Together for tomorrow


The Kitchen & Food Guide: Cook and clean with care

by | Jan 9, 2024

Reason to care: The kitchen is the hearth of many homes. It’s a space where family and friends gather to share food, connect with each other, tell stories, continue traditions, and build a sense of culinary community.

But, the kitchen can also be a space of wastage and unsustainable practices. Food waste is a huge issue. And, the cleaning products we use in our kitchens are often pretty harmful for the planet too.

As WWF points out, “Our farming practices and consumption patterns must protect the long-term maintenance of healthy landscapes, and the regeneration of our natural resource base such as our soils, water resources and energy options, while also ensuring profitable yields. This extends to ensuring the well-being of farmers and fishers, as well as local communities who rely on flowing rivers and nourished soil to survive and feed our nation.”

Luckily, there are easy ways to limit your impact while maintaining the kitchen as a site of care.

Small actions with big impacts:

  • Plan your meals ahead. By simply planning your meals, you will keep better track of what you have in your kitchen and prevent forgotten food from going off before you even use them. You can do this by making sure you keep older items near the front and making meal plans that use up all of your food items. You will also save money, avoid buying unnecessary food items and prevent food wastage in the long run.
  • Switch to eco-friendly cleaning products. You can source these from your local earth-friendly grocer. You can also make your own. You’ll be amazed at how effective baking soda and vinegar are for deep cleaning. Also, you’ll love how much better your house smells – no more toxic fumes from toxic cleaning materials.
  • As far as possible, buy local, in-season, and organic. Buying in-season reduces your food’s carbon miles, and buying organic is more environmentally friendly. Buying from local farms, producers, farmers markets, and informal traders contributes to shorter supply chains and reduced carbon emissions as well as bolstering the local economy. To discover 7 fresh produce boxes that will help you support small and local, click here.
  • Commit to reducing your meat consumption by a few meals per week. According to the report titled ‘1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Towards A Fair Consumption Space for All’, meat in South Af­rica con­tributes heavily to the food footprint (72%), due to the relatively high share of beef (30%) of the total meat consumption and notably carbon intensive livestock farming compared to other countries.
  • Buy misshapen foods. Large amounts of edible fruits and vegetables get rejected from supermarkets and end up being wasted purely because they are misshapen and considered too ugly for purchase. Embrace imperfects and reduce food wastage by buying misshapen foods.
  • Avoid food waste. According to WWF South Africa, “Each person in South Africa is estimated to waste about 210 kg of food each year. Most food loss or waste occurs even before it reaches retail or your fridge. About 49% is lost during processing and packaging, while 18% of waste occurs during the consumption stage. This results in one-third of all the food produced never even being consumed, which amounts to 10 million tonnes every year.”
  • Compost organic waste generated in your kitchen. Use a bin and add some activated bokashi bran to start the composting process and to avoid nasty smells. For tips on how and why to compost, click here. Plus, you will have great fertiliser and nutrients for your garden.
  • Source responsible seafood. Try to buy seafood from small scale fishers using sustainable practices. You can download the ABALOBI Marketplace App that connects small-scale local fishers with buyers looking for quality fresh fish.
  • Learn to ferment and preserve. Preserving vegetables so they can be eaten at any time of the year is an ancient art. Fermentation and pickling can reduce waste and transform fresh, seasonal produce into delicious and nutritious staples you can enjoy all year round. Follow Zayaan Khan for fermentation tips, tricks, and inspiration.
  • Try to choose products with minimal packaging. Our food is often housed in many layers of packaging. Some of it is useful for keeping food fresh, but there is a lot of it that is unnecessary too. Make sure to always carry reusable shopping bags, and try to opt for food options with minimal or recyclable packaging.

Places to access responsibly sourced and produced food:

If you are looking for inspiration, look here:

Image: Nabeela Karim 

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Our work is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 12, which aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production. Read More