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Sustainable Sunday: Preventing Food Waste

Herb Garden

Did you know 1.3 billion tons of food waste is generated globally? This waste’s carbon footprint is estimated at about 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere every year.* Wasting food is one of my personal pet peeves, so I’ve been doing some research and experimenting and here are some of my favorite, easy ways to start cutting down food waste in our homes.

  • Extend the life of your herbs and veggies! By simply placing the root end of several herbs and vegetables in a cup with a small amount of water, you can re-grow them in your kitchen, no gardening required! This works well with: green onions, romaine lettuce, fennel and celery. Or, even better, start a little garden with trimmings from your favorite herbs! I’ve been able to do this even in an apartment with a small planter box outside on our entryway and have grown green onion, cilantro, mint, basil and rosemary using just trimmings and some soil!
  • For any veggie scraps that you can’t use or re-grow, try composting! Home composting can potentially divert over 300lbs of food waste per household per year from local collection authorities.* It can be surprisingly easy if you have a garden to utilize the compost in. This article does a good job of describing composting for beginners, where to start and what to include in your composting piles. If you don’t have a garden to compost in, check if there are any local compost facilities or drop-off locations. This site gives lots of helpful resources for California, but you can easily find locations for any state! 
  • Another alternative for veggie scraps: make your own vegetable stock! Place a bowl in your freezer and add any vegetable scraps that you would normally toss (think veggies that have gone a bit wilty, potato or carrot peels and ends, onion and shallot ends and stems, mushroom stems, broccoli stems, etc.). Once the bowl gets full, make sure you’ve cleaned the scraps well to remove any dirt, then place them in a large pot along with some seasonings (herbs, salt, garlic, ginger, bay leaf) and cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer covered for about an hour. After that you’re ready to strain and use or store in an airtight jar for up to a week. You can also freeze the broth if you don’t plan on using it immediately.

Outside of these tips, I’m constantly trying to adjust my purchasing habits to ensure I’m only buying what I need, and have had lots of fun coming up with recipes to use leftovers that may be going bad. (Stir fry and soups are always a good idea!) Hopefully this gives you some inspo to start cutting back on food waste in your household. I would love to know what you try and if you come up with any methods of your own! 


Sources:

Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations 

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