Sustainable Swaps in the Kitchen

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...

This little mantra is certainly something to be mindful of, when you are consciously working to reduce your Carbon Footprint… But re-using at the risk of food poisoning? No thank you! If you have worked in the food industry, in a Licensed Kitchen, you will be well aware that there are A LOT of single use items involved.  There are regulations and procedures in place, to ensure the safety of all food prepared, and prevent the transmission of food borne illness in food preparation areas. Food Safety is serious business, and there is a delicate balance between being “green”, and making someone turn green (I’m talking #foodborneillness here)!!

We can’t get around the fact that single use plastics are a necessity in the food industry, but I like to think that we can make a difference by making small, “greener” choices in our kitchen.  I have found some fabulous substitutes for standard kitchen products, that allow me to practice exceptional food safety, and maintain my 5 Star Eat Safe rating.

I have used all of these products for some time now, and can whole-heartedly recommend each of these items from personal experience.  This is not a sponsored article - I happily purchase each of these products because I love them, they are great for my conscience, and they are excellent quality! Winning!

Here are my own #sustainableswaps that I have implemented in my own Licensed kitchen...

1.  Bio-Gone Cling Wrap, Food Grade Zip Lock Bags and Bin Liners

I was so excited when I discovered the Bio-Gone range of biodegradable plastic products.  EVERYTHING in the Bio-Gone range is able to be recycled, or if it must be disposed of in landfill (eg. bin liners), it is biodegradable (consumed by biological processes).  BOOM!! How good is that? As a side note, it’s important to check that your plastic items are actually labelled as “Bio-Degradable” or “Compostable”, rather than “Degradable” - the difference being that Degradable items will break down into smaller plastic particles that will disperse throughout the environment - the same way that glitter (also made from plastic particles) ends up on EVERYTHING! Nasty!  So don’t be fooled by unbleached cardboard packaging with leaves printed on it - don't confuse “degradable” with “BIOdegradable”.  It just isn’t the same thing!

2.  KOH Universal Cleaner & Essential Oils

This Australian owned and made eco-friendly cleaning product is absolutely amazing!  The Universal Cleaner is exactly that - able to be used to clean almost anything - and it makes short work of grease and grime in the kitchen.  KOH Universal Cleaner is easy to use, inexpensive, and has NO SMELL (so you won’t be suffocated by any strong smells).  The Universal Cleaner comes in a handy cardboard cask, and you refill the dispenser as you need it, which saves a lot of plastic (and is a million times better than buying those “refill” packs of All Purpose cleaner at the supermarket!!). I like to add a couple of drops of KOH lemon oil to my spray bottle, which makes it just a little bit fancy, and it smells super fresh!

3.  LED Lights

Schedule a call out for your local friendly electrician to supply & install LED light fittings.  LED lights last FOREVER, and use a fraction of the electricity that standard or compact fluorescent bulbs use.  Less electricity consumption means you make a smaller carbon footprint. Simples.

4.  Buy in bulk!!

Not only will you save a lot of money by buying in bulk, but you will also save a tonne of packaging.  A massive single use plastic saver for me is buying my vanilla bean paste in bulk.  I used to buy Queen Vanilla Bean paste at the supermarket, in 140 gram tubes, that would barely last me a week and then I later discovered the larger 320 gram tubes in local cake supply stores, and these lasted a little longer.

I don’t know about you, but I use vanilla bean paste in almost everything - I don’t bother with vanilla extract any more (not even in cake recipes where exact is listed as an ingredient), and I most certainly don’t bother measuring with a teaspoon. I sound like an addict here, but I was going through vanilla bean paste (and plastic tubes) at a rapid rate.  After feeling guilty about tossing yet another empty vanilla tube into the recycling bin, I decided to place an order directly from Queen Fine Foods (I got the idea from one of my lovely Cake Sisters).

Not only have I saved almost 50% off the retail price, I have so far saved exactly 15.625 large plastic tubes (or 35.714 small tubes!!), by buying a 5kg tub of vanilla bean paste, and carefully decanting it into a reusable squeeze bottle.

Hot Tip:  If you are buying consumables in bulk, get your hands on some silicone funnels (I got mine at Kitchen Warehouse) to make the transfer into smaller containers cleaner & easier.

5.  Re-usable Produce Bags (Flora & Fauna)

Reusable shopping bags are a great sustainable swap, but have you thought about removing single use produce bags from your life? We swapped across to re-usable mesh bags for purchasing fresh produce some time ago, and it has saved us SO MUCH plastic!  The bags are washable (we toss them in a delicates bag and then into the washing machine), and are light, compact and easy to throw into your regular shopping bags.  We have a hook inside our pantry door to store our empty bags, and they happily hang by their draw-string while they wait for their next use.

6.  Re-sealable Containers (Williams Sonoma Melamine Mixing Bowls with Lid)

Sure, it’s super convenient to tear a piece of cling film to seal off a mixing bowl that has leftover buttercream, ganache, or berries, so that it stays fresh and safe for future use… BUT… bowls with LIDS are a smart substitute for this.  I chose to purchase melamine bowls, that are non-porous and therefore able to be sanitised with my regular food grade sanitiser.  You’ll find aesthetically pleasing options at Williams Sonoma, Kitchen Warehouse, Myer & Peter’s of Kensington.

7. Loyal Biodegradable Piping Bags

TAKE MY MONEY!!  I have been using Loyal’s Biodegradable bags since they were released, and they are exceptional quality.  And now that they are available in 12” & 18” sizes, there’s really no excuse to use anything else!

8.  KOH Dishwasher Tablets

This is my newest #sustainableswap, and I can honestly say, that these cute little blocks are amazing.  You don't need to use toxic dishwasher tablets any more! Hooray!

What else can you do to help our planet?

  • It’s pretty obvious, but RECYCLE as much as humanly possible!  We have separate bins for collecting standard recycling (for Council Bin Collection kerbside every fortnight), soft plastics (that we take to the bins at our local supermarket), and for Envirobank (bottle & can) recycling.
  • Don’t buy cheap & nasty products that are poor quality and need to be replaced often.  Spend a little extra on items that won’t break or wear out easily - make a decent investment in your kitchen utensils and they will pay off in the long run (and not end up in landfill).
  • Buy products that have multiple purposes. The less containers & packaging cluttering up your cupboards, the better!
  • Shop local. By supporting businesses in your own city, state or country, you will not only save on freight charges, but you will be reducing your carbon footprint induced by said freight charges.
  • Check out websites like Flora & Fauna and Biome for environmentally friendly swaps that appeal to you and your lifestyle.

Remember, every little bit counts!