Statistics tell us we throw away far too much food. Are you ready? Up to 50% of our regular garbage waste is food waste, which costs the average household over $1000 per year. This waste is headed to landfill where it releases methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than CO2!! National Recycling Week is the perfect time to take stock of our patterns of food purchase and use. With this in mind, I’d like to share some of my tried and true strategies for reducing kitchen waste.
1. Plan your meals
My favourite strategy is menu planning. As I have said before, this one simple act of planning out meals and shopping accordingly has been magic for me — less food waste, less packaging waste, less stress, less money. Easy and effective!
2. Store food correctly
Next — and equally simple — is actually storing food correctly. Before I got my act together, I would just dump my market veggie haul straight into the crisper and, lo and behold, within days my leaves were slimy and my raspberries were mouldy. Now, I take care to store different fruit and veggies in the right way, which extends their life significantly, giving me more chance to eat them.
3. Get creative with food scraps
While I’ve reduced avoidable food wastage with meal planning and better food storage, there is some food waste that is harder to avoid — things like food scraps, for example. I have strategies for those as well. I use as many veggie offcuts as possible in other recipes: stock, pasta sauces, soups, etc; I do a regular ‘kitchen sink’ meal, using up all the veggies, grains and leftovers, that are hanging around; I gather old(ish) veggies for pickling and fermenting and I store up citrus peels to make a brilliant household cleaner.
These all work well for small amounts of leftovers or scraps, but if you find yourself with just too much of a food item, you might consider giving it away. Apps like Olio or your local pay-it-forward group are great options for avoiding wasted food and they also nurture community spirit so it’s a win-win.
5. Compost at home or in your community
The last option for food waste is composting and your local council is a great resource here. Many councils have partnered with various businesses, like Compost Revolution, or have programs themselves, to make it as easy and accessible as possible. If composting yourself isn’t feasible, check out ShareWaste, a website and app via which you can connect with your neighbours and use their compost or worm farm.
6. Be mindful about packaging
Dealing with packaging waste has also never been easier, whether it is avoiding it completely by opting for reusables — l never leave home without my stash: coffee cup, water bottle, steel straw and spork, tote bag, fruit and veg sacks, etc. — bottle recycling through Container Deposit Schemes, or by relying on the fab new Australasian Recycling Label to correctly recycle food packaging and avoid it going unnecessarily to landfill.
Through all of these strategies, my garbage bin has never been lighter, which means my conscience is lighter too. I hope you’ll use National Recycling Week to take stock as well — the NRW website is jam-packed with information, ideas and events to help you get involved.
Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.