If you’re trying to reduce plastic in the home, here are some simple swaps for reducing plastic food waste.
The UK population throws away an estimated 295 BILLION pieces of plastic every year, according to the Everyday Plastic report. Of this, the study found that two-thirds of throwaway plastic was used to package, wrap and consume food.
This is not surpising as it is incredibly difficult to find plastic-free produce in conventional UK supermarkets, which currently generate 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging every year. Greenpeace have launched a petition to tell UK supermarkets to ditch throwaway plastic packaging and lead the way in dramatically reducing the amount of single-use plastic produced.
(SIGN THE GREENPEACE PETITION)
Until then, here are some eco-friendly alternatives, tips and tricks to get around buying plastic-wrapped food, as well as brands using innovative materials to change the game:
Tea & Coffee
Did you know that most teabags contain plastic? This means that unfortuantely most teabags aren’t biodegradable or compostable. If you are unable to buy loose-leaf tea locally, British Fairtrade tea brand Clipper has recenty announced the launch of their new plastic-free tea bags, made from natural plant-based materials like abaca (a species of banana plant fibre).
If you’re more of a coffee affiocionado, try drinking your pure Colombian Arabica made with biodegradable Nespresso-compatible pods from TrueStart Coffee. TrueStart uses recycled and biodegradable packaging for its range of cold brew and home brew coffee products, using FSC certified card sleeves and Omnidegradable® coffee bags which biodegrade anywhere that there are active microbes, including oceans, lakes, soil, home composts, etc.
If you’re looking to buy your dry staples such as pasta, lentils, rice and cereal plastic-free, your best bet it heading to a bulk buying store for the best quality and variety in product. Make sure to take enough containers and produce bags with you, to fill with all the goods. Read Melissa Hemsley’s guid on where to buy bulk in London.
If you’re in the mood for a refreshment, but don’t want to buy single-use plastic bottles – choose glass. Most Kombucha brands sell their product in glass bottles and Deliciously Ella’s Deli also has a refill station. To stay hydrated on the go, your best option is to refill your reusable bottle (the refill app is a great way to find stations). If you forgot your refillable bottle at home, Just Water has water bottles to grab on the go that are made from paper and sugarcane that are a better alternative to single-use plastic ones.
Fruit & Veg
Buying plastic-free fruit and veggies can sometimes be more challenging than you’d think if you head to your regular supermarket. The best way by far to buy food plastic-free is to head to your local farmer’s market on the weekend to get fresh, seasonal and organic produce. Being as organised as possible is key here so you only buy ingredients you will actually need for your meals for the week.
If you are missing any fresh fruit & veg and need to go to a supermarket, try scouting out the larger branches, as they have more plastic-free options in their fresh aisles.
Condiments and Sauces
A few condiments such as garlic pastes can often be purchased at your local farmer’s maket and vendors sometimes also give you a small discount when bringing your own container, so bringing a glass jar or bottle is perfect for this. Spices can also be bought package-free from bulk-buying shops if you want to make your own spice mixes for curries or pumpkin pie.
Try choosing glass when buying oil and vinegar from your local supermaket or health shop, the latter is perfect when you are looking for an organic product or something a little special. Nut butters and healthy chocolate spreads can also be found in glass jars from health shops or you could try making your own (they are surprisingly simple and all you really need is a strong food processor).
Read more about how to start buying in bulk and how to minimise food waste, as well as our favourite Bulk-Buying stores in the UK to get your started.