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New Year's Resolution: Reduce Food Waste (and save money!)

A new year is a great time to set some new goals, how about gradually making changes to your life to create less waste? In other words, go Zero Waste!

One thing to keep in mind is that the concept of Zero Waste is not about recycling and composting our way to a more sustainable lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, recycling and composting are important, but they are only one small piece of reducing our impact on the planet. If you look at the Zero Waste hierarchy, reduce and reuse come first, before recycling and composting, and for good reason. If you consume less overall, and if you reuse something you already have, you are greatly reducing the energy and greenhouse gas emissions that went into creating that product, and the waste that you would have created after using that product. In fact, recycling and composting don’t reduce waste at all, they simply divert it from landfill and incineration. It's far more impactful to reduce the amount of food you waste and to donate edible food to those in need, than it is to compost food. Plus as you reduce your household's food waste, you naturally save money by buying only what you need, and by having less compost or trash to have collected, among other ways you save money.

Here are 5 tips for reducing food waste in your own home:

  1. Make a menu and grocery list every week, this will help you do your food shopping more efficiently, saving money and only buying as much as you need in the process.

  2. Learn how to store food in order to maximize its freshness, in the fridge or freezer. Don’t let leftovers go bad- casseroles and many other dishes freeze exceptionally well! Before bread goes bad, slice it up and place it in a container in the freezer, later toast on a higher setting to defrost. Extend the life of herbs and carrots by placing them in a glass of water in the fridge. Extend the life of most veggies by wrapping them in clean cloth and placing in the fridge.

  3. Eat your leftovers! Remember to bring leftovers the next day for lunch. Besides fish, most dinner leftovers last for 4- 5 days.

  4. Ignore ‘sell by’ dates and take expiration dates with a grain of salt. Trust your own intuition when it comes to food spoilage. ‘Sell by’ dates are to inform the retailer of the recommended date by which the food should be sold, they do not indicate expiration. Many expiration dates are also extremely conservative. Use the sniff test and the taste test, in addition to the expiration date, to decide when to compost (ideally) or trash the food.

  5. Get creative with food scraps! Vegetable peels can be used to make broth, fruit peels from apples, pears or pineapples can be used to make vinegar. To make this vinegar, fill a jar with the scraps, add a spoonful of sugar, pour water to cover the scraps, secure with a lid, stir daily, wait, and then when ready, strain out the vinegar. For other great ideas Google, Zero-Waste Chef.

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