Going Green: Use local ingredients to make a tipple green

Joaquin Phoenix (photo: Getty Images)Joaquin Phoenix (photo: Getty Images)
Joaquin Phoenix (photo: Getty Images)
​I’m trying to cut down alcohol intake and want to start drinking mocktails but I usually drink the local wine and cider, how can I keep my drinks environmentally friendly?

I always encourage people to drink their local tipple.

Not only does it help the environment and reduce food miles, it also supports local businesses which is really important.

It’s admirable you’re trying to reduce your intake at this time of year too as this is normally the time when people throw caution to the wind and think about being good in January.

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Try a mocktail usuing local ingredients (photo: Adobe)Try a mocktail usuing local ingredients (photo: Adobe)
Try a mocktail usuing local ingredients (photo: Adobe)

The good news is there’s a lot of little changes you can make that mean you’ll reduce waste and make the most out of all your ingredients.

Firstly, if you can get your ingredients locally, do.

Think farmers markets and seasonal produce.

Next avoid plastic at all costs.

Try an alternative milk to dairy such as oat milk (photo: Adobe)Try an alternative milk to dairy such as oat milk (photo: Adobe)
Try an alternative milk to dairy such as oat milk (photo: Adobe)

Glass jars are great when they’re recycled as glasses and if you keep the lids, you can shake your cocktail before you drink it and even use them to be portable for parties.

There are paper straws which will biodegrade available in so many shops now as well as bamboo, metal and silicone so there’s really not an excuse for using plastic ones anymore.

Once you’ve got your ingredients, think about how to make the most out of them too.

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If you’re using herbs and don’t use them all, freeze what’s leftover so you can either use it again for a mocktail or add it to another recipe.

Whether you have a garden or not it might be worth thinking about planting your own herbs too, so you have a year round yield.

A window box on a window sill can look really pretty.

If you’re using things like coconut milk, use the rest in a Thai curry or add to a rice pudding for a tropical flavour.

You can also buy frozen to begin with when it comes to fruits that might not be in season as they’ll either blitz down or used whole they’ll keep your mocktail cold.

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If you’re using fruits and juicing them, take the zest off first – it’s a great addition to lots of sweet dishes like custards and you can slice them finely and use them in salad dressings too.

If you’re muddling fruit or herbs and going for your next drink – don’t bin them.

Instead add a bit more and you’ll be decreasing your waste and making the most out of your ingredients.

If you’re making a mocktail that needs to be topped up with fizzy water, consider investing in a fizzy water machine too.

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You can pick them up for around £70 and they’re much better for the environment than a steady stream of heavy bottled sparkling water.

Not only will you be eliminating potential plastic waste, but you will also be making your own fizzy water rather than buying some that may have been transported thousands of miles.

While I know your question was posed with mocktails in mind all these ideas are applicable for cocktails too so get creative and have fun.

​Celebrity spot

Vegan campaigner and award-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix (photo: Getty Images) is a proud Veganuary ambassador.

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The 49 year-old academy award winning actor has said: “If you look at the climate crisis or the violence of our food system and feel helpless, thinking ‘I wish there was something I could do,” – you can.

“Adn that means right now.

“So why don’t you sign up to try to go on a vegan diet this January.”​

Green swap

If you’re thinking of making any resolution this year, why not switch dairy milk for an alternative milk. All non dairy milks use less land, less water and generate less CO2 gases than their dairy counterparts. If you don’t think you could swap it out entirely why not use dairy-free milk for teas and coffees?

Misconceptions over keeping the planet healthy

​We’re not all that far from the end of 2023 and 2024 will soon be looming large upon us. It’s a great time of year to take stock, have a think and decide to make some small changes with the environment in mind.

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There are a few misconceptions when it comes to helping the planet too – that changes could add cost or time to your day but the reality honestly couldn’t be further from the truth.

Switching to renewable energy, ditching the car and switching to public transport, going plant based and saving energy at home all have a huge impact and can be absorbed into a lot of lifestyles without seismic changes, so the good news is that there are plenty of smaller practices we can adopt that’ll help reduce pollution.

Let’s break it down into three areas; transport, home and food and shopping. When it comes to transport, try and have a few car free days a week. Walk to work and school occasionally rather than driving. Use public transport where you can rather than jumping in the car. If you can live car free, great – but not everyone can. If you’re in the market for a new car, electric vehicles are cheaper to run, far better for the environment and you don’t have to pay charges for emission zones in cities either. What’s more, the second hand EV market is booming too.

When it comes to home, insulating it properly will not only mean good news for the planet but great news for your wallet too.

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Insulating your roof saves around £415 a year off typical energy bills in a detached house, or £250 in a semi.

Considering energy bills are going up again by five per cent on average in January, that’s a big saving.

Next, think about heating the human not the home.

Only put heating on in the rooms you’re using and use cosy blankets for warmth when you’re watching TV.

You’ll save money and the Danes have a word “hygge” which describes the quality of cosiness and being comfortable which creates a feeling of wellbeing.

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Think about draft proofing too, insulation tape costs a few pounds but will make a huge difference to how warm your home feels.

Why not make a New Year’s resolution to understand your boiler controls better too?

So many people could use them more efficiently if they understood how they worked.

When it comes to food and shopping, eating less meat, consuming foods in season and opting for pre loved things are all great ways to make choices with the planet in mind.

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It takes on average 66 days to form a habit so three months from now, you could be doing some or all of these small changes as part of your daily routine before Easter.

Fact or fiction

It is sometimes said that more than 60 per cent of the human diet is provided by plants.

This is in fact a fiction.

The truth is that globally, it is a huge 80 per cent of the diet consumed by human beings that comes from plant based sources.

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