We all know that food waste is a huge problem. According to Foodwise, Australians discard up to 20% of the food they purchase and up to 40% of the average rubbish bin is food. The average Australian household throws away over $1,000 worth of food each year.
So what can we do about household food waste? How can we reduce the amount of food that ends up in landfill?
This article will give you strategies to both reduce household food waste and manage the waste you generate.
1. Reduce the amount of waste producing food that enters your house
- Shop at home first. Use up what you have rather than buy more food.
- Plan menus so you only buy what you need and are less reliant on packaging intensive takeaways.
- Take reusable produce bags and reusable grocery bags when food shopping to reduce plastic consumption.
- Buy unprocessed food with minimal or no packaging.
- Reuse leftovers rather than throwing them out.
The next step is to manage any remaining waste that you generate.
2. Start a worm farm
Commercial worm farms have a tap in the bottom tray that is used to drain worm juice, a fantastic organic liquid fertiliser. I dilute worm juice 10:1 for use on new plants, seedlings, fruit trees and vegetables. The worm castings generated also make an excellent organic fertiliser and soil conditioner.
I have two worm farms for my family of six and we use them for most food waste that doesn’t go to the chooks. Some foods the worms don’t like include citrus peels and onion skins, and meat and dairy scraps are best avoided as they can attract flies.
3. Compost your scraps
Here is a guide to making compost, a great way to recycle garden as well as food waste. And don’t forget the result: loads of lovely compost to condition and fertilise your soil.
4. Try a Bokashi Bucket
Maybe you live in an apartment without an outdoor area for keeping a compost bin or worm farm. In that case, a bokashi bucket may be the answer for you.
Bokashi composting is an eco-friendly, anaerobic composting system designed to be used in the kitchen. Food waste is layered with Bokashi mix in a Bokashi bucket. Due to the air-tight bucket and the micro-organisms present in the mix, the waste ferments. The Bokashi juice produced is alive with micro-organisms and can be used in the garden and around the home. When the bucket is full, the waste is transferred outside and buried beneath the soil to complete the composting process.
5. Get chickens
My pet chickens are by far my favourite food recyclers. Apart from their disarming personalities, chooks have the following environmental benefits:
- They eat all sorts of food scraps, including vegetable peelings (potato peel should be cooked first), leftover breakfast cereal, leftover school lunches, fruit scraps and any cooked vegetables. We also feed them a commercial layer mix.
- Chooks also eat garden waste including vegetable leaves from the veggie patch, lawn clippings and most weeds
- They turn the scraps they are given into wonderful fertiliser. Our chicken run includes four fruit trees — a nectarine, a blood orange, a plum and an apple — and the chooks fertilise the trees then dig in the fertiliser. They also eat any fallen fruit and insect pests pupating in the soil.
- Last but not least, we get three to four eggs a day.
If you have space and your local council permits it, I highly recommend investing in a couple of these hard-working birds.
What strategies do you use to reduce and manage food waste in your home?