What is defined as food waste?
Let's talk about food waste – all that yummy stuff that gets tossed, lost, or left uneaten along the food journey. It happens from production to your plate, and there are many reasons why this edible adventure turns into waste: from spoilage to overproduction and even foods not chilling at the right temperature in the fridge!
In this blog, we're zooming in on the food waste and scraps in our homes. We'll explore how this impacts our environment (not cool!), and, most importantly, we'll help you out with a few ways to put those scraps to good use.
How does food waste affect the environment?
First, let's discuss how food waste messes with our environment. We use many precious resources like water, energy, and land to produce food.
When food waste ends up in landfills, it breaks down in a way that pumps out methane, a severe greenhouse gas roughly 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide. On top of that – excessive food waste messes with our soil too. All that wasted food strains agricultural land, causing soil erosion and degradation. Water waste is a major issue too. Agriculture uses a lot of fresh water, but when food goes to waste, all that water used to grow and process it gets wasted. It's like a double whammy, putting extra stress on our precious water sources. And we can't forget about energy. Making, moving, and cooling food takes a ton of energy. So, when we waste food, we're also wasting that energy used in the process.
Water, land, and energy are all part of the game. When we waste food, it's like we're throwing away all those resources too. It's putting a severe strain on our ecosystems.
We must take all the steps we can to reduce our food waste or utilise it sustainably.
Where to start with your food scraps at home: food scraps bin
The first step to tackling food waste like a pro is to make it easy to collect those scraps! Get yourself a food scraps bin and place it right within arm's reach at home. Now, here are a few simple tips to kick things off and make it as easy as possible.
The first step in reducing food waste is making it easy and convenient to collect so that you can utilise the scraps for what you decide. Having a food scrap bin easily accessible at home is a great way to manage waste. You should know a few things to get started and make collecting your food scraps as simple as possible.
Choose the right bin: Time to find the perfect bin for your food scraps. Think about what kind of scraps you'd like to collect and how you plan to use them. You've got a few options to choose from: a cute little countertop bin, a big container tucked under the sink, or even an outdoor compost bin. Pick the one that fits your style you know you'll use.
Line the bin: This one is up to you, but it can be a real game changer! Get creative with stuff you already have to keep your bin in tip-top shape and avoid funky odours. Grab some old newspapers or paper bags to line the bin.
Store the bin properly: Find the perfect spot for your food scraps bin! If you want it to be convenient, pop it right on your kitchen countertop or slide it under the sink – easy peasy! But here's the secret: make sure it's sealed up tight to keep those pesky odours and fruit flies at bay.
Empty regularly: How often you'll need to empty that bin depends on two things: its size and how much food you're tossing in there. We suggest emptying it every few days to ensure it's not getting a little smelly. You can empty it into a bigger bin outside until you're ready to turn it into something!
What to do with food scraps?
Composting is the most obvious When discussing what to do with food scraps. It isn't, however, the only option! Here are some creative ideas for utilising your food scraps.
Vegetable broth from Vegetable Scraps:
Save vegetable scraps like carrot tops, onion peels, celery leaves, and potato peels to make a tasty vege broth. Simmer the scraps in water with some herbs, spices & salt, then strain the liquid as a base for soups, stews, and other savoury goodness.
Food scraps that regrow:
Some vege scraps can be regrown into new plants. Grab those green onions, place the root ends in water or grow new lettuce from the stem end. If you have a vegetable garden look, it only takes a quick Google search to find out what vegetable waste can be replanted!
Food scraps for dogs:
Feeding your furry friend food scraps is a great way to reduce food waste while giving them a little variety in their diet. There is a small catch you need to be mindful of, to keep our four-legged friends healthy, scraps can only be a bonus treat and not their whole meal, so make sure scraps aren't making up more than 10% of their diet.
Wondering which scraps are ok for your dog? Plain, unseasoned food scraps such as meat without bones, safe fruits and vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, green beans, apples (without seeds), and blueberries.
Before you go all in, it's a good idea to consult your vet. They can provide personalised advice based on your dog's needs and health conditions.
Food scraps for chickens:
Chickens love food scraps! Just like with dogs, it's a win for reducing waste and adding some variation to their daily intake.
Chickens aren't picky eaters' vegetable peels, fruit scraps, bread, pasta, rice, some cooked meat and fish (but not too much), and even yogurt and cheese (again, not too much) can all be on the menu.
To keep your chickens safe, you're best to avoid foods that are toxic to chickens, like chocolate, onions, garlic, avocados, or anything mouldy or spoiled. It's also a good idea to chop or crush larger food scraps or things that are tough, like fruits with tough skins, just to make it easier for them to eat.
Can I compost directly in my garden?
Got anything left over? Guess what...you can compost directly onto your garden! It's like a party for your plants! It's known as "sheet composting" or "lasagna gardening." Composting in your garden helps to recycle organic materials, enrich the soil, and improve overall soil health. Let's break it down into simple steps:
Find your spot: Pick a place in your garden where you want to kick off the composting action. This will be your future plant-growing haven, so choose wisely! Clear the area of any debris or weeds and loosen the soil surface slightly.
Start layering: Lay down some brown, dry, carbon-rich material like leaves, straw, or shredded newspaper – this is the base for your new compost!
Get green: Add kitchen scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and veggie peels on top – this will start the composting.
Keep it alternating: Layering brown, green, brown, green. Make sure to keep it around 2 to 3 feet tall.
Keep things moist: Don't forget to water the layers before piling on the next layer. Compost requires moisture.
Top it off: Add a layer of soil or finished compost on top – this helps control the smells and keeps critters away. Plus, it adds some helpful microorganisms!
Let the magic happen: It's time to let the composting happen. The materials will break down and transform over time.
Get planting: Once the composting is done, you can plant directly into that nutrient-rich soil and watch it grow!
You'll notice a range of benefits from composting directly in your garden, including improved soil structure, better water retention, more nutrient availability for your plants, and a happy ecosystem of soil organisms—plus, no more hauling and spreading compost separately.
So, are you ready to turn our kitchen waste into garden gold?