Each person throws away 1 pound of produce a day and 4.6 pounds of trash a day.
That is a lot of produce and trash going to landfill unless you are one of few who composts at home. Since we have employed low waste living in our household, we are down to about one small bag of trash a week. The ideal of all your trash fitting into a jar may not be realistic for all of us who work full time, have family and other obligations. But together we can all do more to reduce what we send to landfill and increase what we compost.
And in super exciting news, the state of California has introduced a new law that requires households and businesses to compost all food scraps, instead of throwing them into the trash. This will help us reduce what goes to landfill and decrease greenhouse emissions because when food breakdowns without oxygen it produces methane which escapes into the atmosphere.
In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40% of the food supply. This estimate is based on the USDA’s Economic Research Service of 31% food loss at the retail and consumer levels.
While much of the waste occurs at every stage of production and the supply chain, we as consumers can do a lot to ensure we do not waste food at home and specifically vegetables and fruit. Here are a few simple things you can do immediately to reduce throwing away or rather composting 😉 your produce.
- Employ a first in first out methodology at home. Eat what is ready to eat now and save less ripe items for later
- Do your research on how long certain food items are good after the sell by date or how long specific pieces of produce tend to last. For example, many things like milk can be good up to a week after the sell by date
- Once it looks like it is maybe past its prime, you still have lots of options. Roast it, make a soup, juice it, blend it, freeze it, make broth
- If it is beyond use or you have no time, we get it! Compost it! Composting reduces waste, makes us less dependent on landfills, and decreases greenhouse gas emissions helping to reduce climate change
- Finally, properly store your produce to ensure it stays fresh as long as possible. Here are a few examples:
- Leafy greens- All leafy greens thrive in an airtight container. Alternatively use a Vejibag which is made of 100% cotton. Wet the bag and then place the greens inside. This works for many produce items
- Broccoli (and asparagus)- Stand broccoli heads in water to keep them fresh long. They both like a bit of moisture
- Tomatoes- Best left on the counter and last about a week
- Potatoes – Store in a cool, dark, dry location like an open paper bag. To avoid sprouts, store your potatoes with an apple. Always cut off sprouts and green spots before cooking
- Ginger- You can peel, cut and freeze your ginger so it is ready for easy use later
- Carrots- Cut the greens off the carrots and store in a covered container with water and remember to change the water every 4 or 5 days. This will allow your carrots to stay fresh for up to a month!
- Onions, shallots, and garlic- Should be left on the counter in a cool dry place. Punch holes in a paper bag to store. And if you still have some pantyhose hanging around, you can store your onions in the pantyhose, tying a knot between each onion
- Avocado- Leave them on the countertop to ripen, and to halt the ripening process, transition them to the refrigerator giving you 3 more days
- Apple- Apples will have the longest shelf life (up to two months) in a refrigerator. But take care not to store them with other produce as they release ethylene.
- Bananas- Hang them in a dark and cool room for making them last and should be kept separate from other produce unless you want them to ripen. Once ripe you can get a few extra days by putting them in the refrigerator. Once they are brown, make banana bread 😊 And here is a link to the recipe: https://replenishgrocers.com/easy-one-bowl-banana-bread-recipe/