Eco Tips

Curtailing food waste

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Reducing food waste

4..5 million tonnes of food is wasted by UK households each year – that equates to 12.5 million tonnes CO2. Avoiding waste is about only buying what is actually going to be eaten within the shelf life of the food stuff.

  • Plan meals
    • plan a daily menu or a weekly menu. This way you will know what food/ ingredients you need.
    • think about portion sizes: eg portion of protein = 30g nuts, 2 eggs, 90g meat, or 150g cooked beans or pulses.
    • check which ingredients you already have and which additional items you need to buy.
  • Make a shopping list and use it: buying extra may be storing up future waste.
  • Think about using alternative or substitute ingredients.
    • if a recipe asks for peas and you haven’t any, can you use chopped courgette/ apple/ dried peas?
    • if celeriac is on your shopping list but not in the shop, can you buy carrots/ parsnips/ sweet potato instead?
  • Plan your meal according to what you already have.
    • Rather than buying a complete set of ingredients, create a recipe that uses what you already have.
    • Use up ingredients that are in your fridge that would otherwise go out of date. Try the internet for ‘fridge clearing’ recipes.
    • If you have left leftovers from a previous meal, incorporate them into today’s meal
  • Make good use of a glut. If you have an excess amount of a food or if there is a really good offer at your local shop, have a go at food preserving . Excess fruit can be bottled, made into jam, or made into chutney. Excess vegetables can be pickled, fermented or made into chutney.
  • Store all food stuffs carefully so as to keep them fresh and maintain their life. Some foods – like potatoes – are best kept in breathable (paper/ cotton) bag that excludes light. Some are best kept in bags – eg carrots and root vegetables – to stop them drying out. Some are best kept in the fridge such as cucumbers and lettuces. Some are best kept out of the fridge such as apples and tomatoes.
  • If you shop locally and buy locally produced foods, less food is likely to be wasted in the distribution chain. Try a fruit and veg box scheme that comes direct from the farm.
  • Be ready to buy small or oddly shaped fruit and vegetables that would otherwise be discarded. Some fruit and veg box schemes such as OddBox, specialise in sourcing products that are either small, misshapen or surplus to demand.
  • Buy and eat food that is in season.
  • Have a few recipes that use only store cupboard ingredients so that you can always make a meal with what’s in the house. Eg spaghetti with a tinned tomato and haricot bean sauce, garnished with black olives.

Eco Tips

Active Travel

 Active travel is getting from A to B using our own person power – be that

pedalling a cycle, wheeling a chair, pushing a scooter or simply putting one foot in front of the other. It gets us from home to school/the shops/ the gym/ the railway station … and back. It keeps us fit and it keeps our environment fit – free from air pollution, congestion and carbon emissions. 

  • Dress for the weather:
    • waterproof shoes/ boots;
    • waterproof over trousers and jacket
    • sunhat/ beanie/ helmet
    • gloves, scarf
    • comfortable shoes
    • something reflective for after dusk
  • Maintain your wheels
    • keep tyres fully pumped
    • get a puncture repair kit
    • clean and oil chain and gears regularly
    • check and adjust/ replace brake blocks
    • boom a regular 4-6 monthly service
    • invest in a extra strong bike lock
    • use bike lights from and back
  • Carrying things – eg shopping
    • Fit your cycle with panniers or a basket
    • find a basket that is comfy to lift and hold
    • try a pull along basket/ trolley
    • use a back pack to spread the load more evenly
  • Route planning
    • Find local cycle routes where you feel safe with other traffic.
    • Cycle with a friend if initially you lack confidence
    • Choose a route that you will enjoy walking/cycling.
    • Find out where there are short cuts for when you in a hurry
    • Work out how long your active journey will take and leave in good time.
  • Make active travel a habit
  • Fuel
    There is never such a thing as too much cake, only not enough active travel! 

Eco Tips

Recycling Plastics

The world’s resources are finite. The more we personally use, the less there is for others. We should reuse, repair and recycle what we do use. 
Plastic is conventionally made from oil but can be made from recycled plastic which has  both a smaller carbon footprint and allows virgin oil to be left in the ground together with its potential carbon emissions. 

Recycling plastics is a good thing.

Whilst all plastic can potentially be recycled, with some forms of plastic the process is deemed too expensive.  Plastics that can easily and cheaply be recycled are typically the ones that can go in your kerb side recycling bin  or in recycling points at super markets etc. Items made of several different plastics can be difficult to recycle but more and more business are making this possible. Costa Coffee collects coffee cups for recycling (typically made of paper with a thin plastic lining). Superdrug collects blister packs from pills etc for recycling. 

32% of all plastic in the UK was recycled in 2020: including 50% of plastic packaging and 77% of plastic drinks bottles. Plastic that is not recycled ends up in landfill sites or incinerators, or as pollution in rivers and the sea. There is scope for more and better recycling. Equally there is scope for reducing the amount of plastic that is in circulation. Do we need all that plastic packing? Do bananas need to come in plastic bags? Do we need drink coffee from throw away cups? Why aren’t sandwiches wrapped in paper? 

Good Plastic Recycling Practice

  1. Before throwing plastic in the land waste bin, check whether it could be recycled. If necessary contact the manufacturer. If enough people keeping asking, they may even swop to a more readily recycled plastic.
  2. Check the type of plastic you are recycling. Is it a recyclable plastic that can go in your kerb side  bin or do you need to take it to an alternative recycling point? The ‘wrong’ sort of plastic can contaminate the recycling process.
  3. Make sure the plastic is clean: rinse to remove traces of food, detergent etc. Dirty plastic can contaminate the recycling process.
  4. Stack plastic trays together to minimise the amount the of space they take up – this stops your recycling bin from overflowing and reduces the need for larger sized recycling  trucks.  Similarly flatten plastic bottles. Both these practices will prevent loose items of plastic being falling or being blown out of your bin.
  5. Twin your Bin and help improve recycling across the globe. 

Eco tip: how to keep cool in hot weather

  1. Drink lots of fluids.
  2. Dress in loose light coloured and light weight clothes. Go bare foot. Wear a sun hat.
  3. Close curtains and open windows to keep the sun out and air moving through the room. Open windows on different sides of the house and different floors to encourage air to move through the house. 
  4. Turn off unused electrical appliances, even those on sleep may be emitting extra heat into the room.
  5. Hang wet towels over or near an open window, or place a bowl of water or ice by the window. Air moving through or across will absorb the moisture and cool the room. 
  6. Shade the outside of the window to prevent the glass from heating up and radiating heat into the room. You could use a sheet or towel as an ad hoc shade. Or place a gazebo or sun parasol to shade the window. Longer term consider fixing an awning to shade south facing windows. Or erect a pergola outside and allow climbing plants to shade the window.
  7. Sit with your feet in a bowl of cold water. Keep damp flannels in the fridge for a cool wipe.
  8. Freeze a plastic bottle of water (don’t completely fill the bottle as frozen water expands)  and use it as a cold ‘hot’ water bottle. To avoid ice burns wrap in a towel before placing it on your skin. Alternatively place in your bed at night.
  9. Fill a sock with rice, secure the end and place in the freezer. Use as a cold pad or as cold ‘hot’ water bottle in your bed. 
  10. Get up early and start your day while it is still cool. Catch up on sleep later with an siesta when its hot.
  11. Have you a tip to share?