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Six no-effort kitchen hacks that could help save the planet

You know that the small things you do at home can make a big difference to the world, right?

Don’t want to bang on about it, but if we all stop with the single-use plastics, for example, then millions of tonnes of plastic – all those bags, bottles, microbeads, straws and cutlery – will stop entering our waterways and reaching our oceans. If we also eat less meat, buy local and think about our chemical use a bit more, we’ll be on the right track.

Helping the planet really can start with our kitchens, right?

Here are some more hacks that can help…

1: Buy what you can locally 

Food miles are a big part of eco-friendly food considerations, and the fewer kms from farm to table, the better. There is less pollution caused by flying fruit and veg to wherever you are, plus as a bonus for you, less chemicals keeping them fresher for longer. If possible, buy from local farmers' markets, local retailers or purchase directly from farmers themselves. Even better -- grow your own.

2: Ditch the old pots and pans 

These days most non-stick cookware is free from harmful chemicals Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and Perflourooctanoic acid (PFOA), but those non-stick pans you inherited from your parents  – and ones that are scratched, damaged and flaking -- can be dangerous both for the environment and for you. At high temperatures they can give off a cocktail of 15 types of toxic particles and gases known to be poisonous to birdlife and can cause headaches, chills, backache, and fever in humans - a condition known as 'Teflon flu', so swap them out. Try stainless steel, which is durable and scratch-resistant and also dishwasher safe, making it easy to clean, or cast-iron cookware, which can withstand temperatures well above those considered safe for nonstick pots and pans.

Image: Getty

3: Ditch the chemicals for cleaning 

The list of what goes into many petrochemically-based dishwashing liquids, detergents, floor and surface cleaners and other household cleaning products can be, let’s say, confronting, given that it all runs off into our waterways. There are plenty of natural cleaning companies out there, but if you’re super keen, you can always create your own products. Why not try your own citrus kitchen cleaner – simply collect citrus rinds and pop them in a jar, cover with white vinegar and let it sit in a dark spot for a couple of weeks. Once it’s infused, just strain the liquid into a spray bottle. Voila! Your own cleaner. What’s not to love?

4: Honestly, stop with all those single use plastics 

We know you know this, but it needs to be said again. Take your own bags, buy fresh, unwrapped produce, and think carefully about how the purchases you're making are wrapped. Disposable plastic grocery bags require huge amounts of fossil fuels to produce each year and even though Australian supermarkets no longer give them away for free, those 15c bags are no one’s friend either. They end up in landfill or waterways. Use cloth or green bags for the grocery run, reusable mesh produce bags for vegetables and fruit, recycle jars for storing dry goods. Worst case scenario, reuse what you can for as long as you can.

Image: Getty

5: Buy -- and cook -- in bulk 

Purchasing from those bulk bin stores and co-ops mean less packaging, and fewer trips to the supermarket, which cuts down on driving pollution and fuel use. Total win win for the world. And bulk cooking is a more efficient use of appliance energy and your time – for example if you’re making a roast, cook a tray of vegetables for tomorrow’s lunch too. One more thing -- if you can, plan ahead; planning meals that can feed you for a few days is a great way to shop and cook efficiently

6: Start composting 

Approximately 50 per cent of what we throw out can actually be composted – did you know that? In fact, any uncooked organic waste (even hair) can be composted! From green materials that include fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, green plant cuttings, old flowers and many weeds, to brown waste like straw, paper and cardboard, dry leaves, woody prunings, eggshells, old potting mix, tea, coffee – composted waste can be used as a tool for the soil in your garden. Or your neighbours’ garden. Or your balcony plants. Get creative. Grab a counter top composter, which does all the work for you, and you won’t even have to go outside except to use said compost on your veggies.