The Plastic Pandemic: How to reduce kitchen plastic use

It's important to remember to choose reusable options wherever possible

It's important to remember to choose reusable options wherever possible - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a spike in single-use plastics, most of which will never be recycled. Here’s how you can make your kitchen a low-plastic space, all while keeping safe at this time.

Will you spend the next few months spending more quality time with your family?

Will you spend the next few months spending more quality time with your family? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In the pre-coronavirus world, the tide was slowly turning on single-use plastics. In the UK, we had dramatically curbed our usage, with reusable shopping bags, trendy ‘keep’ cups and refillable water bottles all becoming part of a new, low-plastic normal. But earlier this year, the coronavirus crisis hit the world fast and hard, and almost overnight, our reliance on single-use plastics came flooding back. In an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus, our world has suddenly become wrapped in plastic. Disposable masks and plastic gloves can be seen littered around town centres across the country, while bars are serving drinks in plastic cups and restaurants have pivoted to take-out operations, using a mountain of disposable containers and utensils. Online grocery orders have been arriving wrapped in plastic bags, and perspex screens have now become commonplace in restaurants and offices across Britain. While this has all played a part in the fight against coronavirus, the environmental costs of this plastic-wrapped ‘new normal’ are too significant to ignore. So just what can we do to help reduce our plastic consumption at a time like this? Our kitchens are a good place to start when it comes to reviewing our plastic usage, as this is where much of the damage is done. Here are just a few tips on how to create a more eco-friendly kitchen space as we come out of lockdown.

Choose refills

Those store cupboard essentials – pasta, grains and pulses – really came into their own during the lockdown. But as Britain opens back up, it might be time to make the switch and to start buying our non-perishable items in bulk from refill stores. There are several such shops dotted around Norfolk, and you simply bring your own refillable container, stock up on whatever you need – be it rice, cereal, chickpeas or spaghetti – and then pay for your items by the kilo. Not only could this plastic-free bulk buying help you to dramatically reduce your plastic waste, but it could save you time in the long-term as well, as you won’t have to keep nipping to the shop each time that a recipe calls for a can of red kidney beans. Re.Source General Store in Norwich is one such refillable store, and is currently open for collections and deliveries. The Green Parrot of Swaffam also boasts a well-stocked refill room. For more information on either store, please visit the websites: and .

Grow your own

Whether you have a sprawling patch of land or simply just a windowsill, now is a great time to try your hand at growing your own veg. There are many plants that can survive and thrive in limited space, so don’t be put off if you don’t have a garden. From a windowsill, you can grow a variety of herbs, as well as chillies and other varieties of pepper. Trailing tomato plants can also flourish on a sunny windowsill, too. If you are lucky enough to have some garden space, meanwhile, then the possibilities are practically endless – think root vegetables, leafy greens and even marrows. As long as you have some good quality soil and some strong sunlight (which we are blessed to have at present), then all variety of plants can thrive, with tomatoes, runner beans and potatoes all good options.

Always opt for reusable

We are all taking extra precautions to stop the spread of coronavirus, and it is inevitable that we will have to make some changes to our lives – some of which might involve making new purchases such as facemasks and other PPE equipment. But rather than stocking up on single-use, disposable facemasks, why not plump for a washable, reusable cloth mask instead? There are plenty of stylish, comfortable options, or you could even get crafty and make your own with some fabric from a local haberdashery. When it comes to restaurant meals, too, many of us have been choosing to go for take-out rather than dine in. While this is an excellent way to support the local, independent businesses that mean so much to our communities, there’s also the issue of disposable containers and single-use plastic cutlery to think about. Next time you’re placing a takeaway order with your favourite eatery, make sure to tell them that you have cutlery at home – it might be just a small gesture, but it all adds up to make a positive change.