Did you know that food and yard waste (called organics) contribute to about 30% of the garbage we send for disposal? When food breaks down in landfills (a space without oxygen), it creates methane, which is a greenhouse gas. We can all help reduce our carbon footprint by reducing our food waste. The first step is to pay attention to what you’re buying. Check out what you have at home before going shopping. It also helps to plan what meals you’d like to make with the items from this shopping trip before you go. Some people like to plan a week ahead and some only a few days. Decide what you’re going to make, check what ingredients you have at home, and then make a list of what you need. If you are forgetful, take a picture of your pantry and fridge to look back at while you’re at the store. It can be easy to over-shop and buy things that may go bad before you can get to them. Be more mindful and try to stick to your list!
There are many resources available online to help you plan your meals, shopping lists, and even to help you find recipes for the food you already have! Check out stopfoodwaste.ie for in-depth tips on preventing food waste. You can also use savethefood.com to help plan for larger gatherings to avoid waste by using their guestimator to estimate how much food is needed to feed everyone, including leftovers if you want them!.
Another way to reduce your waste is to use as much of the items as possible. When cooking potatoes, you can skip peeling and cook them with the skin on for added nutrients. If you need to peel them, you can toss the peels in oil and seasonings and bake for a crispy snack! Or save veggie scraps in the freezer to make a homemade veggie stock once you have a freezer bag full. There are many ways to utilize what you normally may consider “food scraps,” you just have to find them! Try searching “scrappy cooking” or “cooking with food scraps” to learn new ways to utilize them.
Finally, you can try composting! Composting at home is its own discussion, but there are also places that accept food scraps for composting, like community gardens! Composting breaks down your food and turns it back into nutrient-dense soil. You can bring your scraps to the Ybor Community Garden located at 2924 Ybor Street, Tampa, FL 33605 on Friday’s from 10-12PM. Be sure to remove any stickers or plastic pieces that cannot be broken down.
Written by Savannah Bennett