Sunday, 27 June 2010

How to reduce food waste

The council have been round today with their mini food caddies (or 'slop' bins as most people will know them as) and bio degradable bags to encourage us to separate our food waster from our run of the mill rubbish. My sister was quite critical of the small size, but I imagine that this is so that you don't have a huge well of rotting matter building up in your kitchen - not good at best of times and certainly to be avoided in the summer - but also to prompt us to reduce the amount of waste full stop.

As a result I've decided to compile a list of some tried and tested methods to reduce food and packaging waste, and tips on how to re-use some items. These are just a few, feel free to add your own comments.

  • First up, don't go shopping hungry; be it food shopping, where you'll be prone to giving into your cravings or even just clothes shopping in town, where you'll be more likely to snack on convenience foods. Can be harmful to the environment and your waist line.
  • When buying fruit and veg, don't bother putting loose produce into those wispy clear plastic bags. After all they do nothing to protect the fruit from squashing in the trolley or on the way home, and are pretty pointless when you think about it. If you have concerns about soft or delicate produce getting squashed or damaged, leave until last and place on top. So long as you rack like items up together on the conveyor belt, it shouldn't bother the cashier either when it comes to weighing and payment.
  • Re-usable shopping bags or bags for life are a must.
  • If you have a 'Scoop and Shop' near you (where items such as grains, cereals, detergents etc can be weighed out) take old boxes, tubs and containers with you to re-use.
  • If you feel that your supermarket is irresponsible in the amount of packaging that it uses for some items, unpack and leave the rubbish at the till. If it becomes their problem to dispose of they will eventually deal with the issue. On the same note, don't be afraid to complain about packaging issues to stores and manufacturers.
  • Don't dismiss peel and skin. Many shops now offer items such as carrots that don't need to be peeled, but so long as they are clean, fresh and particularly if they are young, most carrots don't need to be peeled anyway. In fact, roasted unpeeled carrots have a far nicer texture and taste than peeled in my opinion. I also leave potatoes unpeeled in most dishes, including mash. There is also no harm in adding most peels to a stock pot, if you are planning to sieve it out anyway, giving them an alternative use before you throw them out.
  • Use left over meat carcasses for stocks. Both the stock and the bones can be frozen if you don't want/need them immediately.
  • Avoid nylon tea bags, they can't be thrown into the compost like ordinary tea bags can. Loose tea leaves are even less wasteful.
  • Portion control. Observe the packet/recipe guidelines. They are there for a couple of reasons, one being to make sure that there isn't a mountain of food left over.
  • Use egg shells and orange peel as natural pest preventives in the garden. Slug and snails will avoid plants surrounded by egg shells, while most cats will avoid orange peel for a few days at least.
  • Keep old take away and ice cream tubs and containers for left overs, rather than buying new Tupperware. They take up less room in the fridge than a plate would, can be washed and reused multiple times (unlike cellophane or foil), are more hygienic than keeping things in tins, can be frozen in most cases and if they are clear you have a visual indicator if things have spoiled. They also make good containers for sandwiches and packed lunches.
  • Feed the birds. As a kid I would throw out pieces of bread for the birds and wait in anticipation as they made their way into my garden to feed. When it snowed heavily this winter me and my niece did this again, and I've been trying to remember to do this with her crusts (she doesn't like the crunchy bits) when ever she's been round our house for food. 
  • Be creative with leftovers. Over the next few weeks I'll be posting some of my favourite left over recipes, starting tomorrow with Sort of Bread and Butter Pudding.

No comments:

Post a Comment