UK bins lined up in the street

The best of British waste at home

British waste. It’s not something we often talk about, but like every nation, we have shared shopping interests that create excessive amounts of waste for single items. Think about America, they’re known for plastic bottle waste. Japan is known for their large amounts of sushi plastic packaging waste. All nations have waste that mirrors the behaviours and habits of the residents who live there. We bet you’ve already figured out a few for the UK. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the best of British waste at home and see how it impacts the environment and if there are any eco-alternatives.

Tea bags 

You knew it was coming. Tea. We all love a good ol’ cuppa tea in the UK. It’s almost an offence to not drink tea, isn’t it? (Don’t worry, we have staff members who don’t drink tea so we’re not ostracising the non-tea drinkers, we just think they’re a bit… well strange). Anyway, back to tea. If you’re not a big fan of traditional English Breakfast tea, you’ve probably checked out green, jasmine, or chamomile. But how much waste comes from tea bags? 

In recent years, many brands have released ‘compostable’ and ‘biodegradable’ tea bags. But, if you’ve popped a tea bag in your compost, have you checked to see how it’s doing? To be classed as compostable it needs to completely break down in industrial composting facilities within 180 days. Even biodegradable isn’t always eco-friendly as it just means the bag will break down anywhere between 6 months and 1,000 years – bear in mind plastic breaks down in 500 years. Be careful not to be misled by branding and check to see what your tea bags are made from, look for positive materials like Soilon, PLA and NatureFlex. 

In the UK we drink roughly 36 billion cups of tea in a year. Just a few eh! It makes tea bags one of the largest contributors to our waste for a single item. With so much tea being drunk, and many teabags not being eco-friendly, how can we change our behaviour to be more green? 

Loose leaf tea is a great idea. Not only do you get to use fancy tea infusers or strainers, but you also get a better flavour from loose-leaf, and you can reuse the same leaves up to three times too. That being said, we understand the convenience of a bag. So just be mindful about which brand you choose. It’s not always a Yorkshire vs PG tips decision. Check out some of these lesser-known brands who have invested time in developing a better bag:  

The best of British waste: Crisp packets 

Who doesn’t love a good bag of crisps? They’re the ultimate food. Take them on the go, have them as your mid-morning snack, or late at night. Great with a movie, perfect for pretty much any time of day, crisps are incredibly versatile. However, the multi-use of crisps means that roughly 16 million packs are thrown away every day. This may surprise some, but we’ve certainly been guilty of sitting down to 2 or 3 packs in an evening! 

In recent years, there has been a lot of pressure on big crisp brands to start investing in recyclable packaging, but few have adapted. Most crisp packets still need to be taken to a recycling location to be recycled; it’s often a recycling drop-off scheme in a supermarket. Ultimately, the majority of crisp packets are sent to landfill, truly the best of British waste as there doesn’t seem to be much willingness to find an eco-alternative. 

We hear you ask, ‘surely there are some brands thinking ahead?’ Yes, there are, but after some extensive research, only one seems to be resolving the issue. Two Farmers. Located in Herefordshire, this company has 100% compostable packets for their crisps that come in 6 flavours, grown from the potatoes on their own farm. It’s quite a wholesome process and we love it, but sadly, it’s an anomaly. 

Now, we know what you’re thinking, this isn’t exactly accessible to the masses. This is why we encourage you to make your own crisps. Grab some potatoes from your local supermarket and get baking. We’ve got a few recipes in this blog for you to test out. The best part is you can even use potato peelings to make crisps. Make as many as you like and flavour them as much as you want. Crisps; the best of British waste transformed into reducing food waste – genius. 

The Queen of British foods: The Sunday Roast 

Unlike Tea and Crisps, the Sunday Roast doesn’t come with standard packaging. It’s a wide variety of ingredients put together to make a dish that is somewhat famous across the globe. Other nations can try, but nobody can put a Sunday dinner together like the Brits. So why is it part of the best of British waste list? Because food waste is still one of our nation’s biggest issues, and Sunday Roast food waste trumps over every other meal. 

Gluttony. We’re all guilty of it. Whether your Sunday roast is dished up for you, or it’s a free-for-all self-serving occasion. Even some restaurants have a ‘build your own roast’ option. But if there is one dinner we all add a like extra to, it’s the Sunday Roast. It’s a feast. 

So, to create less waste with your Sunday Roast there are a couple of things you can do. Cook less. Of course, this can be difficult if you’re cooking an entire chicken, turkey or beef joint. But consider fewer roasties as potatoes are one of the most wasted food items in the country. 

Another idea is to make your roast last longer than one day. If you have any meat leftover, try and use it for dinner the next day. Here are some great recipe ideas from Love Food Hate Waste. If there’s any leftover veg, remember that you can freeze them and use them for another Sunday Roast. You can even freeze your gravy in ice cube trays for future use! 

There are plenty of ways to reduce your roast’s food waste, even asking your guests what dishes they will or won’t eat will tell you how much of each to cook. There’s no need to cook an entire tray of stuffing if only one or two people will eat it. A little more planning, scaling back, and if necessary, reusing, and your Sunday Roast can go from the best of British waste to a zero-waste dish.

That’s the best of British waste inside the home. Tea, crisps, and Sunday roasts. We’re hungry just thinking about it! There’s no need to remove any of your favourites from your lifestyle, especially not the traditional cuppa. But there are plenty of eco-alternatives out there to reduce your impact on our British environment. What other traditional items do you think make up the best of British waste? Share your ideas in the comments below and how you’ve swapped them out for better alternatives. 

2 Responses

  1. Appalled and insulted at the idea that anyone would waste expensive food just because they have cooked too much! Everyone that can afford a Sunday feast has a fridge and most likely a freezer too!

    1. We are too but according to local collection stats, people are wasting these types of foods. We’re hoping, together, we can get the message across and make a difference.

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