How eco are you? First up, Lisa Faulkner

The former Celebrity Masterchef winner who's left acting for a career in cooking tells Deco she does compost her peelings, doesn't go overboard on gadgets and wants to tackle food waste

Lisa Faulkner, now a successful cook and cookery writer, says she tries to minimise food waste by not doing giant supermarket shops, preferring to buy what she needs more on a daily basis. And asked to rate herself on her eco ways, she says modestly she's a 'C+, could do better'. Pictured above: Lisa at a recent cookery demonstration of her latest recipes. She's become brand ambassador for Hotpoint, for which she's produced a series of recipe cards.

Lisa Faulkner says she's definitely a cook and not a chef, and she's the first to admit that she's not re-inventing the cookery wheel with her books and recipes. Rather she wants to share her love of cooking and if that gets more of us putting a bit more time and effort into the food we eat, well, so much the better.

Her 'new' career in cooking came about after her success on the BBC's Celebrity Masterchef five years ago, and she's gone on to write books and more recently has produced a range of recipe cards for Hotpoint after it invited her to become its brand ambassador.

So you might expect her to disclose that her own kitchen is groaning under the weight of high tech gadets... But no, far from it. 'I don't buy many gadgets for cooking actually,' says Faulkner, who has a young daughter. 'My only essentials are my food processor and my kitchen mixer - I use this for cakes and batters.'

She says she recently took part in a cooking event where the only gadget allowed was a wooden spoon, and she got on just fine with it. 'You really don't need all this kitchen equipment that's on the market and you can cook very well with wooden just need to put in a lot of elbow grease.' So her advice would  be to limit yourself to a couple of machines that will make it easier and faster for you to cook fresh food.

Lisa showing her students how to prepare veg
This schoolgirl gets expert help in making blueberry pancakes

So how eco are you when it comes waste?

Anyone involved in the world of food and cooking can't fail to be concerned about the extraordinary levels of food waste in UK and other affluent countries. The food we throw in our normal household bins will end up in landfill, where it contributes to the build-up of methane, a greenhouse gas. 

Faulkner scores highly here, as she has no truck with wasting food and says she tries to generate pretty much none in her home. 'We use everything up. For example, if I roast a chicken I'll make a stock that night to use for a dish in the week. And I incorporate leftovers in the fridge into meals.' She's also moved away from the big weekly shop, preferring to buy what she needs on a daily basis, because, she says, there's always that tendency to over-buy when doing a supermarket shop...and that extra lettuce is all too likely to go soggy in the bottom of the fridge and be destined for the bin.

'And I'm not governed by sell-by dates,' she says. 'Common sense tells you if something's off.. yoghurt is a live culture, so it's not going to stay fresh for weeks, but tins can last for years.' 


High marks here. Faulker composts vegetable peelings and food scraps into a counter-top bin which she puts out for the council's foodwaste recycling collection. But she confesses she doesn't make her own garden compost...yet.


And high marks here too. 'I do a lot of recycling as the council collects glass, tins, paper, cardboard, plastic. I take clothes I no longer wear to my local charity shop, and thinking about shopping generally, I do try not to buy stuff I don't need. The thing about recycling is we do it when it's made easy for us,' says Faulkner.

Cutting energy use?

'I do turn lights off when I leave a room, but I know I could be better at unplugging things...'

Plastic bags?

The now 10 pence charge for plastic bags from shops that's come into effect in England is OK with Faulkner if the stores donate the money raised to charities rather than putting it into their own coffers. 'I do try to re-use plastic bags - but there will be those occasions when you're running late and have to nip to a shop on your way home and you haven't got a bag on you... and it could be frustrating to be charged because despite your best endeavours you've been caught out.'

We all know what the moral of the tale is...always keep a plastic bag scrunched in the bottom of your handbag.

So to sum up, how eco does she feels she is in her life? Faulkner says she does what she can 'but I know know I can try harder. I am interested in doing more environmentally because our beautiful world is not being looked after.