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What do to with Kitchen Scraps: Reduce, Compost, and Re-Grow

growing plantsYour kitchen trash has a significant amount of organic material. Much of this is compostable. Hauling organic matter off for landfill internment or incineration is a huge waste of energy and potential. Can kitchen scraps be re-grown into new food plants easily? What can you do to reduce the production of kitchen scraps and wasted food? Can composting help?

Re-Grow Plants

You can save money and perpetuate the chain of life by re-growing plants. Cutting vegetables in a certain way and cultivating the clippings results in new baby plants. These can be eaten and they are free.

Chop the bottom off celery and place in a bowl with a small amount of warm water. Place in direct sunlight. When the leaves start to thicken and grow on the base, transplant to the soil in your garden, greenhouse or container.

Left-over whole lettuce, cabbage and Bok Choy leaves can be placed in a bowl with a very small amount of water in the bottom. Place in sunlight. Mist the leaves with water every other day. In three to four days, roots will appear. Plant in the soil.

avocado sproutAnyone who is tired of paying $3 for an avocado can grow unlimited avocados at home. Wash the pip and stick toothpicks in to suspend it over a jar or bowl. Add enough water to cover the bottom 1″ of the pip. The pip needs to stay warm, but do not place in direct sunlight. Add more water each day or two, because it will evaporate. After six weeks, you should see stems and roots. When the roots reach 6″, cut them down to 3″. As soon as you see leaves, transplant the pip into soil, so that the pip sticks half way out of the ground.

Whenever you plant, condition the soil by adding organic compost. This can be made a home for free by composting with worms. You can do this indoors or out, year-round.

Compost Your Left-Over Kitchen Scraps

Plants naturally want to break down to simpler components. These components, in turn, can fertilize the next generation of plants. Composting is a great way to reduce waste and help the environment. To get started, order composting worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. We recommend red worms for composting. They are ideally suited to break down organic matter quickly. Also choose a composter or make your own. One batch of red worms can last many years, because they reproduce under the right conditions. Find out more about composting and see our Live Worms page.

Reduce Kitchen Scrap Waste

Most plants have inedible parts, such as apple cores, lettuce bottoms, stems, etc. These are cut off with a knife, either while being process or in your kitchen. Buying bagged lettuce cuts back on scrap volume, but the inedible pieces were left behind during industrial preparation. Reducing kitchen scraps actually means:

Not Wasting Food

If you are healthy cook, you are buying plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Or, you are buying the prepared veggies from the fancy part of the produce section. Either way, you are in danger of throwing out sad, spoiled food that wasn’t used in time.

The smart workaround is to plan out your meals for the week. Subscribing to a zero-waste meal service such as Hello Fresh is one option, if you can afford it. Otherwise, use a pencil or an app to plan each meal for the week. Most grocery store chains have an app that highlights current coupons and specials. If you like to go out to eat, pick the days and mark this down too. Then prepare a shopping list. Plan to use up everything. For example, if you need shredded lettuce for Taco Tuesday, have a salad on Thursday Spaghetti Night to use up the extras. Plan out portions so there are no left-overs.

Considering the vast resources that go into growing, transporting and selling food, it is shameful that we waste 1/3rd of the food available in this country. Help break this trend by planning ahead.

As a steward of the environment, you can save a lot of money by making small changes in your cooking and kitchen habits. Planning ahead reduces wasted food. Composting breaks down scraps into valuable, free fertilizer. And re-growing plants makes new food, for free. Making your kitchen more eco-friendly is fun…and tasty!

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