Beyond food packaging, there are a few more areas in the kitchen where it’s possible to cut back on waste.
We don’t have a dishwasher so I’m afraid I can’t recommend anything high-tech, but most refill shops can now provide concentrated dish soap. Just stock up in the refillable container of your choice; we find re-using the squeezable Fairy bottle to do the trick!
We have given up sponges in favour of the Kilo Scrubby; they clean well and go through the wash without any issue (I just toss them in one of the mesh bags we use for fruit and veg so they don’t get caught on clothes). I was given a coconut scrubber for Christmas and I have found it excellent for heavy-duty outside cleaning tasks and I’m sure it would do a great job on dishes as well.
Multipurpose Kitchen Cleaning
I have given Swedish dishcloths a try and I am in agreement with all of the rave reviews. These cotton and cellulose miracle workers are absorbent and perfect for wiping up kitchen spills, so we no longer need to purchase paper towels. You can stick them in the microwave to zap potential bacterial growth before it begins or toss in them in the washer every so often (just don’t tumble dry!). When they come to the end of their life, they can be added to a home composter
Note to family and friends: Please pretend to be surprised when you get these as Christmas gifts this year (they come in fun designs, I swear!).
I will be the first to admit these are pricey, but I have found them so much easier and more pleasant to use than traditional cling film. Just use the heat from your hands to mould them around whatever you’re trying to cover. I’m aware that Cousin Norman’s has them, and you can also DIY. They’re not so good for meat, but …
Just popping things into existing Tupperware containers (or investing in a set of glass ones) is an easy way to store food. A friend told me that she has started to use large jars to freeze things in, and this seems to be a good way to reuse packaging while extending the life of your food. Jars are a particular good way to store things because you can reuse an existing item, they look better than plastic storage (in my opinion), and they are so versatile: craft items, toiletries, tools (e.g. nuts, bolts, screws), etc. can all be popped inside.
Throughout this month, I have been sharing what my two-person household has done to reduce waste in general and cutback on plastic in the bathroom, in our wardrobe, and while on the go. I recognise that we are privileged to be able to do this, having both the money to spend on things that may cost more than their plastic-wrapped brethren and the time to shop at multiple places to get the products. For those counting every penny or just wanting to do one weekly shop before a small child has a meltdown, I know it can be difficult to make these changes.
This is one of the reasons I am developing the Reduce Your Wasteline blog. The idea of going zero waste or completely plastic free can be incredibly daunting (and, quite frankly, logistically challenging and costly). But, by making lots of little changes, we can all move in the right direction. I will be bringing in my experience as a researcher to look at how these swaps can be made easier so that we can all change our behaviour for the better. The page is still taking shape, so in the meantime, consider joining the Facebook group to start sharing your own tips and tricks.