Most people own a fridge, and quite a lot of people own a freezer. Years ago, the CFC gases were removed from freezers, to help repair the hole in the ozone layer. But what can we all do collectively to make our fridges and freezers a little more eco-friendly. Let’s find out! Koolatron Retro Portable Mini Fridge is perfect for smaller kitchens and lower energy bills. As is Aldi Mini Fridge (£80 with a 3-year guarantee).
Fridges first appeared just after the war, we’ve all seen those ’50s housewife’ adverts, so excited to finally store food to keep cold. In fact, fridges are very energy-intensive today, costing around 10% of the average electricity bill. An efficient fridge maintains food a few degrees above the freezing point of water, and fridges should not be placed right by a wall or source of heat, as it can cause the coils to overheat. You should also cool warm food first, before putting it in the fridge. Freezers obviously store food at much lower temperatures, and are useful to store a glut of leftover fruits and vegetables, and many use them to store ready-meals, in case of the need for fast food.
If you are in the market for one, a new fridge/freezer may save you money, as newer versions cost a quarter of the amount to run than older versions. The general idea is that if your fridge/freezer is over 10 years old, you may save more money in buying a new one that carries the Energy Saving Trust recommended logo. Frost-free freezers are popular, but do use a little big more energy (for businesses, chest freezers tend to let less cold air escape when the lids are opened, so tend to run at lower costs).
Depending on whether you sleep near a fridge/freezer (smaller properties and bedsits), you may wish to invest in a fridge/freezer carrying the Quiet Mark. This means there is less chance of a constant whirr all day and night, which can drive some people insane. Most people cannot afford the designer fridge/freezers with ice-makers in the door. But most new fridge/freezers are pretty quiet and energy-efficient (and most towns have furniture reuse warehouses, where donated white goods are tested for safety, and sold at low cost to people on low incomes).
Most stores that sell new appliances will collect/recycle old ones, or contact your local council. Emmaus accept s white goods that are PAT tested, then sold on to give jobs and income to homeless people. Scrap My Appliance offers a service for business,
Tips for a Greener Fridge/Freezer
- Go for a larger fridge than freezer, if you eate a lot of fresh food. Although they cost a little more to run, a frost-free model is good to avoid the arduous task of having to defrost every so often.
- Keep the top of the fridge/freezer free from clutter, as heat can be released out of the top (piling stuff on top will make the motor less efficient). Maintain the correct temperature, according to your manual.
- Try to keep your fridge/freezer fairly full to keep the air cool, but don’t over-fill as this can block air vents. Try to place it away from ovens, dishwashers or sunny windows.
- Keep the drain channel hole free from food and dirt.
- For your fridge, store fresh foods in the bottom salad drawer and (if you eat fresh meat, keep this on the bottom shelf, to avoid juices dripping down – cantaloupe melon can carry listeria, and should also be stored away from other foods). Store dairy products if used on the middle shelves, and ready-made food on the top shelf, leaving the door for juices and milks.
- Store frozen fruits, meals and ice-cream on the top shelf, soups/potatoes in the middle, and animal products (if eaten) on the bottom shelf.
Look in stores for sheets that help reduce ethylene gas, which helps fresh food to last longer. FRESHPAPER is the main brand but it’s American, so you may not be able to find it in shops here. These paper sheets are impregnated with a blend of organic essential oils to make food last 2 to 4 times longer. After use, you can just recycle or compost them. One sheet lasts around 4 weeks (when the maple scent starts to fade). Wholesalers can contact them to sell in shops, or you can order online with worldwide delivery.
Switch to Reusable Silicone Freezer Bags
This Mini Silicone Bundle is good to store leftovers, or carry snacks. Includes 2 different-sized pouches and 6 stretch lids. Made from food-grade silicone, one bag can replace over 3000 single-use plastic bags in its lifetime. Silicone is not quite perfect (it is a mix of sand and oil), but it does not break down into millions of microplastics like conventional plastic, and is far stronger and tougher, and councils increasingly are able to recycle it at end of use. In simple terms, it’s ‘the next best thing to plastic’.They are lightweight and can be folded up, and unlike plastic tupperware or glass jars, take up far less room. Use them to freeze berries, peppers and bananas (ideal sliced to thicken up smoothies) or meal leftovers.
How to Clean Your Fridge/Freezer (naturally)
Try to do this when you have little food in the appliances, and keep them in a cool place while you clean the fridge and freezer. Turn off the fridge until it’s at room temperature and remember where the shelves go, before you remove them. Then remove all glass and other items and wash and rinse and leave to dry. Usually all you need is some warm water and biodegradable dish soap, baking soda and a compostable cloth. Avoid essential oils for homes with pets, babies or pregnant/nursing women. Keeping an open bowl of baking soda or half-cut lemons in the fridge can help to naturally absorb odours too (again keep citrus fruits away from pets)..