The average American consumer wastes 20 pounds of food waste per month or 240 pounds per year! This amounts to almost 38 MILLION TONS of food waste that we throw away every year as individuals in this country.

Food waste means wasted resources from production and distribution. It also means the use of more resources for disposal, the production of methane (an extremely potent greenhouse gas) as food decays anaerobically in landfills, and that less food can be donated to those going hungry. On top of this, food waste is plenty of organic matter in the form of kitchen scraps from preparing your tasty food that is very easily seen as unavoidable waste. Kudos to you if you are composting your scraps or feeding them to a neighborhood chicken flock, but we are here to talk about some other ways to make use of them.

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Grow Out, Don’t Throw Out

Many of your favorite foods can be grown from scraps of them, as long as you maintain a portion of the plant that can grow roots. These parts include a stem from herbal leaves you plucked off, the root bottom of a bulb like onions, the base of greens or stalks like celery, parts of any root vegetables, or fruit pits and seeds. You can start your own garden just with the food you buy instead of going out and spending big on seeds. If you are going the seed or pit route, we just have to give you a heads up that some varieties of produce like peppers that you buy in the store are hybrids or ill adapted to your climate and will not produce the same fruit you buy at the store. Make sure to do a little research first and have fun!

Stock Up

These same scraps, as well as parts that you cannot regrow from rinds and peels, can be used to make your own veggie stock! Forget buying quarts or cubes of stock at the store that can have all sorts of added ingredients like preservatives. All you have to do is save your scraps in a container that you keep in your fridge (if you are producing scraps to use quickly) or the freezer (if you accumulate a little more slowly). Four cups of scraps can make two quarts of veggie stock. Yum! Some scraps are better than others, and you can create custom blends for different types of broth.

Ain’t Zest the Best?

There are quite a few recipes that call for citrus zest, so why not use the zest from your peels before you compost them? You can even save them by freezing or dehydrating them.

Down for Grounds

After you brew an satisfying cup of fair trade, organic coffee, save the grounds and beautify yourself! These grounds can be used for exfoliating, combatting cellulite, improving the shine as well as color of your hair, and making a cleansing mask.

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A Vinaigrette for the Adventurous

If you are like us, you love bananas, but what do you do with all those peels? Make some vinaigrette. Yes, this sounds a little wild, but trust us – you can do it! Check out this great guide here. All you need is banana peels, a few simple ingredients, and a couple months of patience for some amazing sweet and sour vinegar. Be sure to check out these awesome salad dressings, too.

Remember to think outside the compost bin when looking to reduce your waste and the impact of your food-related choices. We would love to hear some of your other suggestions for using kitchen scraps. Please comment below!

Image source: ursonate/ Flickr

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