Reduce, reuse, recycle

Buying a used kitchen is a great way to recycle while gaining a beautiful, new set of fittings and fixtures at a fraction of the cost of a brand-new equivalent. However, the recycling needn’t stop there. All of us are encouraged to reuse things wherever possible, and to dispose of rubbish in a responsible way to ensure as much of it as possible can be removed from landfill. Here’s how to set up your kitchen to ensure maximum rubbish reduction this autumn.

Set up a recycling station
The easier it is to sort rubbish for recycling, the more likely we will be to do it regularly. Look online, or browse the kitchen shops to get ideas for bins that separate items according to their materials. Or look out for attractive storage boxes or bags that can take a good amount of cardboard, glass, tins and foil. Allocate an area of your kitchen for recycling and empty the containers often, wiping round the area to keep it clean and fresh-smelling.

Choose from charity shops
Charity shops are springing up all over the country, selling a huge range of second-hand kitchenware. You can normally find plenty of standard pots and pans, crockery, cutlery and bakeware, but keep your eye out for more unusual kitchen items too. You can often unearth vintage gems, such as copper jelly moulds, fun-shaped butter dishes or old-fashioned utensils that will look great in your kitchen and could even inspire you to try out some new recipes.

Freeze for the future
When making a meal or sorting out the store cupboard, try not to discard anything that could be used in future cooking. If you grate too much cheese, for example, the surplus can be bagged and frozen for another day. Stale (non-mouldy) bread may seem useless, but it can be ground up into crumbs and put in the freezer for the next time you are cooking fishcakes. Unfinished wine can be poured into ice cube trays and frozen, ready to be added to a tasty casserole or gravy.

Crafty kids
If you have young children, the chances are they will enjoy arts and crafts from time to time. Packaging like milk bottle tops, clean tin foil, yoghurt pots and cereal packets can be turned into precious creations with a little bit of imagination, so make room in a cupboard to store things like these for future ‘junk modelling’ sessions. Once they have finished with their model and you have taken the requisite photos, they can be deconstructed and added to your recycling pile.

Plastic bag plans
Despite the new laws regarding paying for plastic bags, many of us are still bringing home an awful lot of them from the shops before discarding them straight away, or leaving them to fester in the kitchen. However, they can be re-used in so many ways, from bin liners and nappy sacks to temporary rain hats and make-shift foot covers at the swimming pool. Try stuffing them into gaps around pipes to help insulate the house in winter, or use as gloves to protect your hands when applying furniture polish. Tie a couple around your car wing mirrors overnight when a frost is forecast, to save time scraping in the morning.