In 2019, National Geographic published some mind-blowing facts about our plastic usage. Did you know that half of the plastic that has ever been manufactured throughout history has been made in the last 15 years? This is because our plastic production has increased exponentially, meaning while 2.3 million tons of plastic were produced in 1950, by 2015, 448 million tons were being produced.
Facts like these have shook the nation to its core. Many of us never knew just how bad our current waste problem was, until recently. But, with this shock, has come a dramatic shift in attitudes, and the overwhelming drive to do something about it.
It has been a source of constant delight for the Smarter team to witness how much our country’s perspective on waste has changed in the last 5 years. Now, ‘single-use plastics’ is set to be one of the most villainous figures of the decade, and we’re all set to change our ways to make the world a better place.
With the FridgeCam, our aim has always been to help families improve their organisational skills, in a way which not only saves them money, but helps them to cut down on their food waste too. We’ve found that a greater level of kitchen awareness takes you a big step of the way towards a reduction in forgetful neglection of expiry dates, and a drop in the amount of food that you end up having to ditch in the bin.
While you’re stuck in lockdown with your family, it’s only normal to find that you’ll be consuming a lot more food at home and so you’ll probably be a lot more aware of the waste that you and your family produce (especially if there was a bit of a delay in bin collection!). It’s amazing how quickly the black bin piles up, and it’s a rather mind-blowing (and quite sickening) thing to consider all of the countless times that bin of yours has been filled and emptied into skips. We want to join the call of the nation, with a united effort to clean up our act.
There are so many things, big and small, that we can do to make our lives a lot greener (with a lot less plastic in them too). With this end goal in mind, the Smarter team put our heads together to come up with a list of ways in which we can all improve our practices and cut down on our waste at home.
First and foremost, we’ve come up with a list of fantastic helpers that are now available to keep you sticking to your plastic-free ethos. Before you go ahead and buy something that advocates a ‘use once and bin’ attitude, take the time to first check whether there’s a better alternative to this product, before you buy the normal plastic version. Some of the worst culprits for single-use plastics in a typical family home include things like plastic straws, party cups, water bottles and cling film - all of which have affordable, easy alternatives.
We want to help you find some brilliant eco alternatives to everyday products, that you can buy to cut down on your household waste and single-use plastics usage in your home.
Here are our round-up of fantastic eco alternatives and key waste-saving tools:
- Tupperware - store your food in an airtight container to help it keep for longer, then use it for meals on the go too.
- Beeswax wrap - an amazing, innovative and now readily available alternative to cling film.
- Bags for life - these have been a key eco staple for a while now. Invest in a sturdy bag for life and a good string bag for when you’re buying fruit and veggies.
- Eco wipes - just like the originals, only these decompose properly.
- Eco bin liners - do the job just as well, but they won’t linger in landfills forevermore.
- Cotton napkins - why bin a cluster of single-use napkins after every meal? Buy these and just pop them in the washing machine.
- Soup containers, thermos and coffee cups - everything that you need to stick to your environmental pledge when you’re eating meals out.
- Teabags - make sure the ones you buy aren’t sealed with plastic. Buy your tea from a company that is more considerate of the environment, or better yet, opt for loose leaf teas.
- Choose wine bottles with natural cork stoppers - (over screw tops that go in the bin) little things like this really do add up.
Next up, we wanted to provide a list of 9 eco-conscious practices that you can adopt straight away. So, here are our top techniques to reduce your usage of plastic packaging and family waste:
1. Bulk buy your dried goods
A great way to keep the plastic packaging you buy to a minimum is by buying dried goods in bulk. This can include items like rice and pasta, which you can then store in airtight jars so that they keep for ages. By doing this, it means that you’re only using one set of packaging, rather than lots and lots of plastic bags for little portions of pasta.
2. Visit zero-waste stores where possible
Thanks to the UK’s fab zero-waste movement, these have been sprouting up all over the place and most cities now have a good range of zero-waste stores. As well as their environmental benefits, taking your food shop to a zero-waste store is actually a really fun experience. They have a fun, friendly atmosphere and the quality of their food is always tip top.
3. Make ethical choices as a consumer
We often forget the power that we have as consumers. We can force big companies to change their practices by actively flexing our consumer muscles and not buying their products if we see practices that we don’t like. Little things like choosing an alternative product that has cardboard packaging, foods that don’t use palm oil or foods that use free-range produce makes more of a difference to brand practices than you might think!
4. ,Find refills for bottled products
You can buy refills for things like cleaning products, shampoos and even cooking oils - just bring your bottle along to a refill station (which you can find in pharmacies for health and beauty products, or zero-waste shops) and top it up. Not only does this save you a considerable amount of money, but it’s a great way to avoid buying a new plastic container every time.
5. ,Think about your takeaway options
Whenever you’re eating out on the go - especially for your meals at work - a bit of planning makes a world of difference. If you buy reusable alternatives (things like soup containers, Tupperware, reusable cutlery, thermos and coffee cups), you can plan your work meals in advance, so you don’t resort to buying a supermarket sandwich and bottled drink (it’ll save you lots of money too!).
If you want to improve your practices, it’s going to take time, for sure. But it’s all about organisation. Little things - like remembering to bring reusable bags for all of your food shops and string bags when you’re buying fruit and veggies - all come with time. Keeping organised with your meal prep is key too, and this means less ready meals! Microwave meals are a dreadful culprit when it comes to plastic packaging, so planning your weekly meals and cooking more things in bulk (then freezing them) will make big differences over time.
7. ,Make sure you’re not lazy!
We know how it is, there’s always going to be those moments where you can’t be bothered to carefully wash out a yoghurt pot. But stick with it, it’ll soon become second nature to you and you won’t even question it. Also, carefully check that things can be fully recycled, or whether separate parts can be recycled, and then take the time to separate them.
8. Educate the little ones
The last thing that you want is to feel like you’re doing this all on your own. So we’d recommend educating your children about why it’s important for us all to use less plastic and speaking to them about how you’re cutting down on plastic at home, too. You’ll probably find that they’ll be a lot of help to you!
9. Fridge Cam
We can help you out too! Installing a FridgeCam in your fridge, cupboards or pantry provides you with a much clearer sense of what you have in stock, to help keep you organised with meal prep and stop you having to sacrifice all your good intentions by buying a plastic microwave meal or a box of plastic pre-chopped food at work. You can keep a closer eye on what you have in stock and what you need to buy, to help keep you organised for the week ahead.
According to a study by WRAP UK, in the UK we throw away 6.6 million tonnes of food waste every single year and, of this discarded food, a staggering 70% of it was perfectly fine to eat. The information that the FridgeCam gives you will help you work to reduce the food waste that is produced in your own household, and help you make a difference to the country’s current food waste problem.
The brilliant benefits that this brings to your kitchen includes giving you a much clearer sense of your food’s expiry dates (so dramatically reducing your food waste), the opportunity to save your family an awful lot of money and a level of much better organisation overall. If you’re ready to take the step towards making your kitchen plastic-free, check out our online store and grab yourself a FridgeCam. A more organised shopper makes for a much more eco-conscious shopper, and the FridgeCam gives you the tool that you need to make your supermarket trips much more economical, simply because you know exactly what you need and what you’ve already got at home.