Read on to learn about our top sustainability tips, then check out our pick of sustainable restaurants to visit, best sustainable spirits and best sustainable kitchenware.


1. Join the OLIO app

Meet the local community app that connects neighbours so they can give away, rather than throw away, food waste.

There are times when you just can’t avoid making food waste – it might be a meal you intended to cook but then you ate elsewhere, an overload of something in a veg box, or a bulk buy that’s nearing its best before date. Dried food isn’t a problem to redeploy but fresh food is much harder. In our test kitchen we have produce, products and cooked food left over from recipe tests, so we use an app called OLIO to help manage this. OLIO is a local community app that connects neighbours so they can give away, rather than throw away, food waste. Many of us use it at home as well. The app has been going for five years so it’s had time to iron out any glitches and there’s a strict code about saying you’ll take something and then not turning up, so when people say they’ll come, they do. Since its launch, the app claims to have shared 40 million portions of food, which is the environmental impact equivalent of taking 120 million car miles off the road, saving six billion litres of water and preventing 36,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions. You can also give away non-food on OLIO and borrow or lend pieces of equipment. So whether it’s a portion of soup, some spare cake (if you’re an OLIOer near our office, you’ll be eating Christmas food in July) or a bag of rice, someone will want to eat what you can’t.

A pair of hands gifting a load of bread to another pair of hands

2. Switch to sustainable drinking

When it comes to sustainability in drinks, glass bottles are one of the biggest headaches as they generate a large carbon footprint. The wine industry has seen many innovations to solve this – from bag in box to ultra-lightweight plastic and paper bottles, and now the spirits industry is starting to follow suit. Norfolk distillery Gyre & Gimble has teamed up with Naked Wines to create a recyclable paper bottle of its Coastal Gin. The new bottle is made using 94% recycled paper and is much lighter than a glass bottle, with a carbon footprint that is six times smaller than the glass equivalent. Silent Pool Distillers’ new Green Man Wildwood Vodka is made from an almost entirely recyclable cardboard bottle, with a similarly low carbon footprint. Whisky drinkers should keep an eye on premium blended scotch brand Johnnie Walker which is developing its own paper bottle, set to be released in the next couple of years.

A bottle of Coastal Gin

3. Give your kitchen a sustainable makeover

Clingfilm, paper towels and baking paper are all single-use throwaway items that you have to keep buying again and again (yes, you can wash and reuse foil but it won’t last that long). Kitchen paper is useful for all sorts of things, which is why it’s easy to get through so much of it, but it often can’t be recycled or biodegraded despite being paper. It’s easily replaced with reusable cloths for most kitchen jobs, even for food-related tasks, if you needed to blot fried food for example.

Sheets of reusable kitchen roll made from bamboo fibre can be washed up to 85 times. Washing does mean you use water, but so does making new disposable paper towels. Adding them to an existing wash will help to reduce this. If you can’t bring yourself to give up paper towels entirely, then look for biodegradable options like Oceans Plastic Free. Clingfilm can be replaced with lots of alternatives, such as stretchy silicone lids, wax wraps, reusable wrappers or just putting a plate on top of a bowl. If it’s something you’re reaching for often, it’s worth investing in a few containers with lids. For sandwiches and food on the go, you could use compostable sandwich bags as well as reusable containers. They tend to cost more than the single-use plastic version, so see this as an incentive to use less or use one multiple times. If you need to dispose of something, be aware of how it breaks down. Some brands of baking paper can be composted – the box will state whether it can – or try reusable cake tin and tray liners. These are a good investment and will last for years.

Two rolls of plastic free kitchen rolls placed on a kitchen top

4. Buy eco-friendly washing-up products

Ditch the plastic bottles and throw-away sponges, and try some greener alternatives.

It’s easy to forget that there’s waste generated by clearing up after a meal. Plastic bottles of washing-up liquid, sponges, cloths and kitchen paper all have a shelf life, some longer than others and a few of them ultra-disposable. You can make adjustments to what you buy and cut down on this considerably.

Companies such as Andrée Jardin have been making beautiful, affordable wooden brushes in Brittany for 60 years. A beechwood (beech is fast growing) washing-up brush with vegetable fibre bristles can be separated into metal (the hook and head attachment) for recycling and the handle and brush head are biodegradable. Eco Coconut is another option for brushes, made ethically in Sri Lanka from coconut fibre, stainless steel wire and FSC-accredited timber for the handle. If you prefer a scourer, try a cactus or coconut fibre scourer from Eco Vibe.

Consider swapping your bottle of washing-up liquid for a bar of dish-washing soap. The soap is often multipurpose and can be used to clean your hob and sink, too, and most bars will save you more than one bottle of liquid.

Andrée Jardin wooden brush on a tea towel

5. Start residual or carry-over cooking

You probably already know about residual cooking, you already do this when you rest a roast or steak after cooking it. When you take the meat out of the pan or oven, the outside of the meat is hotter than the centre and the heat will continue to transfer inwards until the temperature equalises – it keeps cooking until this transfer is complete.

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The residual heat within an oven or pan will also keep cooking the contents as it cools down. Some ovens with probes will switch themselves off before the cooking time is finished to take advantage of this and give more energy efficiency. Dense food and liquids hold heat well, as do cast iron and other heavyweight pots and pans, ceramic and glass dishes. This residual heat is something you can take advantage of. Hardcore fans work out how much earlier they can turn off an oven, leaving whatever is inside to finish cooking (no door opening) but there are some easier first steps. When cooking pasta, boil it for 1 minute, stir the pasta to stop it sticking, put the lid on and turn off the heat. The residual heat is enough to cook the pasta during the remainder of the time recommended. Cook poached eggs in the same way, and greens and other veg. As you get used to the principle you’ll get better at judging for yourself, saving a little bit on fuel each time you do it.

Woman lifting lid on cooking pot in kitchen

6. Download the Sustained app

In a world where we’re actively encouraged to be kinder to the environment, apps such as Sustained are providing shoppers with the know-how.

It’s no longer just about where our food has come from but also how much energy it’s used to travel from supplier to buyer. Compatible with major supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Ocado, Sustained uses categories such as water scarcity, land use and damage to wildlife to help rate the environmental impact of a food’s production. Products are rated on a scale of A to G, with A ranked as the best with the least environmental impact. The app can either be used in store by scanning product barcodes as you shop to instantly bring up a score, or you can use the search function to look for products and find out what their environmental impact is before you buy. You can get an average sustainability rating for your entire food shop and search for alternative products that will improve your rating. Sustained hopes that by providing shoppers with more transparency on food production, people will be able to make more informed choices, which in turn will encourage big brands and food producers to evaluate their practices and make greater improvements.

A woman scanning coconut water with the Sustained app on a phone

7. Buy sustainably produced meat online

There’s no doubt that eating less or no meat is good for the planet, and making the meat you choose to eat as sustainably produced as it can be is a step in the right direction. Depending on where you live, buying meat online and in bulk (to save on the carbon footprint of transport) can make this easier than searching for it locally, if you have room to store it. There are plenty of companies to choose from, depending on what you are looking for, and each has strong relationships with their producers that they share publicly. The Ethical Butcher ( believes in regenerative farming that’s better for humans, animals and the planet, and sources from farms it trusts as well as investing in training. Farm Wilder ( encourages the farmers it works with to raise their animals sustainably, bringing back wildlife diversity, pasture feeding and planting. It has butchery at its core, and its packaging is sustainable. Farmison & Co ( sources from small family farms around Yorkshire to create a good range of products. You can opt for how eco your packaging is depending on how recycling works where you live. If you’re a fan of goat (we are) then Cabrito ( is your one-stop shop. It sources kids that are by-products from dairy farms where they would otherwise be wasted, and work with farmers to turn them into high-quality goat meat.

A t bone steak on a black oval plate with a knife and small pot of sauce

8. Swap beef for deer

How eating more deer meat can help to prevent food waste.

During the past 18 months the number of deer in the UK rose because of the drop in demand from restaurants closed in lockdowns. Overpopulation of any species is rarely a good thing and rising deer numbers can lead to lack of food for them, as well as the destruction of woodland and habitats where other species live. Deer have no natural predator so, if we don’t eat them, they would have to be culled and become food waste.

An oversupply is also an opportunity – wild venison is lean, nutritious and sustainable, and as a nation we don’t yet eat much of it (try our venison recipes here). Deer Box venison is harvested with lead-free shot, hung for seven to 10 days and prepared with full traceability. The breed of deer and cuts vary according to season, and the meat is sent out frozen. In 2021, 10% of all the venison Deer Box produces goes to The Country Food Trust Charity, which distributes venison-based meals to charities.

A plate of deer, mash and cavolo nero in gravy

9. Order no/low-waste takeaways

Delivery companies and restaurants are putting lots of thought into trying to eliminate waste. Waste is generated all the way along the food journey, from growing to serving or delivering, so it’s no mean feat to tackle every part of the chain. Here’s how two companies have done it.


DabbaDrop, a takeaway service sending out set meals using a subscription pre-order model, is tightly controlled around all aspects of sustainability. Pre-orders means ingredients can be ordered in the correct amounts, making minimal kitchen waste. The meals are then delivered by push bike, e-bikes or electric refrigerated vans. The meals are delivered in reusable stacked stainless-steel tiffin boxes (called dabbas), with any sides packed into compostable paper bags or pots, so everything is free of single-use plastic. Used dabba tins are swapped each delivery with new ones. Currently London-based.


Jikoni is a London restaurant with deliveries under its Comfort & Joy brand. It uses 100% home-compostable packaging with zero plastic for delivery, it works with a high number of sustainable producers, and its waste partner is First Mile. First Mile is building an electric waste collection fleet and is zero-to-landfill, with all non-recyclable business waste sent to generate green energy. Jikoni also collaborates with suppliers to reduce packaging arriving at the restaurant and, in June this year, it became the UK’s first independent restaurant to go carbon-neutral.

A hand holding a DabbaDrop container against an orange background

10. Buy sustainable wine

We asked Stephen and Jeany Cronk of Mirabeau for their tips on buying French wine.


Look out for wineries that talk about what their efforts are for the environment – in France there is the Haute Valeur Environnementale Label (HVE) that is getting traction, as well as organic certifications such as Ecocert and AB (Agriculture Biologique), and biodynamic wines are labelled Demeter and Biodyvin.

Where to buy

Supermarkets are starting to offer great choice in these categories, especially organic wines, and there are a growing number of online wine merchants promoting inspiring winemakers. Some of our favourites are Little Wine Co, Pull the Cork and Wanderlust. Waitrose and Ocado have set up a B-Corp virtual shopping aisle and are adding more wines to this. Certified B-Corps are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment.

What to buy

In looking to make more sustainable choices when buying wine, try bag-in-box and cans. Both options offer brands more sustainable and cost-effective solutions with a lower carbon footprint, and they are becoming increasingly popular.

A French vineyard

11. Buy mixed sized eggs

Chickens don’t lay uniformly sized eggs – for example, younger birds lay smaller eggs, so this means that farms don’t have a steady supply of eggs of all one size. Larger eggs have come to be a standard in many recipes but they don’t need to be – even for baking, a correct combined weight of eggs will do nicely (bear in mind standard egg weights are shell-on). An increasing number of egg producers such as Clarence Court sell boxes of mixed sized eggs, and if this is what you buy you may find that the smaller eggs have a much bigger and better yolk-to-white ratio. The other reason to buy small and medium eggs rather than just opting for a box of large is for the sake of the hens – their life is easier producing smaller eggs. Find more information at

A large, medium and small size egg

12. Try an ethical meat box

Eating less meat is, of course, good for sustainability, but choosing carefully which products to buy is also key. The Ethical Butcher, founded by Farshad Kazemian and Glen Burrows, does all that research for you.

Glen explains: “Our goal is to set a gold standard for the production of food that is not only sustainable, but regenerative. Regenerative farming is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems. It focusses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, supporting biosequestration, increasing resilience to climate change and strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil.”

Product to try: Slow-grown soy-free chicken. Roasted, it delivers rich-tasting flesh and crisp skin. We tried it pressure-cooked, too, and it gave us an intense broth. Pick from three sizes – the largest is a whopper. The smallest, £19.50, made four meals for three.

13. Plan ahead to avoid food waste at Christmas

Plan ahead and use our top tips to avoid throwing away your left-over festive food this year.

It’s easy to buy too much food at Christmas – calculating exactly how much you need involves an intricate knowledge of how much everyone eats, so it’s almost impossible to buy the right amount. But there are other ways you can reduce waste – try our handy tips:

  • Check what everyone is eating; how many vegetarians and vegans are there? Think about adjusting some recipes, such as gravy, to suit everyone.
  • Check your fridge and freezer space, and perhaps eat your way through some things the week before you do your shop.
  • Check condiments – last year’s cranberry sauce might still be edible.
  • Find some recipes that use up leftovers. Fritters are brilliant for using up root veg, roast potatoes can be refried and topped with harissa, and virtually anything can be made into a soup. Cheese and meats can stuff toasties and Christmas pudding can be stirred into ice cream. Check out our best Christmas leftover recipes here.
  • Give anything you won’t eat away. Storecupboard essentials can go to food banks, and you can offer fresh food to people nearby using apps such as Olio.
  • Re-gift edible gifts that you know you won’t eat – someone will!
Spiced Sprout Fritters With Duck Eggs

14. Gift sustainably

As well as looking out for green credentials on gifts you can buy, seek out products made with rescued raw materials, such as wood – this can make a considerable cut to carbon emissions. Hampson Woods rescues wood from London plane trees that have fallen to make its collection of wooden boards (from £35; Goldfinger, a social enterprise that uses trees felled due to weather or urban development, offers a selection of boards, bowls and utensils, all made from different types of wood. Its angular Erno collection starts at £16 for a butter knife, and it also makes some exclusive pieces for Selfridges ( And, at Re (, reconditioned wooden rolling pins cost from £8.50, while reconditioned breadboards start from £26. If you’re in the market for kitchen furniture, Woodmancote Retro ( uses salvaged wood alongside its signature tubular steel to make stools, tables and benches.

Sustainable guides in the form of books also make a very good stocking filler or secret Santa, and the recently published An Opinionated Guide to Eco London: Enjoy the City, Look After the Planet by Emmy Watts from Hoxton Press (£9.95) is a prime example. While not exhaustive, it gives a good range of places to drink and eat, from coffee shops and wine merchants to restaurants (including olive favourite Fallow). This little book also covers shopping, theatres and places outdoors. If you are New York-bound then New York Walks by Jane Egginton will give you a different view of the city, encouraging you to see and visit places you pass rather than travelling from destination to destination (£10.99, Duncan Petersen Publishing). The map is 3D and very detailed, showing you each building and alerting you to places to stop for a coffee or to eat and drink. The Eco-Conscious Travel Guide by Georgina Wilson-Powell offers 30 European train journeys to plan a holiday around, including three food-themed tours, and must-have train picnics (£12.99, HarperCollins).

15. Look out for compostable plastic

Discover how scientists are working to improve biodegradable packaging.

One of the trickiest parts of inventing a whole new type of plastic is persuading people that it isn't just like the old one, because it often looks and behaves in the same way. Biodegradable plastics, for example – put these in your recycling and they contaminate it, possibly lasting as long in the environment as ordinary plastic. Putting them in your home compost doesn't work either – they generally have to go into an industrial composter. There's also the problem of microplastics that are a by-product of the breaking down process – the plastic doesn't degrade entirely. Better labelling, preferably in large print, so it's easy to see, would be helpful for home sorting.


Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have worked out a way to embed certain enzymes into some types of plastic, which then 'eat' it when exposed to heat or water, ultimately turning it into something more soil-friendly that doesn't produce microplastics. Solutions for disposal are becoming a priority, especially when it comes to plastic from food packaging (as food safety regulations demand its use in some cases). One day, hopefully, it can all go in the compost bin.

Cup of water in compostable plastic

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