Updated: Sep 6, 2020
There are many ways to reuse vegetable and fruit scraps rather than throwing them away. Many people don’t realize the effects that tossing away organic scraps has on the environment, so here are some of our favorite ways to reuse our vegetable and fruit scraps! 1. Compost is a very important way to reuse scraps. Composting is when organic matter naturally decomposes into a soil-like material that is full of nutrients. When vegetable and fruit scraps are thrown away and tossed into landfills, they do more harm than one may think. Food waste is one of the biggest contributors to landfills, and this leads to pollution and other environmental problems. The organic matter and food scraps in landfills can lead to methane being produced, which is more harmful than CO2. Composting is a solution that can be done in an easy, non-smelly way, and for those living in apartments or small spaces, we have a solution for you as well: freezer composting!
Food scraps and other organic material can be placed in a reusable or recyclable bag or bin and stored in your freezer until it is full. Once the bag or bin is full, find out where you can drop off your compost locally. Paper bags can be dropped off at compost sites as well, which makes it a mess free alternative. You can learn about what is and what is not compostable at your local compost drop off, but generally, meat, cooked food, oil, bread, pet waste, and dairy products are not accepted. Material like fruit and vegetable scraps, egg and nut shells, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags and loose tea, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, used paper towels that are not soaked in oil, and used matches are all acceptable to compost and will lead to healthy, nutrient rich soil! Composting organic material is a safe alternative for our environment, which helps to fertilize our soil, allowing our plants to thrive even more!
2. Making homemade vegetable broth is another great way to use vegetable scraps in addition to composting. Storing vegetable scraps in a freezer will also allow you to have them on hand for whenever you want to make vegetable broth. This is another great way you get more use from your vegetables. To make homemade vegetable broth, use a tablespoon of oil, a myriad of vegetables, herbs, spices, and tomatoes and heat a large pot over medium heat, add in the oil and the veggies, and once they are sauteed add in the water, herbs,and spices and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring to a simmer and stir the ingredients together then cook for about 45 minutes to an hour to deepen the flavor. The longer it takes the more flavor you will get. Once done, strain the broth to remove all the vegetables, and the leftover vegetable solids to your compost bed, add freeze your homemade broth to use in many different recipes. Some vegetables are better to use than others, and it is suggested to avoid using cabbage or brussel sprouts. Onions, onion skin, garlic, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and leeks are all great vegetable scraps to use in homemade broth.
3. Planting the scraps. As talked about in our Connecting with Plants During COVID-19 blog, we talk about different vegetables that can be regrown from just their scraps. Some of our favorites included lettuce, cabbage, bok choy, celery, carrot greens, garlic, chives, avocados, tomatoes and potatoes. This is a fun activity since it is exciting to watch your plants grow. This also helps to cut down on your food waste while providing you with more vegetables!
4. Making homemade jam is another great way to use food scraps. Fruit peels are great to use for homemade, delicious jams and jellies. Apple peels and citrus fruits are full of pectin, which is the substance that makes jellies and jams sticky. You can boil apple peels and lemon skins with water for 30 minutes, then add in sugar, and you can even add in chia seeds for extra nutrients, and boil this mixture for an additional 10 minutes. You can use other fruit scraps as well such as mushy berries, peach skins, grapefruit peels, and orange peels. After cooking, put the jam in a sealed jar or glass and place in a cool water bath for 10 minutes. Jams can be stored in a sealed jar or a glass.
5. Make a homemade house cleaner using citrus peels and distilled white vinegar. Every time you peel an orange, save and collect the peels for future use. Submerge the peels in vinegar inside a sealed jar for at least two weeks. To make carpet cleanser, you can combine 2 cups of baking soda with citrus zest, citrus essential oil (optional), and store the mixture in a glass jar to sprinkle on your carpet. You can also use peel infused cleaners to make degreasers, polishes, and other all-purpose cleaners. 6. And lastly, DYE your clothes! Read more about natural tie dye in our previous blogs, Natural Dyes and Connecting with Plants During COVID-19. Check out these blogs to learn how to use scraps in unique ways!
There are so many different things you can do with your vegetable and fruit scraps so that you don’t just toss them away! We love finding new creative ways to use scraps that benefit us and the environment!