In this day and age of refrigeration, it never ceases to amaze me that we, as a society, still continue to waste food. Certainly this issue is prevalent in some western societies more than others.
Yesterday, I read that over 30% of all household garbage is food waste; peel, plate scraps, rotten food, tea bags, etc. Now remember that this figure does not include food waste from Supermarkets, agriculture and the food industry in general. In landfill these organic scraps become buried under tonnes of other waste and earth in an oxygen deprived environment. As they breakdown they produce methane which is 25 time more potent than CO2 as a Green House Gas. Not to mention the pure arrogance of being able to throw away food when over a billion people across the world don’t know where their next meal is coming from. It makes me feel sick and sad.
So if this issue is so big, what are some of the solutions? Well a few that I can thing of that can help you to divert food waste from landfill are really common sense and easy to implement.
The most obvious is to reduce food waste at the start of the cycle. By this, I mean when you go grocery shopping. Here are a few tips;
- Take a list. By using a list you will most probably only buy the food items you really need, and in compiling the list you would have checked upon your existing stores at home and just be topping up.
- Don’t shop on an empty stomach. From personal experience, you buy more food when you are hungry, and usually it is food that you just don’t need. It is like impulse buying that kicks in due to hunger pains.
- Grow your own food. Plant a vegetable garden and reap the rewards, financially, physically and mentally. It has been proven that people that grow their own waste very little of their own produce. Maybe it is pride, or the thought of all that effort you took from seed to table.
So by limiting food waste at the beginning of the cycle reduces waste overall.
During the storage phase, there are other solutions to minimize waste. Here are some thoughts that might help
- Menu planning. Planning each meal may sound a bit anal, but it help you to utilize the food you have at hand. Each item in your fridge (where most food spoils) will be accounted for and will usually be used before going furry.
- Use the crisper. Your fridge has different compartment for different types of food. The crisper is the best place for fruit and vegetables and usually last at least two weeks longer than in other parts of the fridge.
- Use stuff on hand. Before you go opening another jar of jam, check to see if you have one already open in the fridge. No use breaking the seal to find that you still have one that is three quarters full.
Finally, what to do with leftovers? Leftovers are one of my favourite meals. They can be put into containers and frozen for lunches during the week. They can be used in other meals. Cooked too many vegetables? Try making a bubble and squeak. Too much Christmas Ham? Make a pea and ham soup, or freeze chunks of it for use in a few months time when you crave some hammy goodness. Cooked too much soup? Well freeze it so you can enjoy it later. There are so many things you can do with leftover food.
If worst comes to worst, at least your pets can enjoy a good feed, or maybe even the chooks can have a nosh up if you keep them. Nothing goes to waste around here. If the dogs won’t eat it, the chooks, or worms or compost bins will. The only organic thing we throw into the landfill bin are bones, but only after we have used them to make a stock!
In summary, using some of these methods will help you to reduce your organic waste, and save you a few dollars in the process. Waste not, want not!
Hi Gavin, love your blog (I’m addicted – check it every single day!). Anyway, I just wanted to add to the bit about a crisper, because normally the crisper in my fridge isn’t enough for my family (of only 3!) and really it’s not that good anyway. I use Decor meat containers, with a white webby thing at the bottom, to store my veggies. I can keep asparagus and spring onion for up to 2 weeks in one of those. Furthermore, bananas keep for 1 week in them (without further ripening whilst they are in there). They are absolute gold!
Thanks for sharing yor life with the world, you good fellow!
Tree Huggin Momma says
We can’t use our crisper for mcuh veggies. It freezes lettuce and cukes, but I do keep my cheeses and apples, etc in their. The majority of my veggies don’t get fridged, until after they have been cooked and they usually get frozen for stew.
Love the suggestions and wish more people would do more with reducing waste.
Quick question? Why don’t you bury the bones? I know they take longer to break down, but I have heard that when you start a new garden spot that you should smash up the bones (with a hammer) and bury them?
A small addiction can be a good thing! Anyway, thanks for the daily visit, and sorry for not being present very much this week. Family visits and so much work to do.
The crisper is a bit dubious at times, and some fruit and veg do better in it than others. The best thing to do I suppose is to leave the harvest on the plant until you need it.
@ Tree Huggin Momma
Great idea about the bones, never thought of that one, so will did a hole near the compost bins later on today!
We put our bones in the wood fire and then the ash goes on the garden…..warm ash is lovely for the chooks to dust bathe in on chilly mornings too.
Food waste is a thing I’m constantly guilty of and I loathe it. My family seem to have irregular appetites or something. Some weeks we eat everything and others I seem to be throwing it out (compost whatever I can, of course).
What I need to do is act quickly- decide on the night we have leftovers to freeze them and do it straight away, make a veg soup out of the surplus, etc. My problem is leaving things in the fridge thinking we’ll eat them and we don’t; food gets funky and has to be binned. I’m working on it.