Lifestyle|Sustainability

4 Easy & Useful Ways to Reuse Food Scraps 

Vegetable Stock

Making vegetable stock is by far the easiest and most rewarding way to reuse food scraps. All you have to do is place your scraps in the freezer until you have several cups worth (about 5-6 cups makes about 1 qt of broth).

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Scraps can include just about anything: carrot peelings, onion butts, left over herbs like parsley, rosemary, thyme, bell pepper tops and cores, potato skins, beet greens, fennel fronds – anything and everything!

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Throw everything into a large stock pot and fill with water until scraps are covered. If you have herbs, peppercorns, bay leaf, or garlic to add, go ahead and include those, too. Then simmer partially covered for 1-2 hours, or until the liquid is reduced by a third. Salt to taste and voila! It will keep in your fridge for about 1 week, or you can freeze the broth for later use. 

Tips:

– It’s better to have a good mix of vegetables rather than just one type of vegetable. 

– Save and throw in onion skins, which are an excellent source of antioxidants and quercetin (reference).

 

Citrus Peel Multipurpose Cleaning Spray

I just recently learned this awesome trick from @sustainabilityoverselfies and now it’s the only cleaner I use.

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Simply save all your citrus peels – lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, etc. – in a jar. Again, I keep mine in the freezer because it can take me a couple of weeks to use enough citrus. Once your jar is about 1/2 full, cover completely with white vinegar, seal, and place in a dark dry place for 2-4 weeks.

Vinegar is already a natural cleaner, great for removing soap scum, mildew, dirt, odors, and even disinfecting. What you’re really doing is infusing the vinegar with citrus as a way of giving it that lemony fresh scent, and creating a concentrate.

After 2 weeks your cleaner is ready, or you can let it sit longer for a stronger citrus scent. Strain the mixture with a fine mesh strainer and mix into a spray bottle with a 1:1 ratio of water. There you have it – a natural, safe and effective cleaner. Happy cleaning! 

Tips:

– Avoid using on granite or marble countertops because the vinegar will react with the natural stone.

– Add essential oils or herbs during infusion for more scent options!

 

Compost

Composting is an easy and important environmental action anyone can do at home. About 40% of food produced in America ends up in the landfills. Think about that for a second. That means 20 lbs of food is being wasted, per person per MONTH (reference). This is an upsetting statistic, and the first step toward changing those numbers is to be more mindful about how we purchase foods in the first place, not just going to the store and buying tomatoes because “I’ll probably use them somehow” and then forgetting about them until they’re in little squishy rotten piles in the back of the fridge. But I digress. These foods and food scraps could have a more ethical and productive final resting place in the bottom of your compost bin than at the bottom of a landfill. 

– Compost bins like these are odor trapping and can fit right under your sink. If you live near an organic grocery store or farmers market, chances are they will have compost drop off bins for you to dump your haul. There are even some organizations, like CompostNow in North Carolina, that will pick up your compost from your home! Do some research in your local areas and see what options might be available.

– If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, garage, or home garden, I envy you. Although not the best option for apartment dwellers like me, the ideal composting systems are the rotating bins like these which can turn the compost for consistent breakdown. To keep the decomposing food from turning to moldy rot, materials like grass, leaves, mulch, or similar natural items should be included and turn along in the bin. After several months of this, you will be left with the most amazing, rich compost that is ready to be added to your garden and plants.

 

Eggshells & Coffee Grounds 

If you have a garden, window box, or even a few potted plants around the house, adding crushed eggs shells and used coffee grounds to the soil will give your plants a hearty nutrient boost. The calcium from egg shells helps the plants build strong cell walls, while the nitrogen from coffee grounds is a major component of chlorophyl and helps plants to photosynthesize. 

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Tips:

– Rinse egg shells fully and dry to avoid odor – you can dry them by hand, by air drying, or even by putting them in the microwave for a minute or two. Then crush into smaller flakes. 

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