keep fruits and veggies fresher for longer

How to… Keep Your Fruits and Veggies Fresher For Longer

You’ve brought home a batch of fresh fruits and veggies, put them in the fridge and gone about your life. But a few days later, everything is shrivelled, rotten or limp. What happened? Much of the time, it’s the way you’re storing them. Packing a fridge is an art, but one that can easily be mastered! To help you hit your five a day, here are some tips on how to keep your fruits and veggies fresher for longer. 

See also: Join Our 8-week Challenge: 8 Ways to Reduce Food Waste


1.

Give Your Produce Some Space

We all enjoy our personal space, and the same goes for our fruits and veggies. Try not to cram your fridge: with air circulating around the produce, moisture evaporates and mold is curbed. By not packing your fridge choc-full, you’ll also be able to see and use what’s in it, helping you avoid food waste!


2.

Watch out for Gassy Produce

Some fruits and vegetables – like apples, bananas, pears and potatoes – produce a gas called ethylene that accelerates the ripening process of other produce. Assuming you don’t want your apples rotting in a few days, keep everything as separate as you can! You should also avoid putting fruit and vegetables in the same fridge drawer, or next to one another on the countertop. 


3.

Freeze it

Freezing food is one of the best ways to preserve it. But instead of throwing whole apples and bananas into the freezer, let fruit reach the desired stage of ripeness first, then peel and cut into pieces and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet tray until solid. You can store the pieces in a resealable plastic bag or freezer-safe container for up to three months! For vegetables, chop and blanch before freezing. 

keeping fruits and vegetables fresher for longer
Source: Pixabay

4.

Use containers and the crisper

Generally, the top part of your fridge is prone to temperature swings. Keep your most delicate produce (like herbs and lettuce) in the middle of the fridge. Most vegetables belong in their own container, or the crisper in the fridge.


5.

Keep them out of the sun

When leaving fruits and veggies out to ripen, protect them from direct sunlight so as not to have them ripen too quickly – or worse, rot. Tomatoes, for instance, can ripen in a cool spot in your kitchen, while the same goes for yams and potatoes.


6.

Rinse and wrap leafy greens

To extend the life of leafy greens including lettuce, bok choy, kale and spinach, rinse and wrap them in a tea towel before putting in a separate container – like a Stasher bag. This will keep them fresher, not to mention way more convenient when you’re ready to use them.

Source: Unsplash

7.

Keep Produce Dry

With some exceptions such as leafy greens, try not to wash produce until you’re ready to use it. While a little humidity is good for produce, wetness can encourage bacteria growth, thereby spoiling your fruits and veggies quicker. 

Even when washed, make sure that you thoroughly dry the fruit and/or vegetable before putting it away. There are some exceptions to this: storing whole carrots in a covered container of water will keep them firm; the same goes for celery. Mushrooms should be kept dry and in a paper bag.


8.

Shop smart

The best way to keep your fruits and veggies fresher for longer? Simply do not buy too much of it at once. With so many fresh produce markets in Hong Kong, buy only what you need instead of packing your fridge to the max and letting your produce go to waste.


It’s that simple! Follow these eight tips to save your fruits and veggies from going rotten before you actually get to enjoy them. Food waste is a massive problem around the world and being more mindful of how you handle your produce will certainly help ease the problem! 

See also: 8-week Challenge: 8 Ways to Reduce Food Waste

how to join plastic-free july

Plastic-Free July: 8 Ways To Take Part

Each year, Plastic-Free July empowers people to be a part of the solution to plastic pollution by eliminating single-use plastic from their daily lives. 

Why July, though? During the summer months when we’re typically enjoying our days outdoors, relaxing at the beach or taking a dip in the ocean, our appreciation of nature is at its peak. What better time to highlight the ever-increasing build-up of plastic waste? Here are 8 ways that you can participate in Plastic-Free July right here in Hong Kong: 


1.

JOIN THE 8SHADES 8 WEEK CHALLENGE

The 8Shades 8 week challenge is our very own way of getting people to take small, actionable steps towards a greener and more sustainable future. With weekly challenges and prizes from now till mid-August 2021, there are still loads of brilliant prizes to be won so be sure to sign up now – and challenge your friends to enter too!

Sign up here


2.

DITCH PLASTIC PACKAGING

Did you know that nearly 50% of all plastic waste generated is from plastic packaging – most of it unnecessary? Hong Kong grocery stores are notorious for excessive plastic packaging. The solution? Instead of buying bags of prepackaged apples, for example, buy them loose at your local market.


3.

GO REUSABLE

Replacing plastic utensils with wooden ones that you carry around with you and using reusable coffee cups and metal or silicone containers for lunches, storage and shopping are just some swaps you can make to up your reusable game. 

plastic-free july

4.

REMEMBER THE TOP 4

Avoid the “Top 4” single-use plastics: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws. Replace them with reusables: shopping bags made of natural fibres, metal or glass water bottles and a ceramic mug or metal thermos. And never, never take a plastic straw.


5.

EAT OUT LESS

Instead of ordering in for lunch, bring food from home. Plastic takeaway containers often aren’t recycled and end up in landfills, where they take hundreds of years to decompose. Cooking your food cuts down on this waste, and you’ll also save money and improve your cooking skills. You don’t need to cook for hours every day to eat well; just stick with simple, healthy food done well.

plastic-free july

6.

MAKE HOME SWAPS

Go through your home, room by room, seeing if there are any eco-friendly swaps you can make. For example, buy cleaning products in boxes, not bottles; and buy your pantry essentials in bulk.

See also: You don’t need to wash your clothes everyday


7.

DO A WARDROBE AUDIT

About 60% of material made into clothing is plastic, which includes polyester, acrylic and nylon. These fabrics are durable and affordable, but every time they’re washed, they shed microplastics.

We could all be more mindful of the clothing we wear, by considering the materials our clothes are made from, buying from second hand shops, repairing your clothes when they break instead of replacing them or simply buying less. You could also use a guppy bag for those fabrics that are synthetic.


8.

DO YOUR BEST

Don’t beat yourself up if you fall short – it’s called a challenge for a reason! Try out different things and stick to what works for you. 

Join us this Plastic Free July by making small but important changes in your everyday life. The more you practice these behaviours, the easier it will become to implement them into your life beyond July.


See also: Join The 8Shades 8-Week Challenge!

sustainable boat trip

How to… have a sustainable boat trip

Undoubtedly one of the best parts of summer in Hong Kong are boat parties; swimming and feasting on your favourite foods and drinks with friends and family is a perfect day out. However, boating isn’t exactly an eco-friendly activity. Boats interfere with animals’ mating patterns and even worse, chemicals from boats leech into the water, killing animals and bleaching coral reefs. To be more kind to Mother Earth this summer, here are some tips to make your next boat trip in Hong Kong a more eco-friendly and sustainable one. 


1.

Find an eco-friendly boating company

Choose a boat organiser that aims to leave the ocean in the same condition after a trip as before. Here are our favourites:

LazyDays

Touted as the “no junk junk,” LazyDays has been working to minimise waste on their fleets. They have installed water filter machines to prevent single-use plastics and they also provide reusable straws and drinkware and bamboo cutlery. 

Hong Kong Yachting

Hong Kong Yachting has eliminated single-use plastic bottles, cutlery, glasses and plates and has even managed to reduce garbage output from 8 bags per trip to 1! 


2.

Bring fresh food aboard

We get it- boating trips should be an excuse to treat yourself with sweets, chips, etc. However, these packets often end up in the ocean, endangering marine life. Bring your own fresh food, preferably food that is loose, rather than packaged. Or, move to Tip 3!


3.

Choose a zero-waste caterer

Choose catered plant-based goodies, which have a lower carbon footprint. Fruit and veggies also help keep you hydrated, a must for an all-day boating trip in the sun! Our favourites are:

MANA!

MANA!’s junk catering menu lets you choose from such treats as wholemeal wraps, salad bar options and desserts like raw truffle bites. The food is delivered in biodegradable paper packaging, so you’re not creating any unnecessary waste!

sustainable boat trip
Source: MANA

Knead HK

Knead’s fresh made-to-order sandwiches and salads are bound to be a hit on your next boating trip. Check out their junk menu for their customisable packages. 

sustainable boat trip
Source: Knead

4.

Create your own “eco kit”

Before getting on the boat, prepare an “eco kit” to make your trip as eco-friendly as possible. This could include a reusable water bottle, reusable straws, metal/ bamboo cutlery and reef-safe sunscreen. Of course, put it all in a reusable tote bag. 

Tip: To make sure your sunscreen is “reef safe,” avoid toxic ingredients like Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Octocrylene, Homosalate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, Parabens, Triclosan and any form of microplastic, such as “exfoliating beads.” Check our guide for the best reef-safe sunscreens. 

Have fun on your boat trip this summer while being eco-friendly and sustainable- you’ll leave the ocean safe and clean for the next group! 

grow herb garden

How to… Grow your own herb garden

Indoor gardens are not ideal, but living in space-starved places like Hong Kong calls for some creativity! Growing your own food is empowering, you remove a bit of your dependency on grocery stores while enjoying a fresh, pesticide-free harvest. For families, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to teach kids how to grow their own plants. Here’s our guide on how to grow your own herb garden. 


CREATE YOUR INDOOR OASIS

WINDOW SILL

If you’ve got a kitchen window, you’ve got a potential garden. Putting your herb box in the kitchen will also make harvesting and cooking with your herbs quicker. Just make sure that the box is in a window that receives enough sunlight!

HERB WALL

You can use a pallet and set it up on top of a kitchen counter or on a balcony/ patio without using a lot of surface area. Doubling as a decoration tool, a herb wall adds a rustic touch to your space. 

grow herb garden
Source: Bobby Berk

A HANGING PLANTER

No floor space? Look to the skies! Check out this planter that can be mounted from the ceiling or on the wall. 

grow herb garden
Source: Homeless

WHAT HERBS SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Most herbs can easily be planted in small spaces, but when choosing your herbs, think about the ones you use the most- do you cook with thyme or basil a lot, or do you dream of homemade mojitos with freshly grown mint? Here are some herbs that work well in beginner gardens:

BASIL

Basil is easy to grow and provides a strong pleasant aroma, and doesn’t need a super warm atmosphere or wet soil. 

CHIVES

Chives can grow in a variety of temperatures, even cold winters. They can grow with little sunlight, but they tend to require more frequent watering. 

THYME

Thyme works well with other plants in the same pot, requiring less frequent watering. However, you should grow it from a plant rather than a seed. 

MINT

Mint is one of the best herbs to use in herb gardens because it grows so easily, but it needs to be watered frequently. Beware: mint grows and spreads quickly!

grow herb garden
Source: Michelin Guide

TIPS FOR MAINTAINING YOUR HERB GARDEN

  • Light is key! An east- or south-facing window is best, but if this isn’t possible, position containers directly underneath windows. Move them around as the light shifts. 
  • Use a container with good drainage; choose pots with drains and saucers. 
  • To know when to water your herbs, place your finger into the soil- if it’s dry, add water. Don’t overwater- most plants die because of too much attention, not a lack thereof!
  • Your herbs are ready to be harvested when they’ve developed at least 3 sets of true leaves. Never harvest more than one third of the plant at once and take the largest leaves from the top first! 

A container, some sunlight and effort is all you need to grow your own herb garden. Sounds like a great time (or should we say thyme? No?). 

How To… Create Your Eco Outdoor Oasis

Summer has arrived! For those of us who have access to a balcony, rooftop, or garden, it’s time to spruce up our outdoor spaces with eco-friendly furniture. If you’re a morning person, a few staple pieces can transform your outdoor space to a personal sanctuary where you can enjoy your morning (sustainably sourced) coffee, meditate, journal and set your intentions for the day ahead.

If you work from home and get fatigued from looking at your computer screen all day, what’s a better way to take a break by stepping outside and laying on your hammock for fifteen minutes. You can also get your daily dose of vitamin D (be sure to wear reef-safe sunscreen) while you’re at it! If you’re a social butterfly, outdoor furniture can help you create a relaxing social hub where your friends and family can gather on a warm summer’s day to kickback with some Corona (the beers of course) and lime, and enjoy the sun set against Hong Kong’s stunning skyline.  


Our Top 8 Picks

1.

Check out Yellow Leaf Hammocks, whose eco-friendly hammocks are guaranteed to elevate your relaxation. If the Shark Tank judges love these hammocks, so will you! Not only does the company ship to Hong Kong, they are firmly committed to sustainability and making a positive impact: Yellow Leaf has created numerous jobs for mothers in Thailand, empowering these women and their families to break out of the cycle of extreme poverty. 

2.

Take a look at Hong-Kong based TREE for timeless, sturdy and sustainably sourced eco-wood furniture that will suit every outdoor space, style, and need. We love that TREE further supports the environment by partnering with Trees4Trees, and has planted over 77,800 new trees to date!

3.

Visit Hong Kong based Green Dot Home, whose mission is to renew and upcycle sued furniture and homeware. The company also runs a furniture donation program and makes regular furniture donations to less privileged families.

4.

Check out Jaxx Bean Bags, which has repurposed over 1 million pounds of foam trim to create upcycled micro-cushions used as cushy fill for their outdoor bean bags lounge chairs. The company also packages their bean bags using a game-changing vacuum compression process that removes 90% of the air from the Bean Bags. 

Shop Jaxx Bean Bags at Inmod, which ships to Hong Kong.

5.

Find chic and colorful outdoor chairs and tables at Bend Goods, whose collection is made from recyclable iron, and is packaged in a way to minimize the company’s carbon footprint/  

Shop Bend Goods outdoor collection at Abc Home, which ships to Hong Kong. 

6.

Shop for bistro chairs, outdoor tables and beanbags, garden parasols, outdoor lights and carpets at Fatboy’s products, which is committed to using fabrics that are Oeko-tex certified (meaning that their textiles, from yarns to the finished product, are made under sustainable conditions and have been tested for harmful substances), and using recycled materials as much as possible. 

Shop Fatboy’s outdoor furniture collection at Inmod, which ships to Hong Kong. 

7.

Shop Zuo Modern’s aesthetically pleasing outdoor collection of chairs and tables, all made entirely of organic, sustainable and water-resistant materials.

Shop Zuo Modern’s outdoor collection at Inmod, which ships to Hong Kong.

8.

Keep your eyes peeled on Yardbird. The founders, an American couple who moved to Hong Kong in 2014, spent their weekends exploring beaches off the South China and found the water and shores littered with waste. This inspired the couple to spend up to three years collecting plastic on beaches across Southeast Asia. Yardbird’s high quality outdoor furniture–– including dining sets and outdoor ottomans–– is made entirely from recycled ocean plastic. Even better, Yardbird’s furniture is 100% recyclable. Although the company currently doesn’t ship to Hong Kong, there are plans for the founders to return to their roots and do so in the near future.