The Latch has partnered with Suncorp Bank to deliver sustainability content that helps helps our readers drive positive action in their every day lives.
The kitchen is the heart of the home but it’s also the source of a lot of household waste. From plastic packaging to potato peels, there are still ways to reuse, reduce and reach more sustainable ways of stocking our kitchens.
One simple way you can start to stock your kitchen more sustainably is to look at the types of waste you’re producing on a regular basis and establish a system for each. Ahead, we’ll explain how organising the different kinds of trash accumulated in the kitchen — like food waste, plastic, and paper waste — and also create structure around storage.
If you don’t have a composting system, keeping vegetable skins and stems in the freezer to make a big pot of soup is one way to cut back on food scraps ending up in the bin. All you need are the remains of these vegetables, hot water, and bay leaves and bring them to a boil. You can keep this vegetable stock in the freezer for months, ready to use for any of your soups.
We’re all guilty of rediscovering forgotten produce looking a bit worse for wear in the deep corners of our fridge. OzHarvest reports that 70% of food thrown out from households in Australia is edible but simply forgotten. To prevent these instances, you could whip up meal plans before hitting the supermarket or consider getting labels like ‘use me first’ or ‘eat me soon’ that can act as tangible, visible reminders of food that needs to be eaten soon.
If there is a small bruise on a piece of produce, consider cutting out that portion rather than throwing it out and using it in versatile dishes like soups, and pickles, or as a pizza topping, so it doesn’t go to waste.
Australians throw away around 1.9 million tonnes of packaging each year — in the form of packaging for vegetables, fruits, appliances, clothes, and everyday items. Almost everything that comes ordered from an online marketplace is at least wrapped once in bubble wrap and sometimes also a box before it reaches us.
Instead of looking to get fresh, new, bin-liners, consider using existing packaging to line your trash bin. This could range from anything as big and sturdy as a rice bag to a polyester bag used to deliver your new clothes. Giving these packaging bags one more life helps to extend their utility and prevents single-use plastic from ending up in our landfills.
Depending on the number of people in your household and the amount of trash generated, you might have enough existing bags to last you for some months.
How many times have you reached for disposable paper towels to clean a surface or tidy up a spill? We all have. They’re convenient and do the job well, but they also end up in our bins. Instead of relying on paper towels and napkins, try switching to reusable cloths. A simple way to kick off this habit in the kitchen and laundry is to cut up old cotton t-shirts into little squares and use them in place of paper towels.
Extend the same logic to zip lock bags, cling wraps and one-time plastic containers. Instead of one-time plastic containers, you could opt to use glass or metal containers. In place of plastic cling wrap, you could use saucer plates to cover your bowls or pot lids to cover large trays. If you’re looking for a more permanent option, consider investing in bee’s wax wraps or eco food wraps.
Hosting friends and family always result in the use of single-use plastic because we all want to save on washing and cleaning up afterwards. That’s completely normal, we hear you. In fact, we are you.
However, you could get your friends and family involved in environmental action by encouraging the use of metal or bamboo straws, utensils, plates and bowls at parties. Starting this conversation would also be a great icebreaker and a way to get more people making positive changes, together.
If you find that some people are resistant to this change, you could opt for biodegradable utensils and crockery that are made from a mix of edible and organic materials (available from most supermarkets, these days).
At the heart of sustainability is the attempt to try and be better for ourselves and the planet. Try starting this effort in the kitchen, the place for gathering and feeding and then notice how this effort crosses to the rest of your life.