Kitchen scraps – a wasted opportunity

Today’s post is all about food waste.

While there are many ideals when it comes to dealing with food waste, and I will discuss some of them, there are also a couple of very easy things you can do instead of putting your kitchen scraps into landfill.

Did you know that even degradable and compostable items like paper and food cause issues in landfill? The environment in landfill lacks air, which is the key ingredient to items breaking down. So while you may imagine that you are doing no harm sending your food waste to landfill because it’s organic and breaks down anyway, the lack of air means that the plant matter actually generates methane gas when it decays – which you will probably know is one of the greenhouse gases.

So, what can you do? The simplest, easiest, and first step that I suggest is you take advantage of your local council’s green waste collection.

Fortunately, for those of you who, like me, live in metropolitan South Australia, your council most likely has a kitchen waste system that is very easy to adapt to.

Our local council, for example, simply requires its residents to register for the food scrap recycling service to receive free cornstarch bags to keep kitchen scraps in until they are ready to go into the green bin. They can also purchase a bench-top or under-the-cupboard bin for $5 to help in the process.

My husband and I began disposing of our food scraps in this way 4 years or so ago, and it is so easy. We probably empty the food scrap bin every 2-3 days so even in summer it rarely has a chance to get stinky. If you are particularly concerned about odours, you can also freeze your scraps in a dedicated container until the bin collection day. This is particularly relevant for those with meat scraps as they will rot in the bin!

ALL food scraps can go into this bin, as well as some other things you may be surprised by, such as pet poo (but not the plastic bags you may be collecting it in!)

When the green waste is collected, it is converted into compost.

But, why let someone else benefit from your wonderful food scraps?

There are a couple of ‘more ideal’ solutions than simply having your council’s waste service convert your food waste into compost.

Firstly, for the super-keen, why not try making stock out of your scraps? Vegetable peelings, trimmed off ends, leaves, stalks etc can make great vegetable stock that you can store in the fridge or freezer. For any meat eaters, of course you can do the same with offcuts of meat or bones (and presumably fish as well, though I’ve never tried to make fish or meat stock!). Any waste remaining after this can still go into the kerbside green waste bin.

Another alternative is to make your own compost. You don’t have to go as far as making a worm farm (though it’s certainly on my list for the future), but you can generate your own compost fairly easily and with a very low startup cost, especially if you are prepared to DIY. Do some research to find out which method is best for you.

Some items shouldn’t go into worm farms or compost heaps (particularly meat and dairy), and for those, there is still the green waste bin.

So there you have it. It is so easy to reduce the amount of methane your waste produces, just with a very small change to your habits in the kitchen.

According to “1 Million Women”, if 10% of Australians compost their food waste rather than send it to landfill, that will prevent 450 million kg of greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere.*

Not in SA? Have different opportunities or options where you live? Jump online and research what to do with food scraps in your local area. Comment below if you have any information that can help others in the same location!

 

*Much as I have tried, I can’t find the original post they made about this, and found this statistic on a post by Biome Eco Stores (a highly recommended website for any low- or zero-waste supplies you might need!)… so I don’t know about the time frame of this amount of greenhouse gases – one year? one lifetime? Anyway, even if that’s over a lifetime, I think it’s significant enough to bother making a difference. I hope you agree.

Remember, small changes, bit-by-bit, can ultimately make a big difference.

Live better.