Part of the Cariboo Regional District’s Solid Waste Info Series:
How much of your garbage is food? The average Canadian family wastes approximately 275 kg of food every year; for the Cariboo Regional District this equates to over 6,800 tonnes of food waste per year.
It is estimated that $27 billion in Canadian food is annually disposed of in landfills and composters, creating methane and carbon dioxide as it decomposes. Over 50 percent of this food waste is generated by consumers in the home. Not only is the food itself being wasted, so is the energy, water, packaging, and human resources that were used in the production, transportation, and storage of the food.
Only about one fifth of the food waste disposed of in the home is made up of peelings, cores, and bones. The rest is disposed of because it has gone bad, too much was cooked or prepared, there is a lack of confidence to use leftovers, or the expiry date has passed.
What can you do to reduce the amount of food waste in your home?
Planning ahead for meals will make a difference, as well as choosing to eat perishables that have the shortest shelf life first. Eat asparagus before broccoli, ripe bananas before apples, and the lettuce and cucumber before the carrots and potatoes. Did you know that tomatoes should not be stored in the fridge? But, if they ripen too fast you can put them in the fridge to slow the ripening for a day or two, same with bananas.
Use leftovers soon and try using them in a different dish like wraps, salads, or on top of pizza. Freeze foods that you know you aren’t going to eat in time and then use them in chilli, soup, or stew for vegetables and meats or in baking, deserts, or smoothies for fruits.
Consider eating parts of fruit and veggies that you usually don’t. Did you know that the inside and top portion of broccoli stems can be grated up and added to salads or coleslaws? Organic apples, carrot, potato, and yam peels are all edible; wash them up and include the vitamins and minerals they contain in your meals.
If you find yourself throwing away the same items week after week, stop buying them. Or buy smaller portions. Many purchase groceries by habit, rather than by what is needed; try making a list at home to make sure you know what you need.
Composing is better than landfilling, but composing still creates carbon dioxide, and should only be used for the parts of fruit and veggies that are not edible. Landfilling food waste creates methane gas, increases landfill leachate production, takes up space in the landfill, costs money to transport, and wastes the nutrient content of the food.
Waste wise education is delivered to students in the CRD, but the CRD would like to make waste education available to everyone, as we all have the ability to change our waste handling habits for the better. For more info on Waste Wise call (250) 398-7929 or find details on Waste Wise activities and events at www.ccconserv.org.
Please join us this year to become waste wise and make a difference. For direct access to our monthly topics “Like” us on facebook at facebook.com/caribooregion, check outcariboord.bc.ca, or look for our articles in your local paper.