1. Ditch single-use items
Products that are only intended to be used once before discarding have a huge impact on how much waste we produce, and many of these items start in the kitchen. Single-use plates, bowls, cups and utensils, styrofoam and plastic takeout containers, plastic water bottles, shopping bags and straws are the obvious ones that come to mind, but it goes even further- plastic wrap, ziplock bags, plastic produce bags and baking paper that many so mindlessly use daily.
Thankfully, there are many cooking accessories out there now that are designed to make sustainable and ethical cooking easier so we can ditch the single-use items. Reusable food wraps, straws, baking tin liners, cupcake moulds, baking mats, keep cups, bread bags, reusable food storage units and produce bags and so much more are popping up everywhere as environmentally conscious companies are creating incredible solutions for us. Stock your kitchen with these products once and use them time and time again, saving you money in the long run and creating sustainable practices.
2. Grow your own
A great step towards sustainability is growing your own produce, ranging from a few small herb pots on your kitchen bench to crates of vegetables changing seasonally taking up your whole garden - whatever the size and quantity it all makes a difference! Growing your own has many benefits, starting with being in complete control as to what pesticides and fertilizers you use, therefore what impact you are having to the soil, and what is running off into our waterways (and also what chemicals you are ingesting personally!).
By taking out the middleman you are also reducing the energy used to put food onto your plate, cutting down fossil fuels, reducing plastic punnets and bags from store-bought produce and overall creating a more sustainable eating practice. Due to home gardeners using more traditional and sustainable methods, on average home growers use less water to grow the same amount of food as commercial growers, homegrown food on average has a higher nutritional profile and home soil contains a third more organic carbon (meaning we’re helping fight drought and global warming!). The easiest things to start growing are zucchinis, tomatoes, herbs, kale, lettuce and rocket so they are a good place to start!
Two great books to get you started are ‘The Little Veggie Patch Co: How to Grow Food in Small Spaces By: Fabian Capomolla, Mat Pember and ‘The Urban Farmer: How to Create a Productive Garden in Any Space’ by Justin Calverley.
3. Eat seasonally
Gorge on in-season produce! You will know what is in season at the market as there will be a plethora of options and they will be cheap (win-win) but I also recommend having a print-out on your fridge of what's in season at each time of year - this helps when meal planning and writing a shopping list. Produce in-season has travelled less distance to reach you meaning it’s environmental impact is smaller, drastically reducing the carbon footprint. You’ve also supported local farmers, fewer pesticides and chemicals need to be used, the produce is more nutritious and it even tastes better!
A great example of Mother Nature doing her thing - oranges are in season in winter, as they are full of vitamin C when you need it the most! So trust and support Mother Nature to do her thing and enjoy all the goodness she offers. Alyce has written an incredible cookbook called ‘Fresh Favourites’ where she has broken up each recipe into a seaon- how amazing is that?! Its Spring?
4. Buy in bulk and then cook your own
One of my favourite ways to support sustainability in the kitchen is to encourage home cooking. When making your own, from muesli bars, dips, sauces, sweet treats and etc you drastically reduce the packaging and waste that you create. Homemade cooking goes hand-in-hand with buying in bulk. Don’t buy small quantities of your pantry staples, go to your local Source Bulk Wholefoods and buy kilos of rice - they even let you bring your Tupperware containers from home to really cut out the useless packaging.
Buying in bulk also makes home cooking easier as it means you always have your staples on hand ready to go - no one likes an urgent last-minute supermarket dash. Our favourite company to buy in bulk from is The Wholefood Collective, we could not recommend this small locally run business any higher for stocking your kitchen ethically and sustainably.
5. Waste less
This concept seems simple, yet we seem to as a society struggle with this a lot. Disgustingly huge amounts of food gets wasted in our kitchens, when we eat out, and when we food shop. We can reduce this drastically though by changing a few small habits when cooking. Eat your leftovers (I personally think leftovers are the best breakfast in the world anyway) use all of the produce when cooking (don’t be afraid of that broccoli stem), salvage what you can even if a piece of fruit looks like it’s on its last legs, question best before dates and lastly don’t be afraid of the different.
Produce is meant to come in all shapes and sizes - cucumbers grow curly, carrots get two legs - embrace it all as there is no perfect fit contrary to what many of us have been bought up to believe! If getting desperate, blend up those dodgy-looking fruit and veggies with your favourite mylk and you have yourself a super healthy green smoothie!