The bottom line is, sustainability can be complicated, confusing and overwhelming. We all want to do our bit for climate change, but it’s difficult - right? You really don’t need to be an eco warrior to do your part, it’s almost impossible to be 100% waste free. Zero waste chef Anne Marie Bonneau has said:
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
There are small swaps that we can make in all aspects of our lives to do our bit, from our beauty routine, to the clothes we buy. Here are a few small swaps that you can make around your eating and cooking habits (and a bit about what effect your current ones might be having!)
Reducing our food waste is the number one solution to the climate crisis. Over one third of all food produced globally goes to waste. That’s a huge waste of water and energy that’s used to grow and transport the food that ends up in our bins. If we cut down on our food waste, there will be less food that needs to be produced and in turn, less water and energy will be used and we’ll have a much healthier climate.
What can I do?
Planning your meals will help you save on food waste fast - as well as your shopping bill. Ever buy a bag of veg and only end up using half? Or maybe you’ve bought something from the shop on the way home from work but forgot you already had it at home? Keeping organised with a meal plan will be your best bet on avoiding this.
If you struggle to find the time to meal plan, why not make one night a week your left-overs night? A simple way to combat food waste.
Surplus Fruit & Veg
3 million tonnes of fruit and veg are wasted before they leave the farm, just because they don’t look right, but they taste perfectly fine! We can help by buying this surplus produce. Companies like Oddbox are great for this, they’ll collect the surplus food from farms and deliver it right to your doorstep.
There are brands in your supermarket that save surplus produce too. Rubies in the Rubble are a condiments company that does this. Make a simple swap from your usual condiments to their selection of sauces and relishes (they even have a banana ketchup if you’re feeling adventurous...
Preserve your food
It’s difficult to cut down on food waste when things go off so quickly, but there are lots of ways to preserve your food for longer. Your freezer will be your best friend for this. Try freezing yogurt in ice cube trays before it’s best before date, then you can throw them in a smoothie when you fancy one. Do the same with red wine so you can add a cube to sauces. And this is my favourite one - chop up any fresh herbs that are about to go in the bin, add a bit of chopped garlic and cover them with olive oil in an ice cube tray, then you can add them to any recipe to add some flavour. Think soups, pasta, stews, anything.
Fresh berries seem to be something I’m forever wasting. I’ll buy them one day to add to my porridge and the next day they’ve gone off. I’ve started washing mine in one part vinegar, three parts water before putting them in the fridge. It kills off any bacteria on your berries making them last so much longer.
We’re obsessed with @thefullfreezer on Instagram for tips on preservation.
Food waste is a huge problem in restaurants too. But there are some restaurants trying to combat this. Silo is a great one. They’re a zero waste restaurant based in Hackney Wick, London and they have challenged themselves to be a restaurant that doesn’t have a bin. Their menu avoids any food waste and any waste made by the customers, is turned into compost in their own aerobic digester. All of their furniture is up-cycled too and their menu is even projected on the wall so that there’s no paper waste.
There seems to be an app for everything these days and that doesn’t stop at food waste. One of our favourites is Too Good To Go where you can save food from going in the bin at your favourite restaurants (for a fraction of the price!) Try it out next time you forget to bring lunch to work.
If you’ve got food you’re going to throw away, whether that’s because you’re cleaning out your cupboards or you’ve cooked too many portions for dinner, share it with your neighbours! OLIO is great for this. You can post what you have spare and your locals can request to come and pick it up. Easy peasy.
Single use plastic is one of the biggest culprits in our climate crisis and a lot of it comes from the food industry. It takes 450 years to completely break down one item of plastic and the UK alone goes through around 15 million items of plastic a day. A lot of it ends up in the sea, around 10 million tonnes every year. Not only is it awful for the environment, but our health too. Each person ingests around 5 grams of plastic a week, that’s the equivalent of one credit card a week. You can ingest microplastics that are found in seafood, from food that contains traces from its packaging and just from breathing the air.
What can I do?
Single use drinks bottles are awful for the environment. We all have our own reusable water bottles by now but what about when you fancy a juice? The Juice Round delivers juice in glass bottles to your door. They then collect the bottles when you order from them again, just like the milkman. They’re delicious.
Speaking about the milkman, why not go back to having your milk delivered to you in glass bottles? It’s convenient and saves on plastic waste - win win. We love Milk & More.
What about alcoholic drinks? Most alcoholic drinks come in glass, whether that's wine, beer or spirits. Although glass is better than plastic, single use glass bottles are still bad for the environment as they take so much energy to produce and then just get thrown away. Draught Drop is a great circular company for beer.
The average person gets 34 takeaways a year. That’s a lot of takeaway containers and plastic cutlery. You could opt for a takeaway that is trying to combat this. DabbaDrop delivers South-East Asian plant based food in reusable tins. They’ll collect these tins next time you order and they’ll be cleaned to be used for the next customer.
Many of us use reusable bags by now for our weekly shop, but don’t just stop at carrier bags. Buy reusable bags for loose fruit and veg instead of using the bags the supermarket provides.
The meat industry is responsible for 18% of global climate change. The sheer amount of water used to farm these animals is so damaging, it takes the equivalent of 50 bathtubs of water to produce just one steak. Then you’ve got the methane, cows produce 150 billion gallons per day and it’s so much more destructive than CO2.
What can I do?
It’s not realistic to ask all meat eaters to go completely plant based, but making a conscious effort to eat less meat is the way to go. Some people have decided to cut red meat out completely and stick to white meat. Others have committed to going meat free one day a week, whilst others have opted for eating plant based lunches. There are so many ways to cut back on your meat consumption, you may even discover some tasty alternatives along the way.
At the end of the day, a change of lifestyle is difficult, but doing whatever you can is more of a help than sitting back and doing nothing at all.