In the Know: The Frantic Foodie’s Guide to Sustainability


"just one look at McDonald’s recent plastic-to-paper straw fiasco proves that good intentions can come a cropper."

Less plastic! Zero waste! We have the best of intentions when it comes to living more sustainably but sometimes life, laziness or an overwhelming number of options gets in the way.  

Inspired by a gathering of some of the food and hospitality industry’s most respected women – Melissa Hemsley, Skye Gyngell, Grace Dent, Anita Rani and Jules Pearson – for The Sustainability Sessions: The State of Your Plate at Ennismore Sessions House last week, we’ve compiled a quick, easy guide to the waste warriors who get the thumbs-up from some of the best in the business.  


Great Plates  

More than 90% of consumers expect operators to act sustainably, but just one look at McDonald’s recent plastic-to-paper straw fiasco proves that good intentions can come a cropper. So which places are doing things properly? 


London on the Inside’s Jules Pearson can’t speak highly enough of this zero-waste restaurant that has just opened in Hackney alongside Crate Brewery.  Plates formed from plastic bags, crockery from crushed wine bottles and even its own flour mill, Silo’s chef and owner Joost Bakker takes sustainability seriously and it has never tasted so good.  


The lady who warmed our hearts when she declared ‘veganism is not the answer!’, celebrated chef Skye Gyngell has ditched all single-use plastics at her restaurant Spring (including a momentous crackdown on the 800km of cling film they were using each year).  But what we really love is the daily Scratch Menu. Served from 5.30pm-6.30pm the dishes are created using ‘waste’ produce. Beetroot tops and potato skins turned into simple soups. Trimmings from house-made pasta baked with leftover cheese, or yesterday’s bread transformed into warm bread pudding served with a spoonful of last year’s Fern Verrow gooseberry jam. The price reflects the produce (£20 for three courses) so it’s also a great way to experience Spring at a lower price point and enjoy a top quality and interesting pre-theatre feed.  

The Small Holding 

This gem, nestled in the Kentish countryside, was top of restaurant critic Grace Dent’s recommendation list.  The kitchen, led by award-winning chef Will Devlin, harnesses the fresh ingredients grown (or reared) in the farm on site in Kilndown, along with foraged bounty. Super seasonal, loyally local, and fiercely fresh.     


Shop Smart 

While the supermarkets are making promises to minimise pointless plastic packaging, smaller, independent, more nimble shops are just getting on and eradicating it altogether.    

Hero Market 

We already love Crystal Palace as a destination for independent shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants and now they’ve got their own plastic free grocery store, we heart it even more.  As well as cutting down on pointless plastics and single use packaging, zero waste shopping from the likes of Hero Market can help combat food waste as its very nature encourages us to only buy what we need plus helps us choose healthier ingredients. Follow them on Insta to be the first to know when they have new stock arriving.  

Plastic Freedom 

Time-poor Londoners, or those still waiting on great local options, can get online with plastic-free, vegan online shop, Plastic Freedom. Home, beauty, travel, food, clothing, even pets – all life’s categories are covered. Plus, for every order, one tree is planted in the Amazon Rainforest offsetting the usual guilt of an online splurge. Winning.   


This website (pronounced “Use Less”) is London’s first digital directory dedicated to showcasing the capital’s zero-waste shops.  As well as the interactive map to point you to your nearest zero waste shops, the site also offers a ‘survival kit’ of ethical products you can buy to help lessen your impact on the environment such as bamboo toothbrushes and cling film alternatives.   


There’s an app for that 

Yes, there’s an app for everything, but some are definitely worth the download. Who better to tell us her top three sustainable selection than Jules from our city’s food and trends bible London On The Inside?  


Who doesn’t hate throwing away good food? But with so many of us living alone or with busy last-minute life plans, that stocked fridge can soon go to waste. Olio connects neighbours so you can share food, rather than chuck it away. Just snap a photo, set the pick-up location, get notified when you get a request, and boom - you’ve reduced your waste and given a neighbour a free feed.  

Too Good To Go 

Join the world’s largest community of waste warriors. These guys bag up all the delicious, perfectly edible food that stores and restaurants have to throw out at the end of the day and sell it onto app users at a discounted price. To date, the app’s 1.4 million users have ‘saved’ 20,672,736 meals from going in the bin which equates to 52,477 tonnes of C02.  

Dabba Drop 

Love a takeaway but get post-gorging guilt when you see all the plastic tubs piled up by the bin? Switch to Dabba Drop. Currently delivering to Hackney, Leyton and Walthamstow, these fresh cooked curries get delivered to your door in re-useable stainless steel tiffin boxes which you swap each time you get a delivery.  Set up a subscription for one or two dabba drops per month and consider your Friday night takeaway plans sorted. They also keep for up to four days in the fridge! 


There are still tickets available for other informative and engaging Sustainability Sessions. Check out the future line-ups here 




Rosie Carr