Reducing our food waste can be difficult. Understanding the impact it has on our finances and also on climate change can certainly spur us on, but adopting a few simple changes can make a big difference. One thing that has really helped my family, is the ‘Bin Swap’.
For years, I had a small lidded tin bucket, labelled ‘Compost’, and a very large kitchen bin. A tip picked up from Bea Johnson’s book, ‘Zero Waste Home’, was to swap the two over. This makes much more sense and better reflects what we want to achieve in my family. Our aim is to minimise our ‘landfill waste’, compost as much as possible and recycle everything that can be recycled. The small tin bucket, aka ‘the landfill bin’, now lives in a cupboard under the sink and the large kitchen bin which is easily accessible, is now labelled ‘Compost’.
This has made an amazing difference to our waste and in particular, our food waste. With three children, one of our main sources of food waste, was food left on plates. It was too easy to simply scrape the plates into the bin. Now, however, everyone is more conscious of eating everything up. If food can’t be finished, we have adopted the principal of saving it for later rather than throwing it out. Storing untouched food in a container in the fridge makes a lot more sense and is more economical. It often serves as lunch for someone the next day. This has by far had the biggest impact on our food waste. We have even managed to go entire weeks with absolutely no food waste at all.
The other big advantage to our ‘Bin Swap’, is that the whole family is now mindful of putting waste in the right place. I realised that with only a small compost bin, no one else ever used it. Now, the children are quickly learning what can be composted, what can be recycled and are taking responsibility and getting involved. Yesterday, I noticed my six year old ripping up an empty cardboard toilet roll and dropping the bits into the compost bin. It has also helped keep a better compost mix of wet and dry. As well as vegetable peelings, we realise there are many other things that can be composted, from tea bags to plain cooked rice & pasta, mouldy cheese and paper egg cartons, to used facial tissues, dryer lint, hair from your hairbrush, shredded documents, sticky notes, the contents of your vacuum cleaner and used matches. The list goes on. The fact that we are coping fine with a small ‘landfill bin’ tells me that previously, we were mindlessly throwing a lot more rubbish into the large kitchen bin, that could actually have been composted or recycled.
I now know that the key to success for reducing food waste, composting more & recycling is complete family involvement, helped greatly by a simple ‘Bin Swap’!