21 Ways To Waste Less At Home

21 Ways To Waste Less At Home

I'll never forget an episode of a Nigella Lawson cooking show where she pours the leftover wine from her guests’ glasses and freezes it for later use — to throw into a stock or sauce. I just loved how she did this with no thought for whether anyone might have left their germs on the glass. The Australian campaign Foodwise estimates that the average Australian household throws out more than $1,000 worth of food each year.

Whether you find Lawson’s move repulsive or just resourceful, no one could disagree that the amount of stuff we throw out today is absurd. But there are some easy ways we can waste less. Celebrity chefs such as Lawson and Jamie Oliver have been good at making us more aware of food waste. And some of us have learned from parents who endured war or postwar shortages and have long been thrifty with waste of all kinds. So, here are ways you can do your part to minimize waste, from food to clothing and more.
1. Decide what’s for dinner. Do you ever find yourself in the supermarket randomly picking up things you would quite like to eat but with no real thought as to what you’re going to cook? I do, but I know that if I think ahead and plan each meal in advance, I’ll be more likely to buy only what I need. Later on in the week, I’ll be much less likely to rush out for takeout.
2. Avoid overshopping. Attempting to buy less — or shop smarter — can be applied to food and other things, from shoes to handbags to kitchen appliances.

Of course, it’s hard because many of us have a shopping addiction hardwired into our brains, and I know only too well how much fun shopping can be. But to reduce waste, really think about everything you bring into your home. If you think it’s an impulse buy, stop and return for it on the next trip. By the time you go back, the impulse might have gone.

And don’t forget, don’t go to the supermarket hungry. I reckon I can easily add another $50 to my shopping bill every time I do this — I want to buy everything!
3. Cook from scratch. Sometimes it’s the last thing you feel like doing at the end of a busy day, but the more we cook from scratch, the healthier we’ll be and the less we will waste.

It’s just as easy to cook a lot as a little, so save time by doubling up. When cooking, say, a bolognese or a curry, make more than you need and freeze extra portions for later use. Then, when you have a busy day ahead, you can just reach into the freezer for a ready-made, home-cooked meal for dinner.
4. Use leftovers. One of the best ways to cut down on food waste is to get creative with leftovers, but we have become so concerned about bacteria that we are throwing away more food than necessary. 

However, provided you follow strict hygiene rules, it’s OK to save most foods for the next day. Refrigerate or freeze anything you want to save straight after cooling, checking that your fridges and freezers are set to the right temperatures. 

Either eat leftovers cold or reheat them thoroughly. Many meals are perfect for lunches the next day, at home or at work.
5. Use that fruit. Once fruit is overripe, before you throw it away, consider adding it to juice, a smoothie or muffins — overripe bananas and berries are great for this.

If you have a glut of lemons or limes, freeze the juice in ice cube trays for use later on.
6. Reserve wine. I don’t go quite as far as Lawson and drain the dregs of my guests’ wineglasses, but there’s no need to throw away not-quite-empty bottles of wine — I can’t bear to think of good wine going down the drain. 

Put the bottles back in the fridge for the next few days or freeze them for giving sauces and stocks a flavor boost — again, ice cube trays are useful for this.
7. Freeze it. Having a good-size freezer is one of the best ways to help you save food and leftovers. If you can, invest in a size that’s appropriate for the size of your family or buy a stand-alone one if you think you will use it. Always ensure it’s set to be cold enough.
8. Get organized. Organizing your food cupboards and kitchen pantry is a good way to stop wasting food. There’s a reason there is such a jar craze right now — they are so useful. Buy or recycle airtight storage jars and have everything visible so you don’t end up doubling up.
9. Avoid unnecessary packaging. So much of our waste comes from the packaging our food comes in. Some of it can be avoided by shopping at markets or food co-ops where you can take your own bags and jars for food. It’s a little extra work but worth it.
10. Give it to the chickens. Of course, not everyone has the space for chicks, but if you do, feeding them leftovers is a great way of recycling food — you feed them scraps; they give you food back. How good is that?
11. Or give it to the worms. Worm farms are so useful, because you don’t need as much space as for chickens or compost. Worms can be fed lots of different organic waste, and those clever little critters will, in turn, give you back one of nature’s richest fertilizers — in liquid form and in nutrient-rich castings.
12. Get growing. With all those rich castings, you’ll want to grow some vegetables — even if you don’t have lots of space. If, like me, you’re not a natural gardener, start with growing some easier vegetables, such as spinach. Do some research, find out what will work for your climate and location, and you’ll feel duly rewarded once you have the pleasure of eating at least some food you grew yourself.

Houzz guides to growing fruits and vegetables
13. Enlist help. Get the whole family involved in the waste-reduction drive. Start them growing food early and being aware of the natural life cycle, and that will become part of the daily routine.

See how a family built their own raised planting bed
14. Grow herbs. Wasting herbs? I plead guilty as charged; I don’t know how many times I’ve found them rotting at the bottom of my fridge, but less so now that I’ve got a few herb gardens and pots.

Herbs are great things to have on hand to reduce waste, as you often require only a snippet here and there, rather than a whole packaged bunch from the supermarket. They can also be grown by anyone, because it’s possible to have a small herb garden, or pots, on a windowsill even in a small apartment. I find parsley, rosemary and mint particularly easy, but it all depends on the individual conditions, especially heat and light. You may easily grow what I consider to be more difficult herbs, such as basil and coriander.

Plant-by-plant guides to growing herbs
15. Compost. Having a good composting system means you can recycle all manner of kitchen waste and, in turn, you can keep your veggie garden well fertilized — and that’s one less thing to buy.

Get on a Composting Kick (Hello, Free Fertilizer!)
16. Sort your waste. Modern day pullout bins have all kinds of systems to organize your waste. As well as helping you to sort between recycling and normal waste, many of them now have different bins for things such as compost and chicken feed.
17. Consider composting your own waste! Perhaps the ultimate system for reducing — or converting — waste is the composting toilet. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re building a home from scratch, especially in a rural area, using a composting toilet is a great way to break down waste in the most natural way possible. 

This one even manages to look pretty glam.
18. Upcycle. Find ways to use things around the home rather than throw them out. This room is a great example — 1950s newspapers found at this home became wallpaper, and an old dresser became the bathroom vanity.

There are thousands of ways we can repurpose things — I got sick of buying new wrapping paper for my children’s friends’ birthday presents, so I started wrapping them in the brightly colored pages of old magazines. Who cares if the parents think I’m too stingy to buy wrapping paper?
19. Turn old clothes into chair covers. For those good with their hands or people who can sew (sadly, not me), saving old fabric is a really useful way to reduce waste. These ingenious chairs were reupholstered with old children’s clothes.

Learn how to re-cover a seat cushion
20. Buy long-lasting things. When purchasing new things, it’s often a good idea to heed the adage “Buy well, buy once.” It can pay to buy the best you can afford rather than buying cheap things that may break down and, because things often cost more to repair than to replace, end up being thrown in the trash. Check the warranty of a product before you buy it — if it has a five- or 10-year warranty, chances are, it might actually last that long.
21. Sort your wardrobe. The same principles as sorting our kitchen cupboards can be applied to our clothes — if we regularly take stock, declutter and know what we have, then we will be more likely to buy only what we need. 
Source: HOUZZ.com / Liz Durnan

Christy Peterson Headshot
Phone: 774-287-5322
Dated: November 7th 2014
Views: 942
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