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How to go plastic-free this July

Do your bit to cut down on single-use plastic this month.

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Are you planning to take part in plastic-free July, a global initiative designed to help people reduce their use of single-use plastics?

If so, these tips from marine scientist and cookbook author Finn Ni Fhaolain should be really helpful.

  • Shop loose as much as you can - think bread, fruit and veg. Bring your own bag to the shop, and buy glass jars, which you can keep and use for storage containers. Tin is recyclable, as are cardboard and paper (they can also be used for gardening etc).

  • Think of plastic as a last resort! Many types of soft plastics are not recyclable in Ireland and unlike glass or tin, plastic has only one, max two, more times when it can be viably recycled.

  • If you’re choosing wooden over plastic chopping boards, show them some love! I treat mine once a month with olive oil and lemon mix because it's antibacterial and stops the wood from drying out.

READ MORE: In the kitchen with Finn Ni Fhaolain

Finn Ni Fhaolain
Finn Ni Fhaolain

  • Clean green. My favourite brand is Lilly’s Eco Clean as they’re a small Irish company and their products can be refilled at local health food stores or bulk shops, making it more affordable than traditional products.

  • Love thy freezer. It's been said a million times, but I’ll say it again - bulk cook and freeze in portioned containers or you can use all those glass jars you’re now accumulating, as long as you only fill them three-quarters of the way. Only do this for food you love and will eat. Don’t do it with anything you didn’t like that much and will just lurk in your freezer for months to come.

  • Ditch the clingfilm! Fun fact, I once ran an entire industrial kitchen with no cling film and very little tinfoil, so I guarantee you can do it too. Check out my recipe on saltwaterstories.me for details on easy to make and affordable beeswax wraps to replace clingfilm. Get in the habit of soaking and reusing glass jars to store things, too.

READ MORE: Finn's gluten-free Irish soda bread recipe

Finn's carrot cake
Finn's carrot cake

  • Swapping to even just a few plant-based meals per week is the single greatest thing you can do to make your kitchen more sustainable. To give you an example: I did some rough calculations on it and last year alone, eating plant-based meals had nearly four times more impact on reducing my carbon footprint than all the other changes I had made combined.

  • Most tea bags are sealed with plastic glue, so opt for loose leaf tea for a plastic-free (and far superior) cuppa. For coffee fiends such as myself who’ve given into a capsule machine, there are a hoard of companies now doing completely compostable pods using Fairtrade coffee. For coffee beans, I am forever in love with Calendar Coffee.

  • With prices ranging from hundreds to thousands of euro, big-ticket kitchen items are often more aspirational than attainable. But with sites like www.donedeal.ie and Facebook marketplace you can find the blender of your dreams at a fraction of the price. Your dream is someone else’s unwanted wedding gifts. Real life example? I hate juicing and made someone very happy when I got rid of mine. For free. Meanwhile, I’m still jonesing for that milk frother.

READ MORE: Let's stop food waste: Meal planning and shopping list tips