Sunday, 14 February 2016

5 tips to reduce your plastic use (even further)


You've stopped using plastic bags. You take a stainless water bottle with you when you go out. Maybe you've invested in a reusable coffee cup and you even use fabric bags to do your food shopping. Below are 5 tips to go even further in decreasing your plastic use and your waste in general. 


1. Use a spray bottle for washing-up liquid
Right. You won't save tonnes of plastic or money by doing this. But I mention it anyway because it's such an easy step to take that I would feel guilty not sharing it with you. 
Pour 1/4 or 1/5 of the content of a washing-up liquid bottle in a spray bottle (it depends on how concentrated your washing up liquid is, I guess). Fill in with water. Shake. Spray the diluted liquid onto your dirty dishes. 
The chances are that you already have an empty spray bottle in your house. If you do need to buy one, it will cost you about £1. 
Go the extra mile: make your own cleaning products using white vinegar/bicarbonate of soda/essential oils. A few drops of tea tree oil + some water in a spray bottle = a very effective disinfectant (tried and tested!). Don't be put off by the price of a small bottle of tea tree oil. It will last you a long time. 


2. Replace your shower gel with a bar of soap
The old fashioned bar soap is making a come-back. You can buy a soap holder which doubles up as a soap box (such as this one from Muji). So you can take your soap with you when you travel. It will make you wonder why you have ever used shower gel. I know. 

I currently use bars of soap from The Soap Co. 

Go the extra mile: buy shampoo bars from brands such as Lush or Folie verte



3. Stop using cling film
I still have cling film in my cupboard but I very very rarely use it these days. When I have some leftovers, I put them in a bowl/dish and put a plate on them. 
Go the extra mile: stop using kitchen towels and aluminium foil. I can't remember the last time I bought kitchen towels (maybe two years ago...). As for foil, I have some at home but I can count on one hand the number of times I use it over a period of one year.  



4. Buy loose vegetables and fruit. And cook!
You can buy unpackaged vegetables and fruit from farmers' markets, grocery shops and vegetable box schemes. I have a subscription to a vegetable box scheme called Field to Fork Organics (I co-founded it and was involved in running it until October 2015). Every two weeks, I buy a fruit box from Riverford

It's impossible to beat fresh, organic, unpackaged vegetables!
Their colours and taste are incredible. 

Getting a weekly bag of seasonal vegs means that you'll have to cook a fair amount, including vegetables that you may not be familiar with (celeriac, swede, Jerusalem artichokes etc.). I can imagine that this doesn't work for everyone but, if you enjoy cooking and you want to support British farmers, I can only advise you to join a bag scheme. I'll share recipes on the blog to help you with this challenge. Check out Ben's VegTarga recipe


I haven't always been a keen cook but the more you do it, the better it gets.
I love it now. 

Go the extra mile: reduce your meat consumption. Producing meat has a very high environmental impact. 



5. Replace industrial yogurts/desserts/biscuits with homemade versions
First, it's a good way to reduce the amount of sweet things you eat. Second, it's a very effective way to make a dent in the amount of plastic waste you consume. Third, the less processed food you eat, the better for your health. 

Using smaller cake forms shortens the baking time. 

I've bought a yogurt maker last year. I really enjoy having homemade yogurts. Saying this, you don't even need a yogurt maker to make your own yogurts. It's the same for bread. You can make your own bread without a bread maker. I really like this spelt loaf recipe from Doves. I use it on a regular basis - and tweak it by replacing some of the spelt flour with rye flour, for example. 

I sometimes use a proving basket but if it's not necessary.

Go the extra mile: make your own jam, marmalade, chutney etc. Just remember to keep glass jars whenever you finish a jar of jam or else so you don't have to buy any to store your homemade products. You will be amazed by the number of jars you will accumulate in the space of a few months. 

What are you doing to reduce your waste? What do you find challenging? Leave a comment under this post.