One of the best things you can do for the environment is to try and avoid food waste. An amazing way to do this is to compost your veggie scraps, coffee grounds and eggshells. But could you be getting more mileage from food you've already prepared? There are actually many ways to reduce food waste even before relegating table scraps to the compost.
Save and eat leftovers within the next few days
The most obvious, and one of the best ways to avoid food waste, is to eat your leftovers! Growing up, I thought everyone ate their leftovers because that’s what my family did. But I’ve learned that some people don’t think their food will last long enough or be "fresh enough" to eat at a later date. Usually, you can safely eat leftovers within a few days of making or buying your meals.
Tip: As you dish up dinner, immediately plate one or two extra servings into lunch containers. If leftovers don't look like leftovers but tasty takeout instead, you might be more inclined to "brown bag" them to the office.
Make a vegetable broth from scraps
This is one of my favourite things to do with vegetable scraps. Not only is it good for the environment, it’s also super healthy. Plus, it means you won’t waste money buying veggie broth at the grocery store.
Make a vegetable broth from scraps: Anytime you cook with veggies, toss onion peels, garlic skins, carrot peels, potato skins, broccoli stems and other "inedible" scraps into a large Tupperware in the freezer. Once full, cook the scraps on a high setting in a slow cooker or large saucepot, adding water and seasoning with spices as needed. When it’s done, strain the veggie scraps out of the mixture and store the liquid broth in your fridge or freezer. Use it as a base to make soups or in lieu of water for some recipes—like quinoa, barley or rice.
Make a bone broth from protein scraps
If you eat meat, save the bones in the same way that you would save the veggies to make veggie broth: In a large Tupperware in the freezer. Once full, put all the bones into the slow cooker, Instant Pot or in a large pot on the stove. Add water and cook until boiling. Strain the bones and store the bone broth in the fridge or freezer to be used in soups.
Bake sweet apple or savoury potato snacks
Save potato or apple peels and roast them in the oven to make a light snack. For potato peels, I recommend adding salt, pepper and maybe some garlic so they taste kind of like flavoured chips. For apple peels, sprinkle a bit of sugar and cinnamon to make a sweet treat.
Regrow produce scraps
Instead of simply composting veggie scraps, why don’t you try regrowing them? This is especially easy to do with produce like green onions, peppers, tomatoes, celery and more. Basically any veggie or fruit that has seeds or is a root vegetable can be replanted quite easily in your home garden or patio planters. Many herbs can also be regrown in your kitchen.
Use coffee grounds and oil to make a DIY exfoliating scrub
Jeremy YapWe all know foods nourish us from the inside, but they can benefit our bodies from the outside, too.
Once you’ve made a pot of coffee, let the coffee grounds cool and then add to a small bowl. Next, mix in some oil. I like to use melted coconut or avocado oil because they’re good for the skin. Blend the two ingredients until a chunky paste is formed. Store in an air-tight container until you're ready to use. In the shower, scrub your face and body for an invigorating, exfoliating glow.
Save citrus peels to make a homemade cleaning disinfectant
I love saving orange, lemon and lime peels to DIY my own household cleaners. It's simple to make:
1. Collect the citrus peels in a jar and fill with white vinegar
2. Let the mixture to sit for 24 hours
3. Remove the peels with a slotted spoon, saving the liquid.
4. Fill a glass spray bottle half-way full with the citrus vinegar. Fill the rest of the bottle with water.
That’s right! You can clean your house with something as simple as vinegar. Feel free to add essential oils such as cinnamon or lavender; 10-12 drops per 500 ml will do.
Special note: Vinegar-based cleaning solutions should not be used to disinfect or clean natural stone countertops or on tile with exposed grout.
Hopefully this article has filled you with plenty of ideas on how to reduce food waste—even before you get to composting. Remember, if you don’t have another option, composting is great for the environment too because it helps transform veggie scraps into fertile soil to grow new plants in the future. If you throw your food waste directly into the garbage, it can actually leach methane gases into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.
P.S. Ever consider your laundry waste?
Did you know that annually more than 750 million plastic laundry jugs end up in our landfills? Tru Earth has the solution.