4 Tips For Reducing Your Kitchen Waste
Food and kitchen waste are practically a way of life in the United States. In fact, 40 percent of U.S. food goes to waste every year according to a 2012 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. That’s money ($165 billion annually) being literally thrown out and filling up our landfills.
“In a world where people go hungry every day, many of them right here in the United States, wasting food is an obvious moral and ethical problem,” says Louisa Shafia, author of “Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life” (Ten Speed Press, 2009) and founder of Magpie Cookshop.
It’s also an environmental problem since all of the resources that went into its production are also wasted including the water, soil, human labor, electricity and gas.
Luckily, everyone can make small lifestyle changes to reduce their kitchen waste that can make a huge difference both for the environment and for your standard of living.
“Reducing waste saves time, money and it’s healthier for you,” says Bea Johnson, author of “Zero Waste Home” (Scribner, 2013). “Overall, it offers a richer life, one based on experiences instead of stuff, it makes time in your life for what matters.”
Here are four easy ways experts recommend to get you started reducing your food waste:
1. Shop Smart
First you’ll need to change how you shop for groceries. Start by getting into the habit of planning meals ahead of time and cooking from scratch. That way you’ll only buy what you need (saving you money and decreasing potential waste) and buy products with less excess packaging. An added bonus: your family will automatically be eating healthier.
2. Ditch the Plastic
Invest in reusable products like totes for grocery shopping, glass and Tupperware containers and biodegradable trash bags. You’ll save money and Mother Nature will thank you in the long run.
“Plastic wrap, storage bags and containers all wind up in the trash,” Shafia says. “These days, you can even get reusable cloth bags for your produce. Use glass to store food; unlike plastic, it doesn't leach toxins into your food.”
3. Turn Leftovers into Soup
Never know what to do with the odds and ends of veggies or produce that’s a little too ripe? Soup is your no-waste kitchen answer.
“So many things that you would normally throw away can get tossed into a pot and transformed into a delicious one-pot meal via soup,” Shafia says. “My favorite thing to do with common kitchen scraps like beet and radish greens, and broccoli and kale stems is to make pureed greens soup."
Leftover meat or chicken bones can also be transformed into a homemade stock that you can freeze for future meals.
4. Compost the Rest
No matter how much planning you do, inevitably there will always be some scraps that just don’t make it onto a plate. That’s where composting comes in.
“Food composting turns your scraps into rich soil and replenishes the earth. It's the way nature is supposed to work!” Shafia says. “It also means you almost never have to take out the garbage.”