When it comes to trying to reduce waste in your home, food is actually one of the big factors, especially since it’s one of the main contributors to the greenhouse gas methane being released into the environment.
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Throwing away food is not only wasteful in terms of wasting money, but you also waste resources like water, fuel for transportation, and packaging (plastic, cardboard, metal), and energy for growing.
Leaning how to reduce food waste in your home is not only a great way to start being more organised and thoughtful when buying food, but it’s also great to learn if you’re getting into the zero waste movement too.
Why is reducing food waste important?
As I mentioned above, not only does food waste also waste money and resources, it’s also a contributor to climate change and global warming because it releases methane gas into the environment.
If you didn’t already know, when wasted food is put in your general waste bin, it later gets sent to landfill. Landfills are generally covered in compressed soil, and so the bacteria present in the soil and food waste is what produces the methane gas. Methane gas is also produced due to anaerobic respiration, which is when the waste starts to breakdown without oxygen – this is due to the covering of soil in the landfills.
Methane is also a greenhouse gas, and is actually more potent at warming the planet than carbon dioxide is. Being able to reduce the amount of natural matter that we send to landfills – and instead have a better way of using it or disposing of it, we’re actually helping to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere.
Easy solutions to reducing food waste at home
Below I have made a list of some simple ways to reduce your food waste in your home. Somethings might not work for everyone depending on your personal situation (some people don’t have a garden or food waste collection service) but just take what’s best for you and work from there!
Use your vegetable scraps
If you’re the type of person who cooks from home a lot, then chances are that you probably produce some vegetable scraps. There are a few different ways that you can reuse veggie scraps, including making vegetable stock for cooking, and saving peels from carrots, potatoes, and squash to make crispy snacks. You could also start cooking things like carrots and potatoes with their skins on, as they usually have lots of extra nutrients!
Preserve herbs in oil
If you tend to buy a lot of fresh herbs or you grow your own, then one way that you can use them for future meals is by persevering them in oil. Simply just chop up a couple of leaves/sprigs worth, put them in an ice cube tray and cover with oil, and then store in your freezer!
Store herbs and vegetables in water
When it comes to keeping your fresh produce at its best, one of the good ways to look after some veggies is by storing them in water. This works well with carrots, celery, broccoli, asparagus, and spring onions – simply just keep them submerged in water until you need to use them, and change the water every couple of days. Not all produce will fit in glass jars, but regular containers work just as well (and you’re probably likely to fit more in your fridge)!
You can do this with your cut herbs too, which is a great way to keep them alive a little longer.
Make meal plans
Before you do your weekly shop, try and make a meal plan of what you want to eat that week and check what you already have in your fridge and pantry. Not only is this a great way to save money, but it also means that you’re only buying produce that you need that week, rather than buying more of what you already have.
Keep a list on either the notes app on your phone or on an app like Notion – this is also a great way of keeping track along with sharing plans if you live with multiple people.
Eat and freeze leftovers
If you tend to make large quantities when cooking, make sure you store your leftovers thoughtfully so they don’t get wasted. A good way to do this is to portion the meal out into containers so they’re the right size for meals, and great for if you plan to freeze them as you’ll only have to defrost the right amount you’ll need.
Wrap leafy greens in a damp towel
When buying leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, or spring greens, a great way to store them to last a little longer is to wrap them in a damp cloth or towel – you can also store these in containers so their less likely to get crushed/damaged.
Store berries correctly
When the summer months come around, buying fresh berries becomes a lot more popular – but often can be thrown away after a few days due to them going past their best. There are a couple of ways you can help prolong their life, one is to wash them in water and store them in glass jars, or you could rinse them in diluted vinegar – just make sure you pat them dry before storing them.
If you tend to buy a lot of fresh produce but don’t usually get around to eating them and so throw them away, then maybe try and find an alternative way to buy them. More often than not you can find pre-chopped frozen fruit and veggies which are great for adding to stir fry’s or smoothies, or you could see what canned or dried produce is available to have in your cupboards.
Keeping all of your food organised is a great way to reduce waste, regardless of if it’s stored in the fridge, freezer, or pantry. Make sure you bring all your oldest produce to the front so you can see it, and try and include them to your meal plans so you remember to use it up.
Only buy what you need
Although it can take a little bit of practice to get into the habit of checking what food you already have at home and making shopping lists, making sure you only buy the ingredients you need is a great way to not only reduce your waste, but save money too.
Pairing this with keeping organised, you’re more likely to eat up food you bought a long time ago, as well as only bringing more of your essentials into your home.
Email your local council
If you live in the UK, you’ll know that most places around the country have a food waste collection service. If where you live doesn’t have one of these – and they don’t seem to be making any plans to introduce one, make sure you contact your local council member to let them know you would like the service, as well as the environmental impact it’ll have to start one.
Getting every last bit of your food
It might seem like a very frugal thing to be scraping all the end parts of your meal out of the pan, but it’s definitely worth it overall. If you often cook you’ll know that all sorts of small bits of scraps or that tiny bit of sauce is stuck to the pan, and you’ve already bought and cooked it so why not eat it? I find silicone spatulas really good for getting those last bits of food out!
Get a tube squeezer key
If you often buy things that come packaged in metal or plastic tubes – this could be anything from tomato puree to toothpaste, you’ll know how difficult it is to get the last bit out of the tube. Many brands sell these metal keys (such as UpCircle), but they’re a great little thing to have around the house to get the last bits out.
These are just a few easy ideas to help reduce your food waste, of course they won’t work for everyone but take what suits you! Do you have any tips to help reduce waste?
Looking for more sustainable ideas? Check out my other posts!
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