How to have a Plastic-Free Kitchen
Our world is drowning in plastic. While plastic has many valuable uses, we are addicted to single-use or disposable plastic. Half of all plastic is designed to be used once and then thrown away. We produce about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population!
Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled and about 12% has been incinerated, while the rest has accumulated in landfill, oceans and the natural environment. There are currently five ocean garbage patches, the biggest of which is The Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is an estimated 1.6 million square kilometers!
The world is waking up to the problem of plastic and governments are starting to act. But the truth is that governments and individuals need to do more.
The kitchen is one of the major contributors to plastic waste in our homes. Every sponge, piece of clingfilm, bin liner or bottle of detergent we have ever thrown away still exists.. Maybe in landfill, maybe in the ocean, but it is still out there somewhere and will be for at least the next 500 years. Here are five things that we have done to reduce plastic in our kitchens:
Plastic Free Washing Up
In addition to bottles of washing up liquid, regular sponges are also made of plastic which shed microplastics into the waterways and don’t break down in landfill. So, a great way to reduce plastic, is to switch washing up liquid for dishwashing soap bars, powders in biodegradable packaging or washing up liquid in glass bottles. Try compostable plant-based sponges and cloths (better than the plastic ones, we promise), coconut scourers (they last forever), and wooden dish and pot brushes.
Plastic Free Kitchen Cleaning
Cleaning product bottles are rarely recycled because they are marked as contaminated. And there are so many great plastic-free alternatives on the market. We particularly love the OceanSaver cleaning range which is great value and so easy to use. You simply fill up a bottle with water (you can reuse empty cleaning bottles you already have at home), pop in an OceanSaver, give it a shake and you’re ready to go. Neat and Iron & Velvet are also fantastic. Use with an old tea towel, reusable kitchen roll or unpaper towels which can be washed and used again.
Plastic Free Laundry
Another big culprit in kitchen plastic waste is laundry products. Not only that, they also contribute to waterway contamination which is harmful to marine life and can end back up in our drinking water. We promise you that the natural laundry detergents we use are just as good as commercial ones and they are plastic-free too. An extra bonus is that we find we don’t even need to use an additional fabric softener.
Fabric softeners work by adding a layer of silicone which is not great for your clothes. Many commercial softeners also contain petroleum or palm oil derived ingredients and an ingredient called Dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride which is derived from animal fat. Lots of fragrance is added to mask the smell of this which as you can imagine is not very nice. So, if you haven’t tried a natural, plastic-free detergent yet, we can’t recommend them enough.
Plastic Free Food Storage
One of the first things we got rid of when we started a plastic-free kitchen was clingfilm. More than 1.2 billion metres of single-use clingfilm is used by households across Britain every year! We use wax wraps to cover cut fruit and veg, school lunches and leftovers. Wax wraps come in a variety of sizes and can be used over and over again. Looked after correctly they can last you for years and there are refresher wax blocks you can use to keep them going even longer. These are one of our most useful swaps. Other food storage solutions we recommend and use in our own kitchens are silicone bags and lids and glass pantry jars to store food from your zero waste shop.
Plastic Free Bin Liners
If you haven’t started composting yet, give it a go. There is so much you can chuck in your compost, it’s a fantastic way to reduce your overall kitchen waste. And you get free fertiliser for your garden too. We have a beginner’s guide to composting here. For the stuff you do need to throw away, use a biodegradable bin liner which will break down naturally in landfill.
A plastic-free kitchen is a great place to start
These are genuinely the things that have been most useful to us in reducing our kitchen plastic waste. We hope they are useful to you too. We know that plastic food packaging is a problem too and the Vera-Bees will be covering this in the near future.
You can see all of the lovely products in our plastic-free kitchen range here.