Thursday, April 10, 2014

eco-lent: week 6

Surprisingly enough (not really!), the book I've been using to find suggestions for challenges for my eco-Lent project wasn't written for the purpose of Lent, so I've run out of weeks in that book. I knew this would happen and figured something new would come to me, and it did!

This week I'm going to focus on food waste. Upworthy highlighted a website called Shrink That Footprint the other day, and it's a really well done site with lots of good graphics, short and readable articles, and how-to videos. (If you don't know about Upworthy, you should sign up! Its goal is to send us some good news, since most news seems like it's bad.) Shrink That Footprint has a page called 5 Simple Ways to Save Food. I'm going to work on these this week.

Some highlights:
  • Americans waste about 12 pounds of food each week, totaling around $18
  • Worldwide, we waste 1.3 billion tons of food (see graphic, where the trash can is the relative size it would be, in scale with those buildings)
I was about to launch into why it's important to not waste food, but I think that will have to wait for tomorrow because this post is going to be too long. So for now, here's a video that introduces the topic of food waste:

You can sign up for the YouTube channel and watch videos for all the tips in his 3 week program. He suggests weighing your food waste so you realize how much you waste, planning your perishables so you don't get more perishable food than you can eat at a time (including using a menu planner), perfecting your portions so you don't make more than you need, shuffling your storage in your fridge so you can see the food that's going to need to be eaten soonest, and dedicating a day each week to working on a creative meal where you use all the stuff in your fridge that's about to go bad.

These are all really good tips, and I'd add a couple of my own: first, own chickens! When you own chickens, you can feed them a majority of your food scraps. (Well, it's a majority of our food scraps, anyway, because I'm a vegetarian so we don't have a lot of leftover meat. If you eat a lot of meat, I don't think that's probably good for the chickens.) The rest of our food scraps go into our compost pile. There are different kinds of compost: throw everything in a pile compost, hot compost, worm compost, and probably others. The best one is hot compost, because you don't have to worry about keeping worms alive. The one we currently use is the "throw everything in a pile" method, which is all well and good, but takes much longer than hot composting.

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