2017 will be the Zero FOOD Waste YEAR –
ZeroFood Waste- Landfill courtesy celestine-ngulube, via unsplash
The year we finally get our FOOD WASTE TO ZERO.
Zero Waste Alliance are launching a big weapon in the war on Food Waste – a commercial Zero Food waste digester for Food catering and retailing establishments. We will follow later in the year with a Domestic unit suitable for Households. This is a timely intervention as price hikes for food waste collections will kick in and our landfills refuse to accept food waste (a long overdue implementation of EU directives in Ireland).
With Food Management techniques, aerobic on-site food waste digestion to energy, anaerobic digestion facilities or regular composters used, no more Food Waste needs to go to landfill. Battle over ! Whooppee.
Check out a Food Waste Digester in action here.
But remember that you can fight food waste by clever planning and avoiding waste in the first instance. No food waste means no big waste collection charges. Makes sense right. So pay attention and follow these simple steps to cut your food losses and your bills to zero.
How to Reach Zero Food Waste In Your Home
Don’t buy what you don’t need in the first place. Don’t buy quantities beyond your capacity to use before it goes stale. Special offers are tempting but you often buy more than you can consume in a short period and unless it is non-perishable, you can freeze it or store it safely it ends up in the waste bin. Make a shopping list, with quantities needed and stick to this list. Do not be diverted or tempted to add to it.
Once you’ve brought food home don’t let it rot there, unloved and uneaten before it’s use by date. How many times have you had to throw away that last apple or banana or the rest of that bagged salad mix because it ripened or degraded before your family could eat it? It went from shelf to bin and through your wallet. Just think of the money you wasted to buy food just to allow it to spoil and dump in the compost bin or garbage bin.
Here’s 3 ways to get a better outcome and make your home a zero food waster’s paradise.
1. Eat What You Buy – and only buy what you need for the short term.
It’s all about quantities. Work out just how many apples your family will eat in a week? How many meals will you plan next week using potatoes? That huge bag of tomatoes may be on sale, but can all those ripe tomatoes really be eaten before they go bad? What is your Tomato consumption rate in a week? Just buy that amount because any more is a false economy unless you freeze them. So buy only what your family can reasonably eat while it’s still fresh. What might have appeared to be a bargain basement price for a big quantity might end up in a basement garbage bin, leaving you with disposal costs. In your quest to reach the Zero Food Waste zone you must imagine that garbage bin being tiny.
2. Use Your Leftovers – or Freeze them.
Cook the amounts you will need for that meal only. But sometimes you need to cook for a few meals to save time later in the busy week. e.g. a roast, a large curry. Cooking in bulk makes sense if you plan well and know when it will be consumed. That’s fine but remember to freeze and seal stored future meals so they are fresh when defrosted. Food can be forgotten in that frozen cabinet so label them well with use by dates. With smaller amounts of leftovers store them in glass or see through plastic jars so you can plainly see the food. That way you either enjoy those leftovers for lunch the next day or turn them into a brand new meal and reduce waste at the same time. Call it your Zero Food Waste menu.
3. Portion controls anyone?
Very often we leave a large amount on our plates because our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. This happens a lot at buffet style meals. Rather serve smaller portions and repeat courses with extra helpings when the first ones are eaten. This applies especially to kids. This way uneaten food is still in the serving pot, uncontaminated by sauces and gravy etc. You can re-use next day or freeze for future use. Result – less scrapings of mixed food waste. We’re getting close to Zero Food Waste now. Which leads us logically to the next situation.
Too late. It’s gone off ? What If It Goes Bad? – It can happen that you buy fresh produce and then it ripens quicker than you thought it would, or the kids leave a lot on their plate. Don’t throw it away. Scrape it into a compost bin or a Zero Food Waste digester if you have one. With a digester you get rich compost in about 24 hours, or about 6 months for an outside compost heap.
Bringing it all Home – The one time to not avoid waste.
There is one case where avoidance is what we do not want to do. This is when we should bring it home. If you enjoy a restaurant meal but are unable to finish the food served – a very common occurrence – ask for a doggy bag. Otherwise it goes into the restaurant food waste pile and gets wasted. The restaurant owner will thank you for reducing his pay-by- weigh food waste bin collection charge and you have a nice snack or lunch next day.
Bon appetit !