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Aug 08.27

Reduce, Recycle and Reuse: Kitchen Scraps

Posted In: LUSH Life >> Green

LUSH Kitchens are teeming with produce and fresh plant material like herbs and flowers--all of it delivered weekly to meet the demand for creating the freshest cosmetics possible.

Naturally, after the floral infusions are steeped, and the citrus rinds are squeezed of their last pulpy bits--there’s a pretty massive pile of compost each day, collected by local organics recycling agencies. There are 31 million reasons to compost kitchen scraps at home, too--that’s one reason for every TON of food added to US landfills each year. Canadians and Americans alike waste up to half of the food produced in North America. It’s staggering and hard to imagine all that stinky, steamy composting garbage, weighing our planet down. And yet, we have to do something with the dinner plates that need scraping, and of course, all the meal prep scraps. They are adding up, and mounting each year.

It’s time to put all those kitchen scraps to work. Here are 10 ideas to recycle or repurpose scraps that are otherwise, well, scrapped in a landfill. Double bonus? Saving money at the same time you reduce your kitchen’s footprint:

1. Consider portion sizes and pay attention to how much you make for each serving, and how left-overs are stored for later. Starting with less helps us end with less.

2. Shop as locally as you can. By connecting with your local Farmer’s Market, you get seasonal produce from people in your area, which helps the planet and your local economy. The reduction in plastic packaging is considerable, as well as the chance to engage with your local community and even bump into friends. If you shop at a grocery, ask where your produce comes from. Has your food traveled farther than you have?

3. Start a kitchen herb garden with what you already have. Store fresh cuttings off of basil, lavender, rosemary and mints standing upright in a glass jar or vase, with enough water to cover the bottom few inches of stems. Keep them in a bright spot full fresh air, and change the water regularly, every few days or so, which will help ward of root rot as the brand new shoots emerge from the stems. Once they are several inches long themselves, transplant into healthy soil to keep on growing. Many of your food’s “scraps” are useful in the same way, as this article on The Green Cycler shows. Dozens of plants can be propagated from the parts we usually discard with a bit of time and effort. Some are slow-growing, like celery and pineapple, but others can quickly repay your original effort, like most heads of lettuce, or even exotics like lemongrass stalks.

4. Similarly, you can also blend hydroponics with kitchen bonsai by keeping roots and bulbs alive in small dishes or cups. Covering just an inch or so of their bases with fresh water that’s changed every few days, you can keep them viable and even producing new shoots. You might not ever have to buy things like scallions or fennel again.

5. When you are cooking, collect all of the fresh produce scraps in a bowl, keeping out any meat or dairy. When you have a good bit collected, make a compost smoothie for your home garden or indoor plants; they love the fresh boost of nutrients, you close another loop in your kitchen.  

6. Enroll in your municipal food recycling program, if there is one, to have your scraps collected. This is easy to do and just requires remembering to take the compost to the curb. If you don’t have one, get curious with local government and find out what’s stopping it. Your energy and curiosity could bring a solution with a major positive impact to your community.

7. There are a range of compost resources and ways to creatively make use from your scraps in a garden or patch of outdoor space around your home or office. Or, save them up in a barrel to routinely donate to a friend’s heap or a community gardening effort. In North America, the website can help make a local connection for you. Sure, a compost heap doesn’t smell like roses, but the resulting product will help your neighborhood roses!


8. Keep the meal going for other creatures. You can vermicompost with worms, or work up the food chain even further if you keep pet livestock like Shama Alexander, LUSH’s Green Officer and dedicated “home-foods girl” feeding pet chickens, goats and a pig, along with her human family. Aside from obviously needing adequate space and resources for anything involving other creatures, Shama advises “to consult a veterinarian and/or other resources to find out what types of scraps are appropriate to feed to individual species of animals. Contrary to popular belief, animals should never be fed rotting or moldy foods. Acceptable foods range from species to species. For instance, pigs should not ever be fed meat or by-products. The exception to this rule would be a pig that eats grubs/worms when he's rooting up the land (like my pig does)! My pig is vegetarian, although an omnivore, and he gets a small protein ration through peas, beans and other high protein foods, to keep him healthy. Alternatively, chickens can occasionally eat fish which can add beneficial Omega-3s to their eggs. All of our animal waste goes into our massive worm compost to become fertilizer for our veggie garden.” It’s a huge commitment, but for pioneering people like Shama and her family, it is possible with the right mindset, resources and dedication.

9. Before you buy something for someone, think of making them something using your own talents and resources on hand. A lot of unnecessary objects are gifted each year, taking up space, and might eventually get thrown out, destined for landfill. Take your next batch of herb sprouts or succulent offshoots and plant them in a cute arrangement as a gift that is made with love, not purchased. Your time and energy are the best part of the gift. If you truly don’t have a crafty bone in your body, look for unique local offerings, often at your Farmer’s Market excursions! The less we waste in our kitchens is great; the less we waste everywhere is even better.

10. Use LUSH products (or give them as thoughtful, low-waste gifts for your friends!) We recycle our scraps, too--all of our Manufacturing facilities and home offices recycle all organic matter we can, from the fresh produce, herbs and flowers we use in our products as well as from the lunch rooms. Our shops make use of organics recycling where it is available, as well. Using LUSH means less packaging and overall waste is brought into your home, win-win for everyone and the planet.

There are obviously way more than 10 things we can do to reduce our personal impact on the planet, especially in the kitchen, and since we have to eat daily to survive, this is a great place to increase our efforts. We’d love to hear ideas to add to the list--and the unique ways you have put your own scraps back to work.