Many of us are spending a lot more time at home than usual, and eating in more than we eat out. In fact, grocery sales are up 10% so we are all spending more time shopping for food. I thought you may be interested in finding 10 easy free swaps you can do at home to be more sustainable, reduce your plastic and waste and save money!
What difference can I make?
Well, quite a lot to be honest. How you choose to shop influences how big businesses market to you. Iceland is currently trialling how they package their items. Moving to plastic free could save 350 tonnes of waste every year, and the new forms of packaging include bread, potatoes, apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries and mushrooms. For anyone who is already trying to shop plastic free, you know some of these can be really hard to get. Asda is trialling new refill stations in one of their Leeds supermarkets, with a view to roll more out in next year.
Huge Supermarkets make moves like this to attract the new Customers, like you, who want it to be easy and affordable when being more sustainable. We can make huge changes with changing how we shop and voting with our wallets. As I have mentioned in previously blog posts, it is possible to shop plastic free / zero waste in most UK supermarkets now if you do a bit of pre planning and happy to make some swaps. Today, I am sharing some quick, easy sustainable shops you can make. And if you scroll down to the bottom of the blog post, you can see the betternotstop kitchen tour I recorded last week!
1. Swap shopping blind to shopping planned
If everyone in the UK stopped wasting food at home for just one day, it would have the same impact on greenhouse gasses as planting half a million trees. So a really easy change to make is to make sure that you are not throwing away food at the end of the week because its gone off. Having leftovers for lunch and freezing food that you have made too much of are easy things to do. And if you are not sure you can freeze something, check with google! You can freeze bread, cheese, milk, hummus (I always make too much!). Planning out your weeks meals and making sure you don’t over shop will save money too!
2. Swap ready meals for homemade
Lots of food that comes in plastic packaging are microwave, pre made ready meals. Pastas, curries and pizzas can all be made from scratch (or using easy jar sauces) to reduce the plastic packaging and also save money. Pizza dough is super simple to make at home (or with a bread maker). Curries and pastas can be pulled together in less then 30 minutes with tons of simple recipes available on website like BBC Good Food.
If you eat a lot of ready meals, just make small changes when you have time. Perhaps challenge yourself to make one swap a week in this category and build it up over a fee months.
3. Swap to local seasonal food.
There are a variety of benefits to eating seasonally, including saving money as well as it being harvested at the peak of it’s season – when it is going to taste the best. But locally is the way it should go. You’ll be supporting local businesses in your area, as well as reducing the food miles of the food you eat. This year has seen a huge rise in entrepreneurial business people starting local fruit and veg delivery around the UK. Check out your local facebook groups or google o see if there are any new ones near you. Often the fact they use fruit and veg that’s not ‘pretty’ enough for the supermarket means they get it much cheaper too – and are able to pass on the cost saving to you!
4. Swap plastic for jars and tins.
My cupboards, as you can see in the YouTube video below, are not full of beautiful mason jars. Instead I have a mix of old jars that used to hold pickles, spreads, tofu and more that I re-use for when I visit my local zero waste store. Since I started making sustainable kitchen swaps I have looked as often as possible to change the packaging I buy rather then the products. That has lead me to discover that tomato puree can be bought in smaller tin cans (which can be recycled much easier than the tubes I used to buy) as well as things like Tofu available in glass jars.
When you go to reach your usual grocery items on the shelf have a look to see if there is a similar item in recyclable packaging. Rather then get a packet of sauce, perhaps swap to a jar or get tinned vegetables rather then fresh (More ideas can be found in my post on zero waste grocery shopping)
5. Swap packaged produce for loose
I have re-usable produce bags I use at the shop rather then get any fruit and veg in plastic. Now my fridge is full of loose items such as potatoes, broccoli, carrots and peppers. The other great thing about getting loose fruit and vegetables is that you will be less likely to buy large packets, meaning you get too many and waste them. Only buying what you need will make sure that you reduce your food waste as well as your packaging. Much more sustainable!
6. Swap chilled for frozen
A kitchen swap I started very early was reducing the items I bought from the chilled section of the supermarket with frozen. There are a few reasons why this works out more sustainable. Firstly, chilled items regularly come in plastic packaging, especially meat, pizzas and ready meals which usually go straight in the bin and don’t get recycled. Many of their frozen alternatives are wrapped in cardboard which are easy to recycle or a thicker plastic that can be recycled alongside plastic bags at the supermarket. Because frozen items have a longer shelf life (both at the supermarket and at home) they are usually better value for money. If you haven’t had a proper look at the frozen section recently – make time this week! You’d be surprised by the variety of items you can get and the price difference from the chilled section.
I had a quick look at Tesco website today to give you three quick examples:
- 8 Richmond meat free Sausages – £2.20 chilled in plastic / £2.00 frozen in cardboard
- Quorn Nuggets – £3.00 chilled in plastic / £1.59 frozen in recycled plastic
- 4 Tesco Finest Beefburgers – £3.00 chilled in plastic / £3.00 frozen in cardboard
7. Swap meat meals for vegetarian
As you may have guessed from my last point – one of the biggest culprits for plastic waste is meat – you just need to look at the supermarket chilled section to see that. There are many reasons for why reducing our meat consumption is better for the planet and more sustainable. However I know cutting meat out completely is not possible for everyone, so I advocate trying a few meat free meals a week. Even changing your lunch to a meat free lunch monday – friday would make a huge difference! A few reasons why this is good as a sustainable kitchen swap:
- Less meat, less plastic packaging
- Reductions in meat eating is required if the world is to stave off climate change, with beef consumption in western countries needing to drop by 90%
- It will be cheaper – as you save money replacing meat with beans, pulses or veggie alternatives.
8. Swap packaged bread for a bread maker
It’s no secret that I love my bread maker. All I need to do is through the ingredients in, set the timer and I can wake up to freshly baked bread in the morning. Making it at home is much cheaper too, each loaf works out around 10p (I use own brand plain flour rather than strong bread flour) and I get to refuse the single use plastic bags bakery items come in without giving up my favourite comfort treat.
I got mine second hand, so it’s worth asking around on some local facebook selling groups to see if you can get a bargain, or set up an alert on Ebay. Mine is over 15 years old and similar second hand models are going for around £30 online. My maths works out if you regularly spend 80p on a loaf of bread, you will start saving money after around forty loaves.
9. Swap coffee capsules for compostable alternatives
With 22% of people in the UK owning a coffee machine, coffee pods are big environmental problem. In fact, According to analysts, in the last year more than £112m-worth of coffee pods were sold in the UK, up by a third from 2014. Sales are expected to treble by 2020, at which point coffee capsule sales could overtake those of tea bag. Nespresso is the worst culprit, so be sure to use compostable coffee pods. Ideally what you want to be doing is reducing the amount of waste coming out of your kicthen overall, recycling should be a ‘last resort’.
I highly recommend Percol. They were first ground coffee to be Fairtrade certified. They pioneered the use of organic and single-origin beans. Plus all their packaging is compostable (even the ground coffee bags). It helps that their cofee is delicious and I have found the decaf version has become my favourite drink of choice at the moment.
10. Swap quietness with confidence.
It’s great that you are thinking about sustainable kitchen swaps that you can do to make the world a better place. You’ll find it is so easy to make these changes and will be surprised at how quickly you can reduce your kitchen waste. One of the most helpful things you can do next is let your friends and family know what you are doing. If you have been able to make a swap that is saving you money – you should be sharing it with your friends!
And think about when Christmas and birthday’s coming up – what gifts are you giving? A great idea is to share some of your favourite new ethical swaps for them to discover too.
- If you have a coffee lover, gift them some Percol.
- Home made bread or cakes are always a welcome gift.
- Use old jars you have saved to make some home made jams or pickles.
- Hand write a recipe out you have learnt and share the exact zero waste ingredients they will need to make their own.
I hope this blog post has helped you come up with some ideas of how you can make some sustainable kitchen swaps in your own home. Check out my YouTube video on what I have in my own kitchen, and feel free to share any hints, tips and ideas in the comments below!