Gizzi Erskine’s green dilemmas: ‘I can’t pull the plug on my baths’

Green dilemmas: Britain’s sexiest celebrity cook is waging a personal war on kitchen waste, but she can’t – won’t – give up her long, hot soaks.

green dilemmas
Gizzi’s green dilemmas: ‘My long, hot baths are definitely my weakest point.’

When did the need to be green first hit you? I come from quite a green family, so I don’t remember a time when we didn’t try not to waste energy, water or food.

Who is your green hero? Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is amazing. He encourages people to grow their own food and even though I don’t have green fingers at all I keep trying. I’m hopeless. My earliest memories is of mum in her vegetable garden.

Organic or locally produced food? For a cook it’s all about flavour, and I will go for locally-produced rather than organic, if I can’t have both. Organic can also become very expensive for families, so I prefer buying local, seasonal food at farmers’ markets. There’s nothing like the first asparagus of the year in spring.

Which activity gives you the warmest doing-my-bit glow? My anti-food wasting campaign. The amount of food we throw away is outrageous, and is a bigger contributor to climate change than the packaging we throw away. People really need to know how to make much more of their leftovers. For example, how to make a Sunday roast last a couple of meals, by making soups, or risottos, for Monday. We also need to be much more aware of when food has really gone off. We rely too much on the supermarkets’ “best before” dates. If veg looks a bit wibbly, put them in iced water to revitalise them. And as a last resort if its really off, compost it.

Which “crime” would you hide from the eco-police? My long, hot baths are definitely my weakest point. I can’t give them up, but I do have fewer now than I used to and have showers instead.

How do you offset your carbon footprint? I try to do everything I reasonably can. I wear jumpers and use hot water bottles instead of putting on the heating. I recycle, which is made easier because there are council bins just across the road.

What’s in your recycling sack in a typical week? The usual stuff: bottles, tins, newspapers. What energy-saving devices have you installed at home? I have energy-saving light bulbs, double glazing and insulation.

Do you harangue your friends on their lifestyle choices? When it comes to food, definitely. I want to throttle people who I see eating New Zealand apples in the autumn when there are delicious English fruit around. I also rant about factory-farmed food and how they should avoid it.

If you were prime minister for a day, which reforms would you introduce? I would introduce the systems I saw in Germany recently. They have domestic bins which are separated into composting and recycling sections, so it makes it really easy. You can’t buy plastic bags in supermarkets you have to bring your own boxes. I would also start a food wastage education programme.

Mile-high club or sleeper train? Sleeper train – I hate flying.

Have you ever signed an eco-petition or occupied a tree? No.

Rubber gloves or dishwasher? Manual every time. I did buy a small dishwasher because everyone told me it would change my life. But I have never used it.


Interview by Alison Shepherd

Gizzi is the ‘face’ of the National Trust’s ‘Food Glorious Food’ campaign to inspire children to grow their own fruit and veg.

• Originally published in GreenerLiving magazine in August 2009



Peter a journalist with 30 years experience of freelance writing, UK national newspaper and magazine production roles, and business development. In 2007, he developed and launched a mainstream-style green consumer magazine in the UK, called GreenerLiving, as a means of promoting sustainable change ‘within the system’. GreenerLiving closed during the post-crash recession, but Peter went on to become managing editor of the international ethical business title, Ethical Performance. However, Peter felt that the CSR sector has not succeeded in changing corporate priorities anywhere near fast enough, and so I decided to leave the treadmill of corporate employment and debt accumulation to focus on my own projects. Now poorer but a billion million times happier, he writes on political, economic and social issues – usually seriously, but sometimes as satire. He's currently writing Psychopath Economics, a book about the logic of social and economic power, belief systems, and the rise and fall of societies. Peter is convinced that ordinary people must educate themselves and exercise their economic leverage if we are to avoid social and environmental destruction.

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