define a sustainable lifestyle – the others being reusing and reducing. In order to ensure we do our bit to reduce the effects of climate change and global warming, we need encourage small recycling habits in our home. One of these, which actually requires very little effort or input, is recycling our left-over foods and food waste. Doing this has the potential to drastically reduce the volume of garbage going to landfill, and can also save us money (as it can replace some things like fertilizer and compost which may otherwise be bought).
Some facts about food waste
The facts around food waste and its destruction of the environment are astounding. Just some of the worst of these are listed below¹,²,³:
- Around a third of the food produced worldwide every year gets either lost or wasted – this amounts to around 1.3 billion tons of food a year.
- At least 33 million tonnes of food waste is placed in landfill every single year – in the USA alone! Over 97% of the USA’s food waste is placed in landfill.
- In 2010, less than 3% of food waste was either recovered or recycled.
- According to a study by the University of Arizona, food waste costs an average family of four people at least $589.76 every single year.
So, what can you do to reduce your food wastage and save money? The answer is really very simple – you can recycle all your food scraps and/or leftovers by turning them into useful household products and/or making sure you don’t waste food in the first place.
Composting is probably the most popular method of home food recycling, and involves controlling the decomposition process of food waste to ensure that it is turned into useful and reusable products⁴. You can compost in a number of ways, which vary from throwing your food scraps in a pile in the back yard to using specialised compost systems and tools.
There are a number of benefits which can be gained by composting, which include:
- Reducing landfill volume
- Saving money on garbage disposal
- Enriching your soil and allowing you to grow your own fruits and vegetables
Using a worm farm
Using a worm farm to recycle your food scraps is similar to composting, but involves the addition of earth-worms to the composting system. This is done via a specialised ‘worm-farm’, which can be purchased online or from any home improvement or garden store.
The worms will break down any of your food waste and other organic matter into fertile compost which you can reuse on your garden. They are extremely efficient, being able to eat and process their own body weight every single day⁵.
They are also a good option for people with limited space or who don’t have a garden, as they can easily be put into a corner or in the basement of our apartment.
Donate unused food
If you have unused food which is still in good condition, then you could consider donating it to a food bank rather than throwing it away. A simple action like this has two benefits: not only does it reduce landfill mass, but it also provides cheap, accessible food for the homeless and for other people who would be unable to afford good nutrition otherwise⁶.