Lower Your Carbon Footprint by Reducing Food Waste and Composting the Rest

Food Waste: Food that does not get consumed contributes significantly to climate changing carbon emissions. In the US, 80% of food waste occurs in home kitchens (45%), grocery stores and restaurants (35%) and food processing plants (1%). As consumers, we can each reduce our food waste and help reduce carbon emissions.

Strategies to reduce home food waste include: plan meals with foods you have (search for recipes by ingredients you have on hand at Big Oven, Supercook, MyFridgeFood ) or create shopping list by correct amounts needed; shop in stores that allow you to buy just what you need for your planned meals (e.g. 3 carrots for a recipe, not a full pound); divide and store foods correctly to preserve them for use (i.e. immediately freeze any portion not needed for a planned meal); if planned meals change, cook and freeze vegetables and cut up and freeze fruits for use later in soups, casseroles, smoothies; serve small portions to reduce waste on plates;.

Help stores reduce their food waste by buying “imperfect” if that suits your planned use: grocery stores put large amounts of foods on display because research shows this increases purchases but then throw out large amounts of unpurchased food. It is easy to use a mishappen or wilted food such as apples for a pie, veggies for a soup, and some stores sell these at reduced prices too.

Understand Sell By/Use By/ Best By dates: these do NOT refer to safety of foods but are producer’s estimate of time food will taste “best” and help stores with inventory control. If stored correctly, foods are safe and nutritious to eat long after these dates. Eatbydate is a website than can help you learn how long foods are safe if stored correctly.

Composting: It’s inevitable that everyone generates some food waste. Vegetable and fruit scraps can easily be composted in a home compost bin (along with breads and such). Compostable waste makes up at least 25% of the Town’s trash. By composting you can help reduce the town’s disposal costs as well cut your carbon emissions (composting returns carbon the soil instead of releasing it to the atmosphere).

Learn the simple recipe for making great home compost by mixing 1 part “green” food waste (like banana peels, orange rinds, coffee filters and grounds) with 3 parts by volume “brown” items like leaves, cardboard, or shredded newspaper. Even if live in an apartment or are not a home gardener, you can make compost easily and use it to enrich the soil around a rose bush or even your lawn or share it with a friend who has a vegetable garden.

There are a wide variety of compost bins and homemade compost piles. This presentation offers information on where to purchase a compost bin or how to make your own, the proper place to locate a compost pile in your yard, how to tell when it’s ready to use, and how to sift finished compost for use. Also covered, how to avoid making mistakes that can attract rats and other vermin to your pile. Composting is an easy skill that can save our town money on waste removal fees, reduces your carbon footprint and can yield a product that many refer to as “black gold.”

We are available to answer questions about food waste reduction and composting going forward.
And if you would like guidance in setting up a composting system at your house or apartment, we are available to coach you through it. We can help you make composting simple, rewarding and fun.

Brenda Black at hinghamnetzero@gmail.com
Janice McPhillips  at sustainablehingham@gmail.com
Peter Swanson at pswansonqhs@gmail.com