How to minimise the plastic in your kitchen

Is a plastic-free kitchen possible?

All of us have some plastic in our kitchens, but there are many ways to heavily reduce any more coming in. If you already own something such as Tupperware, then I suggest that it's greener to keep reusing rather than to throw it away, but next time do consider the alternatives.  Some people say that storing edibles in plastics can actually leach chemicals into our food, so perhaps it may be better used elsewhere or just for very short-term (e.g. from the deli counter back home). A glass container such as the one below is perfect for keeping food in the fridge and as it's see-through, you'll be less likely to forget what's in there.  Glass like this is much easier to clean than its plastic counterpart as well.  Always make sure that your food has cooled down properly before you refrigerate it.

You can also reuse glass jars such as this one to store food in the fridge.

Is using second-hand plastic environmentally sound?

Following the principle above, it's therefore ok to buy plastic things second-hand. It's mainly about not encouraging the production of any more and supporting manufacturers who use other materials.

Buying new items and avoiding plastics

Currently plastic packaging is a hot topic, read all about food packaging here shop for your food plastic-free.  There are all sorts of other things that we all buy without perhaps even considering the alternatives and the kitchen is a great place to start as there are so many plastic things that you can do without here.

Avoiding plastic cutlery, knives and utensils 

Obviously, never buy single use plastic cutlery.  A plastic fork and/or spoon will turn up at some point and you can keep this for travelling if you wish.  The next time you buy cutlery or a sharp knife for your home, make sure it's made of metal, (or metal and wood), avoiding plastic handles.

Wooden spoons are excellent alternatives to plastic utensils.

I really like bamboo as it's long-lasting, resistant and hygienic.

Even chopsticks are often plastic when they are much better in wood.  Make your next pastry brush a wooden one too.

How about this lovely wooden cutlery tray?

Ensure that saucepan lids and handles are plastic free.

Needless to say, if saucepan or kettle handles are made of metal they can become very hot, so make sure you use an oven glove or similar.

We're all thinking avidly about trying to avoid plastic wrappings when we buy food, but we also buy tons of unnecessary plastic at other times.  Perhaps it's not so bad to buy a new grater with a plastic handle as it's not a throwaway item, but why support the plastic industry if it's not needed? Also, at the item's end, metal and wood are both fully recyclable.

Graters and sieves are durable in stainless steel.

Wooden chopping boards are great as are these lovely metal scissors.

Other kitchen utensils such as these don't need to be made of plastic.

Metal skewers are so good for baked potatoes of any size, for baking beetroot as well as for kebabs.

More alternatives to plastic in your kitchen

If they ever need to be replaced, your kitchen sink could be made of stainless steel, marble, or you could be the lucky owner of a ceramic Belfast or Butler sink. The draining board itself could be made of these materials or of hardwood.  Your washing-up rack could be made from stainless steel or wood. 

This stainless steel rack has rubber feet

Think about the material that your next kettle or toaster could contain.  Incidentally, although they may sometimes use more energy, whistle kettles last much longer than their modern counterparts.

Speaking of kettles, here's a blog all about Green drinks and talking of toasters, although containing a little plastic, something like this:

would be preferable to this one: (for aesthetic as well as plastic reasons!)

Although totally plastic free, I don't think I'd recommend one like this:

Many gadgets are made from plastic, so this is another reason to consider whether you really need them in the first place, especially as most don't get used anyway.

Other non-plastic items in your kitchen

  • Freezer bags - use (suitable) glass, Tupperware, or tins. You can also re-use other plastic (veg bags)
  • Food waste - if you have any, wrap it in newspaper rather than use a plastic bag.  For ideas on how to avoid food waste, read this blog  Food waste free.
  • Picnics - don't buy single-use plastic plates and cutlery.  If you must, use paper plates and compost them afterwards, or buy some second-hand durable plastic plates.  Better still, build up your muscles and carry china plates which are much more stylish.  Wrap them well in tea towels and washable napkins etc. so that you don't have any casualties.
  • Fruit bowls and banana trees.  By the way, do store your bananas away from other fruit as they will ripen them otherwise.  They seem to have completely scared off the fruit in this bowl...
  • Water your plants with a non-plastic watering can.
  • Choose wooden, woven, fabric, granite or glass placemats and coasters.

  • Vegetable brushes - Wash your veg with one of these non-plastic vegetable scrubbers.
  • Washing-up brushes - swap the plastic and find an alternative, or use a sponge instead.
  • Nail brushes can be purchased in wood - Having short nails is the best way to keep them clean, it also means that you will be able to master the art of the piano and/or the guitar properly too :)

Spend more to save in the long run

As always - follow the green golden rule of buying the best quality item you can afford and then if it's really well made and cared for, it shouldn't need replacing, or certainly not as often. 

Replacing plastic jars and bottles with glass

There are some glass bottle alternatives to plastic in this blog  Alternatives to plastic.

Alternatives to clingfilm

I nearly forgot about clingfilm as I haven't bought any for years and years.  I've clearly managed without it which means that you would be able to as well.  Please don't buy it!  I think I may have initially 'weaned' myself off by using foil instead (which can be used several times before being recycled).  There's also not that much wrong with putting a bowl in the fridge with a plate on top of it.  Sandwiches are happy 'naked' in sandwich boxes, or you can wrap them in the paper bags that your flour or porridge oats came in. 

A plastic-free kitchen 

By no means is our own kitchen plastic-free, but I have enjoyed seeing what we already have that is made from other materials and I shall certainly be following my own advice and making sure that anything else coming in, wherever humanly possible, is not made of darn plastic. 

What other items do you have in your kitchen that are superior to plastic?

If you're on a roll now, read here for thirty-seven ways to minimise plastics.


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