The kitchen is a great place to start if you want to make a positive environmental impact. Think about it, every week we bring food and all it’s packaging into our kitchen. Sadly much of what we take in goes straight back out in the bin. By using the waste hierarchy and following the steps and recycling tips in this blog we can easily (and cheaply) reduce our waste. This helps us to make a positive environmental contribution and save some money on bin charges.
Step 1 – Avoid unnecessary produce and products
The first step to reducing our carbon footprint is to avoid bringing any unessential produce or packing into the kitchen. Make a shopping list to avoid buying excess food, therefore avoiding fresh food spoilage. More supermarkets are offering green recycling bins at the checkout. This gives us the opportunity to remove packaging before leaving the shop. This has two benefits, the first is that we are not paying to dispose of packaging that we did not want in the first place. The second benefit is that it sends a clear message back to the retailer about our feelings towards over packaging. Hopefully, this will help to drive legislative change.
Step 2 – Reduce what’s coming into the kitchen
Buying loose fruit and vegetables is a great way to reduce the amount of packaging going in and out of the house. Buying only what we are going to eat and avoiding bumper packs helps to reduce food waste too. Another way to reduce the amount of packaging we take into our kitchen is to buy store cupboard items in bulk. Increasing the pack size and avoiding individual multipacks can considerably reduce packaging waste.
Step 3 – Where possible reuse household products
There are a lot of items around our kitchen that could be reused rather than recycled. For example, by using reusable food wraps we can avoid single-use cling film and aluminium foil. Old jam jars are perfect for storing grains and seeds. Old cotton t-shirts can be cut up and used as wipes then washed and reused (perfect if you have small children). The possibilities are endless. All that’s required is that we think before we put something into the recycling or black bin.
Step 4 – Prioritise recycling and composting
A great way to tidy up our waste streams and avoid contaminating our recycle bin is to avoid hybrid materials in packaging. Only buy produce in packaging that we know is suitable for either recycling or composting. There is a lot of greenwashing out there so make sure that what you buy is clearly labelled with instructions on how it is to be recycled. PET, HDPE and LDPE are the most commonly recycled plastics.
Then there is food waste (my favourite topic). For the most part, all food waste is compostable. If you want to put packaging into the compost bin then make sure it has a certificate of compostability. This is especially true for bioplastics. It is very difficult to distinguish compostable plastic from regular plastic. There are lots of ‘bioplastics’ on the market that are not what they seem and can add to the growing concerns around microplastics. so make sure they also carry a certification mark. My recommendation would be to avoid plastics or bioplastics altogether. Paper-based products are much more reliable for composting and therefore recommended for recycling food waste.
Step 5 – What you can’t reuse or recycle dispose of responsibly
If we have done our best to avoid, reduce, recycle and compost what is coming in and out of our kitchen then there should be very little waste going to landfill. As landfills are closing more of our waste is going to incineration. The benefit of incineration is that it extracts the last bit of energy from our waste. But as you can see from the waste hierarchy it is far from ideal.
So there you have it, some recycling tips and our five steps to reducing your carbon footprint by managing what’s coming in and out of our kitchen.
We’d love to hear your recycling tips and ideas for reducing your carbon footprint, let us know in the comments below!