The room in your house you can easily make eco-friendly

Contemporary eco kitchen by Future Simple Design

From ditching black plastic to stopping your paper towel habit, the quickest tweaks are the ones you can do in your kitchen, says Lucy Dunn 

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By Lucy Dunn on

Hands up who’s got eco overwhelm? You want to try and do more stuff to help the planet, but you’ve realised the problem is so huge that you’re not sure where to start? Is that non-toxic kitchen cleaner really the best thing to buy, when it’s sold in a non-recyclable plastic bottle? Is that bamboo flooring really that eco-friendly, when it comes packed in polystyrene that’s hard to recycle – not to mention all those air miles getting it here? There are so many things waiting to trip us up – like working out how much less harmful one manufacturing process or material is compared to another. Plus, there’s also the fact that there’s always the possibility we could be being “greenwashed” by brands making grand claims about being eco, too…

Apparently 1.3bn black plastic trays used in ready meals are burned or dumped in landfill each year; as they cannot be reccyled

It’s a minefield. But, as my mum always says, you won’t get anywhere if you think too much. So, I’ve decided to stop tying myself up in knots and just do my bit – because every little helps, even buying a reusable coffee cup or making tea with loose tea instead of tea bags, and the one room you can eco-up most easily and cheaply is the kitchen. Apart from the usual suggestions (recycling, composting, choosing energy-efficient appliances), there are lots of quick and easy little things you can do, right now. Here are the changes I’m going to try this week:


…and give it a miss if it's sold in black plastic. Apparently, 1.3bn black plastic trays used in ready meals are burned or dumped in landfill each year; the reason being that they cannot be recycled as machines aren't able to identify them in the recycling process. This amounts to nearly as much wastage as non-recyclable coffee cups. According to experts, it would cost less than 0.5p a tray to use a different colour, or a special pigment that can be detected by machines, but most retailers have so far avoided making the change – with the notable exception of Iceland, which recently announced a five-year bid to go plastic-free, swapping bad black plastic for more eco-friendly wood-pulp containers.  

Stop buying paper towels

I will ditch my habit of buying kitchen roll, because not only is it bad for the environment, it’s also an expensive habit to have – also, do I need them? I don’t fry stuff very often, you can buy reusable paper towels for mopping up spills – and am I the only person who stockpiles these washcloths for babies from Ikea?

Buy a water filter jug

If you want to cut down on bottled water but don’t like tap – and I’m not judging, I drink it at home but am not keen on the water in our office – you can install a fancy filtration system in your fridge or kitchen sink. If you haven’t got that kind of cash, a filtered water pitcher isn’t expensive. Neither is a filtered water bottle to take round in your bag with you.


Am I the only one to spend a lot of my time staring into my fridge, hoping some tasty snack will just materialise before me? Apparently, opening doors wastes energy and costs you money – ditto with having your fridge somewhere sunny (it has to work harder to keep cool) and putting food that is still hot into the fridge .

Use the microwave WHEN I'M ON MY OWN

Apparently, it uses 50 per cent less energy than a conventional oven.

AND If I need to use THE COOKER, cook in smaller pans

Choosing the smallest pan is energy-saving. Also, silicone, glass and ceramic are better than baking tins in the oven as they can reduce the cooking temperature required.   

Eco up my cleaning

Nowadays, supermarkets have an eco-friendly version of everything. Method is one of my favourite brands as they are also beautifully designed – an extra impetus to keep hold of the bottles and buy refills instead of buying new ones. Ecover has this month launched a washing-up liquid in a bottle made from 100 per cent recycled plastic that is also 100 per cent recyclable. And there are now also loads of biodegradable cleaning tools, like loofah pads (you can ditch those non-degradable sponges) and floor mops that use only water (no detergent) – clever, or what?


Wasting food is annoying, wasteful, clogs up landfills and creates methane, which is a more destructive greenhouse gas than CO2 and contributes to global warming. I love this idea for a fridge triage box. I probably wouldn’t go so far as actually making one myself, however, clearing a space in the fridge for all the things that need to be eaten first is a no-brainer and something everyone can do this week.




Shop Smarter is part of our regular series on finding simple ways to shop in an eco-friendly way

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Contemporary eco kitchen by Future Simple Design
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