Lately, we have been trying to make a conscious effort to produce less waste in our household. The amount of additional packaging produced these days is excessive, with plenty of research painting a grim outlook at the effects of not only producing this plastic, but also in disposing of it.
While recycling when and where you can can help, the better option here is to try not produce as much waste in the first place. Unfortunately, plastic and other packaging has a great benefit – it’s convenient. And therefore when trying to reduce the amount of packaging, it can take a little more time and effort.
I’m sure there are a lot of resources out there for those of you who are interested in taking this a little further, but here is what we have found the easiest to adopt in our house.
We put together a worm farm a few years ago, and while this has worked well for us, we find we produce a lot more organic matter each week than what the worms can deal with, so we are looking to upgrade to a bigger system.
We try to do this everywhere where possible – we reuse takeaway containers and wash and dry out plastic bags. While it would be ideal to remove these completely, there are instances where we obtain them (case in point, B’s weekly Indian takeaway indulgence), and therefore we try to prolong their life as long as possible once they’re in our possession.
We also reuse small jars to house spices, and smaller amounts of nuts and seeds, and larger containers to store nuts, seeds, flours etc. I also often use the larger containers to take chia puddings, porridge and soups to work in.
Bottles I store and pass on to Mum who has been given the job of chief kombucha brewer – the bottles end up making their way back to us filled with the delicious probiotic beverage.
Other bottles are used as vases for small clippings I collect from farmers markets and friends gardens.
While my not-so-subtle suggestions to B to reduce his beer intake – or brew it at home and reuse the bottles – has fallen on deaf ears, the one thing I can control is the amount of waste I produce myself, and as the grocery shopping and cooking duties usually fall to me, this is where I have been making cuts.
The main thing I have been doing is reducing the amount of canned food I’ve been buying. Mostly, this has been canned lentils and beans which I’ve started to make from scratch. A little more effort yes, but the benefit hasn’t just been the reduction of aluminium cans floating around our recycling bin – the flavour and texture of the legumes is much better when made from scratch.
The other thing I’ve been making an effort to do is to use all of our vegetables and fruit where possible. Any peels or scraps go to the compost, but most of our veggies we try to use all of. Anything looking like it’s nearing it’s end date will be made into a soup and then blended, or chopped up raw and frozen to be used in cooking later on.
Coriander roots are frozen to throw into stocks anthe d curry paste, broccoli and cauliflower stalks are thinly slices and fried in a little oil and garlic. And the greens attached to our carrots, beets and other root veggies are thrown into soups or made into pesto, as I’ve done here.
This dish I made for a recent Food Photography + Styling workshop – unfortunately I only managed two shots in amongst teaching and chatting with the participants, but the dip was met with rave reviews so I really wanted to share the recipe here – I hope you enjoy it as much as you do :)
What measure to you take to reduce waste in your own home? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
- 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 cup cooked (or canned) white beans or chickpeas
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, peeled crushed
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Water, to thin
- 1 bunch carrot-tops (greens), washed and roughly chopped
- ½ cup loosely packed coriander (cilantro) leaves
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast to make vegan)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 2 heaped Tbsp roughly chopped cashews
- ½ cup olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Preheat over to 210 C || 410 F
- Add carrots to a lined tray and bake 25 - 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Remove and allow to cool completely.
- Once cooled, add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well combined, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. If the hummus is too thick here, add some water or extra olive oil a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is gained.
- Taste the hummus and add a little extra salt if needed.
- To make the pesto, add all the ingredients except for the olive oil and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped. Pour in the olive oil and pulse a few times - careful not to over-process here.
- Taste and add more salt accordingly.
- To serve, arrange the hummus on a plate or bowl, and spoon the pesto over the top.
Lauren Kennedy says
I love that you have used carrot tops here to reduce waste. I once tried to use celery tops in something but they were just too bitter ha. Beet leaves I find are okkkkkaaay if mixed really well with another salad, but I have to say my use of tops hasn’t been all that successful so far!
You guys are doing amazing to reduce waste! At the moment, all we do is recycle, not let any food go to waste, re-use bags, jars and bottles, take our own bags to shops and try to pick the produce without any packaging. I need to work harder to find other ways to reduce and re-use in apartments… I need to get a small food compost bin for all our scraps!
Katie @ Whole Nourishment says
What a wonderful duo of dips. I can almost taste them looking at the pictures.
And great ideas for reducing waste. I loved the stories about B. ;-) And I especially agree with cooking beans and lentils from scratch for all the reasons you mention. It’s the things we do everyday/week that creates the most waste (when beans are a staple like they are for us that would create a lot of tin cans) vs the things we do only on occasion.
Oh Thank you! I loved your dip and even though I recreated my own version, it’s different so it’s good to have both! It is interesting how close my version is to yours – I must send it to you when I get a minute – I think the main differences were that I used some basil and walnuts in my pesto instead of coriander and cashews. I loved your reminder about reusing and cutting back on waste. I plan to really focus on this over the next couple of weeks while i’m on holidays. Cheers x
Cassie Autumn Tran says
This looks wonderful! And producing less waste sounds wonderful for treating our environment better. I’ve been trying to recycle and reuse bags a lot more!