Feeling Kettles in John Lewis and other useful tips for a plastic free kitchen
Feeling kettles in John Lewis and other useful tips for a plastic free kitchen.
What a start to the year it has been. It is hard to keep up with the plastic debate these days and something important seems to be happening on a weekly basis. Here briefly, are my thoughts on what have been the most significant developments in the past two months.
Firstly, China sensibly decided to not take any more of our plastic waste to recycle.
This will cause a huge problem for the UK as a mountain of plastic will build up until they figure out what to do with it (and many fear they may landfill or burn it.) So for all of you who thought it was OK to use plastic as long as you washed it up and put it in your recycling, this is now not so OK.
As I have said all along we must try to not purchase any new plastic and hopefully this blog and the resource pages here will help you to do this.
Theresa May announced a rather lame ambition of phasing out “avoidable” plastic by 2042 (but even this showed that this government had noticed plastic was an issue).
Within hours Iceland announced it was phasing out its own plastic packaging in 5 years putting the government’s feeble time frame to shame. Hopefully other supermarkets will follow their lead.
The Queen, having been affected by watching Blue Planet, then got ahead and announced phasing out all single use plastic from Royal households by 2020.
Four days later The BBC followed suit, which was slightly ironic considering it made Blue Planet and you think it might have noticed, but better late than never.
More recently, Michael Gove announced a pledge to ban plastic straws and tried vainly to score some anti-EU points by implying that Britain could do this sort of thing more quickly once Brexit happens, only for Frans Timmermans to tweet that EU legislation is likely to ban them this Summer with a glorious hash tag of #EUDoesntSuck
Frans Timmermans is the EU commissioner leading the Circular Economy strategy document which is currently being consulted on in Brussels and includes proposals for vital new laws which will hopefully ban single use plastic (at least) and if so will have a global impact on plastic production. It is the one to watch and I’ll do my best to decipher what is going on and update you next time.
Meanwhile back in our kitchens…..
Thanks to all of you who sent in lists of plastic in their kitchens. I have started a resource list here which I shall continue to update as and when you tell me something new or I find a new source.
I have divided this list (as before for bathrooms) into once in a while purchases for equipment and kit and regular consumables. I have also included utility room items as many of you have these merged into your kitchen.
Kitchen Equipment and Kit
As a basic rule of thumb don’t throw away any usable plastic items currently in your kitchen. Wait until they have had it and then buy sensibly, avoiding all new plastic.
I suggest investing in well made all metal equipment for most kitchen kit. Avoid plastic handles or other added parts that once broken, render the item useless. There are oodles of choices out there for pots, pans and cutlery and impossible to list here, but again go for solid metal when you can.
Avoid “non stick” linings too as even with the gentlest of handling the toxic lining will eventually start to disintegrate into your food.
Go for metals such as iron, copper or stainless steel. It may cost more up front but should last you a lifetime. You would have to be a seriously bad or absent minded cook to destroy a set of stainless steel pots and pans. And you get to leave them to your children.
I know we can’t avoid plastic in electric items at the moment but how much electric kit do you really need in a kitchen? I have one blender and a toaster (that refuses to die) but once it has I shall use the grill. If you have to buy an electric item try to get an industrial version as they are often much better made than their plastic-heavy domestic equivalent. Try catering suppliers such as Nesbits.
Do be wary of buying any kit online, not only due to possible excess packaging, but in case they don’t list all the materials. It is great to search on line but better to go proper shopping if you can.
However we can all be fooled, which brings me onto feeling kettles. ..
Last year I needed a new kettle. Keen to avoid a plastic one I spent an hour or so in John Lewis fondling a selection of them on their display shelves - much to my family’s exasperation; eventually forking out for a Dualit kettle that seemed to be made mostly from metal.
However on writing up this blog I took a closer feel and realised that a lot of it is made of plastic disguised as metal. What a con. Be vigilant.
I have concluded that the best bet is a good old fashioned copper kettle on the hob. There are lots of good designs out there and I have listed some on my resource page.
However I did learn my lesson from this fail as I nearly bought some glass spray bottles online from John Lewis again (as a non-plastic container for kitchen cleaning spray). But I thought I’d give them a quick feel first in the shop and sure enough the metallic nozzle bit is made of plastic, so now I am searching for those all-brass ones my granny used for spraying house plants.
Also, literally, look into metal bins as many have unnecessary hard plastic liners.
Tupperware and its’ like should be a thing of the past. There are new stainless food containers coming onto the market in all sorts of designs. Or get into finding decorated tins in charity shops and vintage fairs. Look what I’ve collected recently (title photo). It can become addictive.
Like bathroom cleaners it is hard to avoid plastic containers for liquid cleaners or detergents. My best solution right now is to buy in bulk (15 litres) from eco suppliers and decant what you need into any old bottle you have lying around. Like this.
If you have time to make your own cleaners then dripak has a great website with good tips and recipes. They supply most of the ingredients in cardboard boxes via many local iron mongers but I have yet to find a supplier of large quantities of white vinegar in a non-plastic bottle. Maybe you can help me?
Beware of so called biodegradable plastic bin liners and bags as many are made from plastic but with a chemical additive that just speeds up their disintegration into microplastic. Instead look out for compostable bin liners as these are made from a vegetable based starch, which is OK.
There was a flurry of debate on scrubbers on the fb page and in the end coconut shells and husks seem to have won over an appreciative audience.
In the 30 years or so of running my own kitchen I can’t say I have ever used paper kitchen towels. I use cloths that I wash regularly.
Also I am slightly bemused by the need for Clingfilm and as Clare said what is wrong with a bowl with a plate on top in the fridge?
I do understand that if you make regular pack lunches Clingfilm might be useful (but a good lidded container should do) but now there are beeswax wraps.
Surfers against Sewerage have started to sell them and lovely Rachel sent in a recipe for us all to try, so I will.
Lastly the plastic elephant in this kitchen room is FOOD and its PACKAGING and will be the subject of my next topic to analyse.
This will take some time and researching and please help me if you can via the Escape from Plastic fb page.