The invention of plastic has revolutionized the way people live. But the problem with plastics especially the notorious single-use ones, it takes thousands of years for them to degrade. The problem with plastics and their impact on the environment, dealing with plastics has now become an environmental issue. Much so for developing countries. where they are the most vulnerable because of the lack of a robust waste and recycling management system in place. While plastic waste hosts a wide variety of environmental issues, there is also a waste issue that is soon to be on equal part with plastic waste and that is food waste. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), in 2018, around 42.8 million tons of food waste ended up in landfills and other waste facilities. The problem with food waste is greenhouse gas called methane. As the breakdown of the organic material (anaerobic activity), it releases methane into the atmosphere which is much more potent in trapping heat as compared to Co2. In addition, food waste isn’t limited to waste which was the result of a meal or leftovers. While there is a lot to be done, including adopting a more sustainable approach to agriculture. But one thing’s for sure, consumers have the power to evoke change. Starting from being conscious to adopt and practice conscious consumption.
That’s why here are some tips and tricks to help reduce your food waste.:
- Plan Ahead – A lot of people don’t realize that planning ahead is one of the simplest ways to reduce food waste and overspending on food or produce. Creating a monthly or weekly list of what food to buy in bulk or in small quantities can help you keep track of where your money goes. Yes, it does take time to plan ahead, but creating a list and having a solid plan can definitely help reduce your monthly or weekly grocery bill. Which is great especially when the budget is tight. An additional tip, having a meal plan also helps it narrow down what ingredients to look for and ensures that it is consumed before it spoils.
- Blend it up – hate having to throw overripe fruits? Or don’t know what to do with the vegetables that are wilting in your fridge? Instead of throwing them away, how about blending them into smoothies. Not only this is a good idea to reduce food waste, but also a great way to consume multiple fruits all at once. In terms of vegetables, blending them is also a great way to add another layer of flavor in soups, sauces, and even stocks. Here’s another tip, after blending those fruits and vegetables from your fridge, why not pour them into an ice tray and then put them in the freezer. This will not only extend the shelf life but allows you to portion to whatever it is that you needed. Further reducing food waste in the process.
- Try Preserving Them – Don’t you just love to whip up a nice batch of tomato soup, especially during winter. With some grilled cheese on the side of course. But, alas, it’s winter and you are too lazy to brave the bitter cold just for a bag of tomatoes. So next, time.. how about you try preserving them, especially when they are in season. Preserving techniques also include pickling, canning, jam making (fruits), and many more. Preserving vegetables, even fruits can also be possible, is a great way to reduce food waste. In addition, it also ensures that you have enough stockpile especially when you have food emergencies.
- Regrow them – Let’s face it, not all parts of a vegetable or fruit are suitable for consumption. They could be the stem of the carrot or the top of an onion. As for the fruits, some fruit seeds are inedible (mango seeds, avocado seeds, etc.). So instead of throwing them away, how about regrowing or replanting them. Either in your backyard or some milk jars indoors. This may take a little bit of patience and some research. The key to regrowing fruits and vegetables is to start small. Maybe start with tomatoes, herbs like rosemary, basil, etc. As for fruits, they take a while to grow, so patience is the key. Regrowing fruits and vegetables can help reduce your monthly grocery bill in the future. You don’t have to buy some fruits or vegetables anymore. Thus saving money in the process and reducing food waste. Plus, growing herbs look good on a kitchen counter.
- Divert food waste through composting – if you’re into gardening, composting can be another way to help reduce food waste ending up in landfills. Which is in return, helps reduce the production of methane from decomposing organic matter. Composting is the addition of organic materials (food & kitchen scraps for example) into the soil, to aid in plant growth. Other materials, besides kitchen and food scraps, there are also yard trimmings, wood chips, paper, and more. But also take note, not all organic materials can be used for composting, so take that in mind. Here are some steps on how to start composting at home.
- Start a Vermicompost – feeling a little bit adventurous, how about vermicomposting. The lack of oxygen can hinder the composting process. Even if the presence of oxygen isn’t enough to completely reduce the organic material into more usable food for plants. That’s where vermicomposting comes in. For a better end-product for plant food, certain species of worms are introduced into the composting container or area. Basically, Vermicompost is the result of worms chowing down on organic materials. For the step by step process, here and here, on how to get you started. The resulting product contains NPK and is rich in both macronutrients and micronutrients, which boost plant growth. A great alternative to using other forms of commercial fertilizers.