Positive steps forward: cutting back on plastic in the kitchen

Hello everyone, I’m Melissa Hemsley and I’m a chef, author and the founder of The Sustainability Sessions.

Melissa Hemsley 3

Like you, I’m committed to learning and proactively doing as much as possible to reduce my impact and do my part to support a more sustainable world for everyone. My latest cookbook Eat Green is about eating with the seasons, supporting farmers and growers and cutting back on food waste.

Getting more sustainable is a journey and the kitchen is a fantastic place to start making new positive habits. Shopping completely plastic-free isn’t always possible of course, but every little change really does help. What else helps? Writing to your local supermarket, favourite shops and go even more direct, write to your favourite brand.

Let’s collectively put positive pressure on them and ask questions, ask for better and vote with our feet and our spending power. And never underestimate the impact of passing on your new habits to friends and family, making good habits can be infectious. Perhaps when we’re ‘on the other side’, you and your friends could take part in a local clean up, I recently took part in some plastic patrol paddleboarding down the East London canals!

Refill shops and refillables

From oats, quinoa and rice to spices, wine and olive oil - try refilling your cupboard staples and favourite ingredients at bulk buy shops, also known as zero waste shop. To help you find your nearest, this amazing lady has done the mammoth task: zerowastehome.com - so you can just put in your postcode and out pop your local bulk buy shops. Take your own containers (reused bottles, jars and bags) and fill up with what you need. At the supermarket, head to the “loose” aisle instead of the plastic-wrapped aisle and if you’re buying online from a supermarket, keep your eye out for the non plastic-wrapped products.

Storing food and leftovers

What to do with that half a lemon or onion or delicious leftovers? Instead of cling film, foil or plastic baggies, how about using reused jars or containers or popping a plate over a bowl of leftovers?

On the go

For picnics or lunch on the go, it’s worth investing in a reusable fork or spoon or even a ‘spork’. Your reused jars again come in handy for taking lunch into the office or to the park. I find the squatter shaped jars with wider mouths most useful for eating out of. They’re great for chopped salads, pasta salads and mixed bean salads. Or invest in a glass container lunchbox which I find so very useful and has been a great investment.

Under the kitchen sink

It’s fantastic to see lots of household cleaning brands have refill options. Refillable hand washes, washing up liquid etc. Also, good old fashioned soap is back! From dish washing soap to hand soap and even shampoo and conditioning soap bars too.

Grow your own herbs

Whether it’s mint for your mocktails, cocktails, after dinner tea or perhaps to make a glass of water more exciting, or basil for your pesto or tomato salad or coriander for your curry or parsley for your cheese frittata, herbs can really make your cooking extra special and flavourful. Packs of fresh herbs are one of those ingredients that often come plastic wrapped so how about growing your own, pick 1 or 2 to start (from your local garden centre or grocers), pop them on your kitchen windowsill and enjoy.

For more from Melissa you can follow her on Instagram here.

If you’ve been inspired by Melissa to cut back on single-use plastic in the kitchen, why not join the Plastic Challenge?