He’s making a list… and checking it twice… but Santa is always watching. How do we make sure we stay on the nice list even after the holidays pass? We’ve got a tip that the big guy is paying more attention to eco-friendly habits these days. Arctic environments, including the North Pole, are especially susceptible to climate change.
Jokes aside, the conversations on being environmentally conscious around the holidays usually revolve around consuming less and whether a fake or real tree is better. While those topics are important, we want to put the spotlight on food waste as well. Canadian families throw out 25 to 45 percent more garbage around the holidays, with a majority of that being food waste. Not only does that mean that the resources and labour that went into producing that food is now wasted, but when food ends up in the landfill it rots and produces methane which is a major climate-change causing greenhouse gas. Depending on where you live in Canada, your municipality may or may not offer local composting services.
That is why it’s more important than ever to pay attention to your food habits and take simple steps to reduce your household waste. This will save you money and also hopefully prevent that icky monthly fridge cleanout where you find a cucumber that isn’t looking so green anymore…
1. Store leftovers properly
Most meats, vegetables and even cookies will freeze quite well for up to a few months! My family froze an extra apple pie from thanksgiving and pulled it out for Christmas. To my surprise, it tasted just as good and saved us the trouble of making a new dessert. If you don’t have much freezer space, try to dole out leftovers to loved ones you shared the meal with or neighbours that may appreciate a home-cooked meal.
2. Learn how to revive imperfect food
Have you ever looked at your wilted celery, stale bread or overcooked vegetables and felt guilty but had no idea how to make use of them? There are easy steps to keep that food from going to waste.
- Wilted: soak floppy carrots or other wilted veggies in ice water to rehydrate and crisp up
- Stale: chips and crackers can be toasted in the oven to re-crisp. Stale bread can be toasted into breadcrumbs or used in a post-holiday stuffing mix!
- Overcooked: if you’ve overcooked your veggies, save them in the fridge and puree into a soup or sauce for your next meal!
3. Get inspired to repurpose commonly wasted foods
We all have that one item in the fridge that seems to never get fully used up. For me, it’s leftover rice and vegetable stalks and tops. Love Food Hate Waste Canada has a helpful campaign that shows five ways to use up your food waste foe.
- For veggie stalks and tops, they suggest making pesto or vegetable stock, juicing it, pickling or topping onto a stir fry.
- For leftover chicken and turkey, the ideas include adding to soup, freezing, making stock and adding to a salad or curry.
- Another common culprit is overripe bananas that can be used as an egg replacement in baking, in smoothies, frozen for later use, blended up into ice cream or dried to become banana chips!
Their website has many more ideas for everything from cheese and avocado to milk and strawberries.
4. Meal plan
This one can be a bit out of reach for a lot of us that live unpredictable lives. But making a loose meal plan and grocery shopping around it ensures you at least have an idea of how you’ll use what you’re buying. This can be a good one to add to the new year’s resolutions list as well!
This is the last installment of our 7 Rs of Zero Waste series. The final step in the hierarchy is rot - when food and other natural materials are sent back to the earth to decompose and hopefully regenerate the soil or the environment with their remaining nutrients. By avoiding food waste, we can minimize the use of this last step.
Tradle embodies this principle by prioritizing brands that make clothing with natural fibres. At the end of a garment’s life, if it is polyester (aka plastic) it will break down into microplastics and further pollute the environment. Natural fibres like wool and cotton can one day break down and go back to the earth with minimal impact.
The simple decisions of what goes on our grocery list and what clothes we buy can add up to make a significant impact on the environment. We believe in individual action mixed with collective action, so please share any other eco-friendly habits you’re resolving into the new year! By working together, we can make lasting and sustainable changes.