With more than 250,000 followers between them on Instagram – sustainability influencer Katey Bamber of @my_plastic_free_home and Tessa Clarke, CEO of OLIO, a food sharing app (@olio.app), have some fantastic advice for living more sustainably and reducing waste at home.
Imperfectly plastic free
Mum of two Katey committed to trying to live plastic free in 2018 and has since been sharing her tips and experiences with her 90,000 Instagram followers. She strives for progress over perfection and understands that, for many of us, having some form of plastic in our lives will be inevitable, but it’s still important for everyone to try to reduce this.
Katey says: “If you’ve started thinking about how you can live more sustainably the chances are, you’ve felt quite overwhelmed about it. Living sustainably in the modern world has so many complexities and layers that you can very easily feel that there’s no real point in trying. Luckily for you I am going to share five every day tips that will have an impact on how you live!”
1. Choose less packaging
We buy and consume so many different products from the supermarket each week so choosing food and products that have less packaging will undoubtedly make a difference in the amount of waste we produce. Choose aluminium over plastic, buy naked veggies and take them all home without using the plastic bags and you will make such a difference.
2. Shop locally
We have become so reliant on that one big supermarket that it’s easy to forget how many options there are locally to us. Shopping at your local grocery store, butchers and bakery means that not only are you buying local food (with less air miles) but you’re also building the community around you and putting your money back into that same community. It’s one of the most impactful things you can do.
3. Invest in reusables
Think about the disposable products you use around your home or when you are out and about and see if you can replace them with something that can be used over and over. Whether it’s your grocery bags, coffee cups or reusable paper towels, there are so many options available that you probably never even knew about.
4. Think ‘do I really need this?’
It’s so easy for us to go online and order anything we want for next day delivery (even same day delivery in some cases!). The big question is – do we really need everything that we are buying? We don’t even give a moment’s pause to really think about it. A good way around this situation is to write down what you want to buy and wait a week before you commit to buying it. The chances are that when you revisit the idea in a week the impulse will have moved on to something else and you’ll wonder why you even thought you needed it.
5. Buy less, choose well, make it last
So you’ve decided that you do actually want that product? Invest in something of good quality that will last. Whether it’s clothes, a kitchen appliance or furniture, you want to be thinking about the life span of the product. Buying quality doesn’t have to be more expensive either. If you buy pre-loved, and if you’ve been resisting all of those impulse buys, you’ll be saving money too.
A really good rule to think about if you are buying clothes is ‘will I wear this 30 times?’ As a society we tend to buy clothes impulsively and view them as more disposable than they are. By looking for key pieces with good tailoring you will always look well dressed, spend less overall and not feel like you always have ‘nothing to wear’ because you’ll always be in style.
Ways to reduce food waste at home
Tessa Clarke is CEO and co-founder of OLIO, the UK’s leading sharing app, that helps neighbours to share food and fight waste. With the average UK family throwing away a whopping £700 of food every year, she shared OLIO’s tip five tips with us – the five S’s - to help reduce the amount of food you waste at home
1. Shop with a plan
It might not sound sexy, but one of the most effective things you can do is plan your weekly meals, then go shopping with that plan. I also recommend having one ‘cupboard meal’ per week; that way if your plans change you won’t waste the fresh food you’ve just bought.
2. Store your food properly
There are hundreds of food storage tips and tricks. Some of my favourites are that tomatoes should never be kept in the fridge; potatoes and onions should never be stored together; herbs should be kept like flowers in water; and popping a beeswax wrap/tin foil round the top of a bunch of bananas can slow their ripening by days. Another top trick is to make your freezer your friend — it’s not just the obvious like bread and chicken that can be frozen; lots of other things such as milk, eggs and herbs can be too.
3. Serve smaller portion sizes
There’s a lot of truth in that old childhood saying “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach”. So it’s really important to serve smaller portion sizes if you want to reduce your food waste — a simple hack here is to use smaller plates.
4. Save your leftovers
If you’ve made too much food, make sure to save your leftovers for another day. Leftovers can be surprisingly delicious as the flavours tend to develop after marinating for a day or two. Having plenty of storage containers is key to making this one work.
5. Share with your neighbours
For more useful tips and advice follow Katey at @my_plastic_free_home or @olio.app on Instagram or see our 12 tips to improve your sustainability at home.