Living Plastic Free in the Kitchen
Plastic, a material that changed everything. Cheap, versatile, lightweight, and resistant. It brings with it benefits that have allowed us to live with ease and convenience. However, the very thing that made it revolutionary, also made it incredibly destructive. It is now predestined to exist with us and is a major driving factor in climate change. It has tainted everything on our planet and we are unable to escape it, from the bottom of the ocean to the peaks of mountains, its ubiquitous existence never ceases to persist.
It is estimated that around 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enters our ocean a year, killing 1 million seabirds, and 100,000 marine animals. It is one of the most harmful materials to our environment and wildlife, existing for decades without decomposing. We have become dependent on it, and a life without it is hard to comprehend. However, with climate change, now a climate crisis, we all need to make a change to our lifestyle which will help preserve the world and not destroy it, moving away from our linear economy to a circular one.
Only 9% of plastic produced gets recycled, with the vast majority of it ending up in landfills. This is quite a shocking statistic and allows the consumer to gauge the reality of the plastic paradox we live in. We need to break away from our reliance on plastic and find alternatives that push for a more sustainable existence.
So here are some ways you can reduce your plastic consumption in the kitchen;
Take your own bag
This one might come naturally to a lot of us, however, it is always good to remind ourselves of why we take our own bags shopping, or if we don’t take them, why we should.
Firstly, a lot of grocery bags are plastic, and therefore end up in the sea harming our precious marine ecosystem. It is estimated that 300 million plastic bags end up in the Atlantic Ocean alone each year. Wildlife is then prone to becoming tangled in them or eating them, having detrimental effects on their health and impacting the very foundations necessary for a stable ocean system. Additionally to this, they are ugly. When we are swimming in the tropical blue, immersing ourselves in a heavenly environment, it is easy to slip into a state of euphoria, that is until a plastic bag wraps itself around your leg and pulls you back into reality. Therefore, to avoid this, make it an essential step to never go food shopping (or any shopping) without your own bag. Swap out the single-use bags, for reusable produce bags and tote bags, bringing sustainability to your food shop.
Image taken from: Unsplash, Miska Sage, 2021
Embrace naked fruit and vegetables
It seems like the ease of convenience with pre-packaged produce has become more important than the environmental cost of that packaging. Try to avoid pre-wrapped produce. Most fruit and vegetables come in their own wrapping anyway (their skin), and so doesn’t need to be wrapped further. It may be easier, but as soon as it is cut it needs to be sealed so that it does not get contaminated with pathogens or foodborne illnesses, and guess what it is sealed in? Plastic. Therefore, wherever you can, buy loose, seasonal produce from supermarkets. It may take longer to make your dinner, but it’ll taste better knowing that you are taking cooking consciously, reducing your plastic consumption.
Image taken from: Unsplash, Ayda Oz, 2021
Ditch the coffee pods
Everyone loves a morning coffee, and I mean everyone, with 2 billion cups of coffee consumed globally every day. In America alone, 44% of adults admit to drinking 2 to 3 cups a day, and it currently stands as one of the world’s most popular drinks. The problem though is not the coffee itself though, it arises as soon as coffee pods are involved. Individually, a coffee pod may seem harmless, but collectively, they pose an environmental disaster. It can take up to 500 years for a coffee pod to break down, so that morning quick coffee fix you needed could be around for over 5x your lifetime, and with an estimated 1 billion pods going to landfill each year, it is hard to comprehend the sheer scale of the problem.
However, this problem can be addressed. If you own a coffee pod machine, then seek out biodegradable coffee pods which you can dispose of in your compost bin, taking only a few weeks to break down, and not hundreds of years.
Image taken from: Unsplash, Crema Joe, 2021
We have become accustomed to the ease of using cling film or single-use freezer bags. However, as they are made of single-use plastic, they have detrimental effects on the environment. There are ways that you can store food avoiding the use of these. Invest in beeswax, and vegan wax wraps. You can hunt out different patterns and find ones that suit your aesthetics. They are 100% natural so you can use them to wrap up your food, and then when they are looking worn, you can decompose them leaving no trace to the environment.
You can also invest in silicone bowl covers to seal up your food in air-tight containers, allowing you to preserve your food, and then after you have eaten it, just wash the bowl cover and use it again. Additionally, you can also look into buying Tupperware and air-tight jars which reduce the need for single-use plastic. Clingfilm and single-use freezer bags are a thing of the past, and therefore we should move towards more endurable methods for storing our food.
Image taken from: Unsplash, Charles Deluvio, 2021
The problem with plastic is escalating, and even though we know this, we are constantly surrounded by it, making it incredibly difficult to move away from. We are not all to blame, with large corporations such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo holding the torch for plastic waste contribution. They need to accept responsibility for their actions during this crucial point in time, however, that does not mean we can’t make a difference, and that we shouldn’t start today. Even by making small changes, you could help save an animal’s life or prevent that plastic bag from wrapping around your leg when you are immersed in the clear blue ocean waters. It might seem like just one bag or just one coffee pod, but collectively, it is 300 million plastic bags, and a billion coffee pods a year. Together we can make an impact in the fight against climate change, and making small changes to your kitchen habits is a great way to start.