3 Eco-Swaps for the Family Kitchen

In the light of children across the UK taking strike from school to protest climate change and call on our government to declare the climate problem as a national emergency, I thought I’d make a post that would help anyone, no matter the age, discover some simple changes they can do that will make their day-to-day routine more eco-friendly and even reduce plastic waste.

I completely understand and agree with the voices that are speaking out in these strikes. It makes me feel a lot more hopeful about the future generation – seeing how many children and teenagers are speaking out and protesting. I hope because of this schools, youth centres and youth groups will take more initiative to teach both students and staff the little changes they can make to help them feel more at ease and less helpless.

Now, I’m not personally a mother myself and I can’t imagine that happening for a couple more years as I still feel like a child myself at the age of 23. However, from being so close to my older sister who is both a mum of my two amazing nieces but also a fierce, awesome eco-activist, I have heard of a couple of ideas that can make the kitchen and lunchtime more eco-friendly for both adults, teenagers and children. Here are 3 tips you may find useful!

Switch from clingfilm to Beeswax Wraps

Now, in all honesty, I have yet to try this tip mainly because it’s very rare that I use clingfilm at the moment. I tend to put my leftovers in tupperware boxes in the fridge and my sandwich for work goes in a container where it doesn’t touch any other food so I’ve yet to feel the need for clingfilm or sandwich bags. However, as a kid for my packed lunches, my mum would always put my banana sandwiches (I was a strange child ok – that’s for another story) in a plastic sandwich bag that would be disposed of pretty much after I had eaten it. But with beeswax wraps you can wash and reuse them, they keep your food as fresh as clingfilm and if at some point you feel you really cannot reuse or re-pasturise yours anymore – you can pop it in the compost!

A Red and White Patterned Beeswax Wrap from BeeBee Wraps. Labelled Organic Cotton.
‘The Single Wrap’ from BeeBee Wraps. Can be bought here.

Some amazing Beeswax Wrap brands include BeeBee Wraps and The Beeswax Wraps Co.

Encourage the use of reusable water bottles

I bloody loved cartons of Ribena as a child. Or the occasional capri-sun. Even in high school, I’d look forward to having an Innocent smoothie carton at lunchtime. The carton that I only had because I’d pester my mum to buy me a pack of them in Tescos at age 14 because they were ‘healthy’ and ‘cool’. However, there are some ways you could start encouraging either your kids or even yourself to skip the plastic bottles and cartons of drinks in your lunches and go back to refilling and reusing a water bottle. Chilly’s Bottles are beginning to become all the rage now however any BPA-free water bottle will do and they’re quite easy to find online. Eco online store FROG: Friends of Gaia do some nice stainless steel ones.

Once you’ve got yourself into the habit of using your reusable water bottle -why not spice things up by trying different water infusions? I personally love putting lemon slices in water but you could try strawberry slices and mint leaf, lime slices, cucumber and lemon or maybe even kiwi! Here are some fab ideas that even the kids might like!

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Take on Meat-Free Monday… or Tuesday, Wednesday or whichever

Although it has been proven quite a few times that meat consumption and animal agriculture has a huge impact on the environment and that going vegetarian or vegan may be a good step if you want to shrink your carbon footprint; it is understandable that some people, especially families with children who are still quite picky about what they eat or may prefer eating particular meals to fit in with the other kids lunches at school, may struggle going completely cold turkey (pardon the pun) and transitioning to a plant-based household. It has been said that if ‘10 million people swapped meat to a plant-based protein for one meal‘ the impact would include reducing water usage by 13 million tonnes! (Find out more at World Meat Free Week)

(Left to Right) Quorn's Chicken Free Vegan Slices, Quorn's Cocktail Sausages, Quorn's Vegetarian Wafer Ham Slices and Cauldron's Middle Easten Falafels
Easy meat-free swaps for lunches

So to make your kitchen time more earth-friendly, how about making one day of the week a meat free day! Quorn do sandwich fillings that are quick and easy things to put in the kids sandwiches instead of ham or turkey – such as their Vegan Chicken-Free Slices or Vegetarian Ham Slices (£1.50 Tesco) or for a snack for either you or the kids you could use the Quorn Vegetarian Cocktail Sausages or Cauldron’s Falafel Bites (£2 Sainsburys). For dinner you could make a vegetable stir fry with all the good stuff like peppers, beansprouts, spring onions, carrots and tenderstem broccoli – the more colours, the better. There’s so many meat-free options that are tasty enough for the kids and you!

So that’s my 3 tips! The fight to be more environmentally-friendly is never a competition and don’t think you have to go throwing all your food out the window and blow tons of money on new Tupperware just to food prep. The easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is to start off small and work up because that helps you build habits faster. I hope you enjoyed my tips, let me know if you’d like me to share anymore!

Thank you for reading and have a lovely weekend!

Planning Eco-Conscious Resolutions

So if you’ve been on the internet over the past day or two you’ve probably come across the news of the recent UN climate report or at least seen something hinting or referring to it. Although now it can be really depressing or just plain out heartbreaking to read through an article telling you what you already knew (things are bad, things need to change etc.), it’s a very important piece of news that everyone should clue themselves up on and take away something from it. The report essentially warns what could happen to our tired planet and state of living if global temperatures were to rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. An article summarizing the report states ‘Staying at or below 1.5°C requires slashing global greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050.’ I very much recommend everyone looks into the report and at some articles which I will link below as what is unique about this report is that it tries to prove instances of what could happen if globally we were to invest into trying to change things for the better. It acknowledges what economic damages could happen when the temperatures increase but also that if we were to fight harder against climate change it would cause an economic boost. ‘A recent report found that a global shift toward sustainability would yield a staggering $26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030.

It is actually about 3am when I write this and I’d like people to take away from this blog post that I write stuff like this in a midst of anxiety and as a strategy of coping but also not losing hope and also trying to progress towards tiny, tiny victories and changes which if were to increase on a bigger scale would help encourage others to be more empathetic and understand the dangers of climate change. I feel personally the sad truth is everyone is very aware of climate change and although there’s an unfortunate selection of people who believe it’s fake or a myth (and even more sadly some of these people are in power), pretty much everyone can see the effects it’s having on the world. But has it become a tedious burnout for people? I used to get so upset in high school when I’d snap at my friends for littering or overusing hairspray/aerosols and I’d just get answered with an apathetic ‘the world’s already fucked, who cares’. I care. You should care too. It’s also very popular to have no care now. To engross ourselves in nihilistic banter where we joke we ‘crave death’ or that there’s no point to trying to change. But as funny as the odd joke is, I don’t want to walk head first into demise as if that’s what I was born to do. When I get anxious about the environment it’s because I know how many people are affected. So many innocent people suffer because of something they actually have a very small control over.

One of my recent ways of thinking about the environmental problem is that I’m actually starting to realise who is at fault here. Every human has a responsibility at this point. However the massive, rich companies have bigger carbon footprints than a small neighbourhood of people. The companies who point fingers at their consumers and claim ‘hey! Seals are dying because of you! You horrible scum!’ but then through every outlet they have, whether it be chain restaurants, chain superstores, they barely even recycle a small percentage of the mass amounts of garbage they create. The ingredients they use to create their coffees, that some companies still don’t pay tax for, are flown over creating a horrible amount of carbon emission but they stamp down on you, the small consumer, and claim you are causing natural disasters by not bringing in your own reusable cup. It’s all a hectic mess of capitalistic hierarchy and although there is benefits and flaws to big chain companies taking eco-friendly approaches by banning straws or charging for disposables – we fail to see that there are so many huge corporations paying to get away with damaging our planet and then turning the blame around on people just trying to get by.

So am I saying don’t support Starbucks disposable cup charge or a plastic bag charge cause ‘hey it’s not my fault anymore!’. Hell no.  You still have responsibility. The statement that if everyone does a little bit to contribute to fighting against climate change and helping the environment things could change is definitely true. Every little helps and the more people vote with their money and express their need for change through consumerism and support or petitions, the more things will change but it will realistically be in tiny doses and in my head I’m just picturing my country. The responsibility grows when you look at more and more countries in perspective. But if you are like me and literally cry whenever you get anxiety about the state of the environment or climate change’s effects – remember to take a step back and realise you are doing the best you can. If you are sat there going ‘fuck it not my problem!’ or failing to acknowledge what’s going on, then I’d want you to reconsider your mindset.

So I thought if everyone made small environmental related goals or resolutions (like new year resolutions) would that change things gradually? On larger scales you’ll hear of companies and organisations undertaking eco-friendly initiatives and such – for example a company might suggest that in their staff kitchen they’re going to stop purchasing disposable cutlery and cups and invest in reusable kitchenware and that all staff need to clean up after themselves and this will be to minimize their plastic waste. It’s a very made up on the spot metaphor but roll with me – if every family, couple, household or single person took on a mindset like this would it be beneficial?

I stopped eating vegetarian a couple of months back due to personal reasons and at least twice a week I claim that I want to go veggie again because I know deep down that eating vegetarian has bigger benefits in the bigger picture than how tasty a bacon sarnie would be. In a conversation about the report I mentioned me and my partner actually decided we’re going to slowly try to go vegetarian again. I see that as my goal for the next month. I also have been telling myself over the past month or two to cut down on buying new clothes and makeup, that if I really want to treat myself to something I should look into supporting independent businesses or secondhand clothing or I’ve also made it a goal that when my shower gels I have left over run out I want to invest in a packaging free soap (probably from LUSH, I have my heart set on the Sleepy Naked Shower Gel) because that means one or two less plastic bottles in the bin!

So what would your goals be? If you were a parent maybe you’d set your monthly goal to have one day a week that all household meals were meat-free (Meat-Free Monday for instance) or if you were a student you could make it a goal that you’d take your thermos to class instead of buying a coffee on campus so no disposable cup would be used? There’s a lot of ideas to think of and it can help the idea of starting off small and working your way through adding eco-friendly and sustainable routines to your life, all in all working towards the fight to help our planet!

What would you make as your environmental resolution for October?

Thanks for reading,

signaturejune18

Articles:

https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/2018/10/9/17951924/climate-change-global-warming-un-ipcc-report-takeaways?__twitter_impression=true

https://www.vox.com/2018/10/8/17948832/climate-change-global-warming-un-ipcc-report

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/10/how-to-understand-the-uns-dire-new-climate-report/572356/

https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/