Elephant Box stainless steel products

Elephant Box are a fellow UK based company producing an array of items to help you eat and drink without plastic. Their ethos is to make items that are useful, beautiful, durable and reliable. Their range of lunchboxes, snacks, mugs and bags not only look great. But also have more uses than you can imagine.

Smarter food shopping

Even though plastic free options exist, people tend to buy plastic wrapped food out of habit. I heard on the news this week that only 10% of Heinz Tomato Ketchup sales are for their glass bottles. Madness!

Nevertheless, supermarkets are starting to feel the pressure to reduce the amount of single-use plastic they have on their shelves. Tesco are in trails with a company called Loop to return and refill certain items. This is fantastic as supermarkets wrap over 900,000 tonnes of plastic packaging around their food every year.

Tips to avoid plastic packaging as you eat and drink

1: Find farmer’s markets and refill shops local to you

Not only will you find products in more ethically packaging (if not no packaging). You will also get a much better quality of product. These really are the best places to make sure your food has the smallest possible plastic footprint. You could take it one step further and grow all your own food of course! Go armed with your plastic-free shopping kit ready to refill and reuse.

If you don’t anything like this local to you, try the next option.

2: Fruit & veg box delivery 

At least two people have recommended Riverford to me recently. So you know what I’ll be ordering this weekend! Not only do they use 82% less plastic than supermarkets. They even do a zero packaging option. Getting your food delivered from a grocer makes it far easier to guarantee the freshest produce without plastic packaging. You’ll also get great ideas about what’s in season to mix up your mealtimes.

3: Clever supermarket shopping

Supermarkets still have a place. They have given us broad variety, convenience and often competitive prices. All you have to do is be savvy when you shop at them.  

Greenpeace published a league table ranking UK supermarkets based on their current plastic footprint and what they were doing to tackle it. It was really handy helping me to decide where to spend my money. When you venture out, opt for items in glass, cardboard, tins or even loose fruit and veg wherever possible.

4: Meal-Prep like a pro

Grabbing food and drinks on the go is sometimes unavoidable. But most of the time it’s something we do when we aren’t prepared (or temptation gets the better of us). Ready meals, takeaways, coffee shops etc may solve your hunger pang quickly. Yet try to think about the hundreds of years the plastic packaging will plague the earth and oceans for.

Batch cooking can save you from making bad decisions and also save you a small fortune. Pre-cook meals and pop them into some prep and store tins inside your fridge or freezer. You can even have some bits ready to go in the fridge that is great for throwing a quick meal together. Such as roast chicken, sweet potato wedges, sweetcorn, red kidney beans, tomato sauce. Google meal prep ideas for more inspiration.

Cleaning a sink draining board

On the topic of food and groceries, here are our must have Clean Living products for the kitchen;

  • Kitchen Cleaner & Degreaser – grease, sticky spills and post-cooking mess is no match for this product.
  • Bin Odour Eliminator – cooking with fresh produces results in offcuts that can pong in your bin. Spritz this onto waste from your chopping board or plate to avoid bad smells seeping out of the bin. It’s also fab for food waste and compost bins.
  • Biological Multi-purpose Cleaner – a lot of things pass over your worktops. Keep them deeply cleaned and protected from the regrowth of harmful bacteria with our clever biological formulations.

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