It’s no secret that food waste is a huge issue around the globe. Roughly ⅓ of annual global food production goes to waste, and if food waste was a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the U.S. and China. These emissions account for the emissions created from growing and processing the waste food, as well as the methane that the food releases when it sits in a landfill. Luckily, food waste is an issue that consumers can play a big role in curbing. Meal planning, freezing surplus produce, buying single bananas and composting food scraps are all effective ways to reduce food waste and cut related emissions. There are also ways to repurpose your food waste into valuable beauty, cleaning, and food products. Here are our top five ways to repurpose your food waste at home.
According to the NRDC, ⅔ of the food we throw away is potentially edible. This is because a large amount of food waste stems from consumers overbuying and overpreparing, leaving them with too much food to eat. If this ever happens to you, donate your excess food to your local food bank, or create a free pantry in your neighborhood to give back to your community. If you have extra funds, go to the grocery store and buy up food that is on the brink of going bad, and take it to a food bank or put it in your free pantry. Just make sure the food is 100% edible before donating.
Use citrus peels in cleaners
If you’re looking to live a more eco-friendly life, you’re probably going to want to make your own cleaners. Traditional household cleaners are chocked full of toxic ingredients and are packaged in plastic. To make your own, combine your citrus peel scraps with ⅔ cup of white vinegar and let it infuse for at least a week. Then, put one part citrus-vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle, and use it as you would a normal house cleaner. This is a great way to repurpose your citrus peels, and a great way to avoid using toxic cleaners.
Use coffee grounds in exfoliating scrubs
If you drink coffee every day, your morning ritual probably consists of throwing away coffee grounds. If you’re like me, you store them in a mason jar in your fridge, because coffee grounds feel too expensive to throw away. Lucky for me, these coffee grounds don’t just sit in my fridge with no use- there are a ton of ways to repurpose the grounds into valuable goods. My favorite? An exfoliating scrub. Exfoliating scrubs can be relatively expensive, so making my own with a waste product I inevitably create is a win-win. All I do is combine two parts coffee grounds and 1 part oil (olive, coconut, or avocado), and then use it in the shower like I would any other scrub. You can also add essential oils or vanilla extract. Don’t use this scrub more than once a week- it could hurt your drain.
Make veggie broth
Vegetable peels, seeds, tops, stems… food waste from vegetables really adds up. But, instead of throwing them away, store them in your freezer and use them to make veggie broth! All you have to do is collect your veggie scraps, and then combine them in a pot with water, garlic, and any other seasonings you see fit. Simmer it, strain it, and voila- you have veggie broth!
Making croutons is a great use of stale bread or bread that you won’t otherwise eat. All you have to do is cut the bread into cubes, drizzle it with olive oil and seasonings, and bake it. Easy and delicious.
How do you repurpose food waste?
Is the blog manager for Zero Waste Club, combining her love for writing with her passion for all things environmental sustainability. She is currently a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is studying journalism, environmental studies, and food studies in hopes of building a career in environmental activism. You can find her on Instagram as @kaylaguilliams.