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Waste Not!!

I have reduced my trash generation to one bag a week and often it isn't full. That is because I am truly making an effort to minimize the amount of food I throw in the trash once purchased. I use all parts of fruits and vegetables that are edible. I don't eat red meat and I usually buy boneless, skinless poultry so I waste nothing. If I do get poultry with bones, I make stock from the bones.

I think the best approach for eliminating kitchen waste is not to create it - I plan my food for the week, make a list and stick to that list. It saves money and waste. I am not the kind of person who can plan on Sunday night for a Thursday meal but I can plan for the whole week and mix and match what I bought with how I am feeling on any given day. The more generic and simple my choices, the better. I also don't peel any of my fruits or veggies and I eat the ends of most veggies. I use every scrap I can.

When I have to discard kitchen waste, I compost produce and if absolutely necessary use the second best solution, my garbage disposal. I collect compostible scraps and store them in the freezer until I have enough. Then I take them to a community compost site where they have chickens who eat everything. Chickens and other animals like pigs love to eat what we consider inedible. The rest decomposes in the compost pile. I would love to have my own compost bin but I live in a community that doesn't allow it. If you can build or buy a compost bin, that is ideal. You can also create a worm box (sounds yucky but it's really not!) See attachments for instructions and tips. It does not have to be costly or time-consuming. Keep in mind that you cannot put animal products (such as poulty or meat bones or fat) other than manure in compost piles or bins. Here are some ideas if you can't have a compost pile:

  1. Most communities have a composting facility that is open to the public. Seek them out. Mine is a school within 2 miles of my home.

  2. If you know people who have a compost pile or bin, ask if you can use it.

  3. Take scraps to your farmers market - almost all farmers markets will accept compostable food waste.

  4. Get backyard chickens:).

  5. Feed whatever you can to your animals.

Did you know the following? I didn't. (Gunders, Dana, Waste Free Kitchen, 2015.)

  • Celery, green onions, and bok choy can regrow from scraps. For green onions just plant the white bulb directly in soil and place in a warm sunny spot. For the celery and bok choy, cut off the bottom, place in a bowl cut side up and add only enough water to reach the bottom of the plant. Place in a sunny spot. When roots form, plant in soil, either in a pot in a sunny location or in your garden.

  • Citrus seeds and avocado pits will grow plants. They may not produce fruit where you live but they make nice house plants and plants are makers of happiness. They help clean the air and are soothing. Include your kids and they can watch them grow.

  • The same is the case for your pineapple heads. Take off the crown and clean away all of the remaining fruit. Remove a few of the bottom leaves and place in a shallow jar with enough water to cover the bottom. When roots appear in 2-3 weeks, plant in your garden or in a pot placed in a warm sunny location. It makes a lovely house plant.

  • Save seeds from any fruit or veggie that has them, clean and dry them, and try planting them to see if you can get them to grow. FUN! Experiment! Try planting some now and saving some for next season. Save in a cool dark location.

  • Use banana peels to polish your shoes and citrus to polish metal.

  • Most old food is not bad, even as it discolors or has bad spots. It will not make you sick. Usually toxins that cause problems come from contaminated produce at it's source which we often see as recalls on the news. Cut off the bad parts and enjoy the rest. The exception is green potatoes, rancid oil, meats, and nuts. These should be discarded.

  • Use your leftovers or items you need to get rid of. One thing I do is throw everything I have in the frig that I want to use up into a big stir fry, stew pot, or salad. I used to question these odd combinations but it almost always it turns out great and something new and different. Adding spices and herbs makes a huge difference as well.

  • Buy produce that you can use in multiple ways or in more than one meal.

  • Buy slightly bruised, misshapen or day old produce. These items are rarely selected and often discarded by sellers. If you do this, one less apple, pear, squash etc. ends up in a landfill. It makes a difference!

  • Buy frozen produce when you will only be using a small amount at a time. Use just what you need and keep the rest in the freezer.

  • Add coffee grounds to potted plants or throw them in your garden.

  • Use loose tea with a tea infuser instead of tea bags.

  • Store food correctly. Ethylene gas builds up in bags storing produce which causes ripening and faster decay. See the link below for ideas.

Gunders has a lot of other ideas, like how to grow your own potatoes. In general there are endless ways to avoid wasting food.

Finally, try composting all produce scraps that you cannot find other uses for. Attached are guides for getting started. One is for creating and using a Worm Box. This is great for apartment living or an activity to share with kids or others. It's fun to see the transformation. It's not as gross as it sounds because you use very specific worms and the worms themselves are fascinating. The second is a presentation from my county's solid waste management authority.

Download PPTX • 1.18MB

composting naturally swa pdf
Download PDF • 68.27MB

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