Sometimes minor, effortless actions are highly beneficial to the environment (and usually to your pocket too). The general motto would be:
“Buy sensibly, use water reasonably, make the most of the heat you generate and never waste food”
Now, let’s go down to specifics:
- Choose always fruits and vegetables in season and grown locally. If you buy a product out of season with a short shelf-life the chances are it has been air-freighted. You might as well drive all the way to the other end of your country, you would be polluting the same (or even less) but at least you would do some sightseeing. Airplanes are EXTREMELY polluting, always keep that in mind. For more info on what’s in season in your country check more interesting stuff.
- Pick loose fruits and vegetables rather than packed and bring your own bags to the market. Deformed or not-up-to-standard fruits/vegetables are as edible and tasty as standard ones, prevent food from being thrown away buy the supermarket picking these products.
- Choose long-life alternatives (e.g: juice or plant-based milk). Pasteurized products need refrigeration throughout all the food chain (from the factory to the supermarket and at home) and generating cold is very energy consuming. Way more energy consuming than the heating process to turn them into long-life products.
- Buy organic products when possible.
- Not all types of plastic are recyclable. Choose reusable packaging when possible (e.g: a jar of jam that you can use to freeze sauce) or, at least, recyclable materials. This applies to everything you buy, from orange juice to shampoo.
- If it’s a non-perishable food, try to buy large packages to minimize packaging e.g, a packet of 2kg of pasta or pulses rather than 4 of 500gr, a big jar of passata rather than two small ones…
- Don’t be fooled by mega offers. It is only profitable if you’re going to be able to eat everything you buy.
- Please, don’t buy bottled water! Liquids are heavy so transport is expensive in terms of fuel and the oceans are already loaded with plastic. Bottled water is not magic or miraculous: it’s just water from a further area.
Don’t waste water
Everybody knows freshwater is a limited resource but what we sometimes don’t stop to think about is that purifying water in order to be drinkable consumes resources and pollutes the environment. Minimize the quantity of water that goes down the sink:
- A dishwasher is always better than hand washing (also in terms of hygiene). Don’t pre-wash dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, it’s a waste of water and time.
- Keep a jug of water in the fridge so you don’t have to let the tap water run in order to get cold water.
- Collect the water from washing the vegetables or soaking pulses to water plants, mopping the floor or to soak a dirty frying pan when hand washing.
Making the most out of the heat
- When you have to use the oven, cook more than one dish at a time. You can bake potatoes, butternut squash, sweet potatoes… and keep them baked in the fridge for at least a couple of days until you eat them.
- For recipes with long cooking times, the best thing you can do is cook loads of it and freeze it in portions (you will also save a lot of time with those ready-to-eat meals in your freezer). You can check the “freezable” category on this blog for ideas.
- Soak pulses overnight for shorter cooking times. It is also recommended to get rid of anti-nutritional factors (that make you gassy).
- Avoid heating more water than necessary. Pour the water into the kettle with the mug you are going to use to drink your tea. Some electric kettles allow you to select the temperature, there is no need to reach 100ºC (it would actually burn the tea leaves and the taste changes), 85ºC is just perfect.
- Use the base pan of a steamer to boil pasta or potatoes and put some fresh vegetables in the upper level to use the steam that is generated (you can keep steamed vegetables in the fridge for a couple of days before eating them).
- Heating water in a kettle is more efficient than using a pan. Boil water in a kettle and add it to the pan when cooking pasta instead of using cold water and heating it in the pan from the start.
Don’t waste food
- Buy only what you need. Don’t go to the supermarket before having a meal and don’t be fooled by mega-offers. It is only profitable if you’re going to be able to eat everything you buy.
- Ripen fruit is perfect for smoothies and ripen vegetables are perfect for sauces.
- Serve reasonable portions on plates so you can keep the leftovers for the next meal.
- Place the products in your fridge and cupboard by best-before-date order and rotate them every time you buy new ones.
- “Recycle” leftovers into another recipe. You can search by ingredients through this blog to get some ideas.
- The skin of a lot of fruits and vegetables are edible (and tasty and nutritious), e.g: potatoes, apples, courgettes, sweet potatoes, peaches… Lemons and other citrus species are perfect for grating and let dry (you can use them to season other dishes or to add a citric flavor to desserts and beverages).