Like garden waste, food waste in the landfill is a major contributor to the production of methane gas and leachate. We need to keep it out of the landfill. On this page you can find out how to do that.
The first rule of thumb in the kitchen is ‘buy what you need and eat what you buy’.
According to New Zealand waste and resource recovery organisation WasteMinz’ Love Food Hate Waste bin audit, the average Kiwi family throws away three shopping trolleys of edible food a year – not including things like banana peels, egg shells and meat bones.
So, what to do when we have miscalculated and have food that does have to be thrown out, and with all the extra bits such as the egg shells, banana peels, cooking oil and meat off-cuts.
Firstly, keep an eye on the fridge so you use everything before it goes ‘off’. Most leftovers can be ‘upcycled’ into something yummy. If you can’t think what to do with your leftovers, check out Love Food Hate Waste’s recipe section.
If food has not been eaten but is still able to be frozen for later use, bag it up, label and date it clearly, and freeze it. Don’t forget to use it!
Save vegetable scraps and leftovers into a bag in the freezer to make into stock when you have enough (find a stock recipe on-line); the same with the bones, off-cuts and leftovers of beef, poultry, lamb and seafood (in sperate bags).
If you have extra food in the garden that can’t be frozen, offer it to the neighbours. They will appreciate it and you will have kept it out of the landfill.
If it is too far gone, then the options are compost it or bin it; with bin it being the last resort. Like green waste, food scraps contribute to the mass of ‘rubbish soup’ buried under ground at the landfill, producing leachate and methane gas.
In Hawke’s Bay the acknowledged composting experts are the volunteers at Environment Centre Hawke’s Bay. The team runs composting workshops, can answer questions on the different processes, and can give you advice on the best system(s) for your home.
If you are using a regular composting system for much of your garden waste then you can add things like vegetables and peelings, coffee grounds, tea bags and crushed egg shells. Don’t put meat, bones or fats and oils in your regular compost. If your compost is vermin-proof you can add bread and grains.
If you want to process almost all of your food waste, including the ‘don’ts’ you can’t get rid of in a regular compost, try a bokashi bucket. These specially set up buckets (costing between $50 and $120) turn kitchen waste into ‘soil’ in about four weeks, and they don’t smell. The airtight system ferments food waste, assisted by the addition of a powder commonly made from molasses and sawdust. The only thing you can’t put in is bones.
Worm farms are increasingly popular, taking up little space and noted for their lack of smell and ability to deal with all kinds of waste from paper and carpet to food and vacuum cleaner dust (if you have a natural fibre carpet).
The amount of waste you can add will depend on the number of worms – 250g of worms will cope with about 200g of waste a day. They need 80 per cent green stuff (food/lawn clippings) to 20 per cent brown (leaves and shredded paper and cardboard). They can’t have spicy food, cooked food, bread, pasta or acidic foods. Sorting their menu is worth it though, with worm tea and castings known to be excellent fertiliser.
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