Your stomach is your number-one composting option! No, don’t laugh. I am serious! If you want to compost, EAT! By making sure to eat leftovers and finding creative ways to use those foods we might otherwise toss, you are avoiding the need for a compost bin! Don’t get me wrong, there will probably always be food items we need to compost and so a compost bin is important, but being a conscious eater can make a huge difference.
Let’s start with the basics.
Restaurant waste is a huge issue. Many people, including myself, have fallen prey to leaving piles of food on a plate that’s taken back behind the counter when we leave. It’s not a mythical place though, behind that counter, where everything is properly recycled and composted. Rather, the majority of time everything that you leave on your plate is thrown in the trash. Therefore, the first rule is: ORDER WHAT YOU CAN EAT.
This leads right into rule #2: BRING A CONTAINER FOR LEFTOVERS. I’ll be the first one to admit that I have a bird stomach and don’t always finish what I’ve been dished (so rule #1 is more of an ideal). If you bring a container for leftovers, there are a variety of plus sides you get to enjoy. First off, you don’t have to risk that the restaurant only provides Styrofoam containers. Also, there is more food for you to eat the next day. And finally, you save money by actually eating what you have paid for! I know this takes a little forward thinking but if you get in the habit of keeping one or two containers in your car, it doesn’t take much to stash one in your purse when you walk in.
Rule #3 is a little less specific: BE CREATIVE. In saying that, I mean that you need to find ways to use the food spoiling in your house before it is too late. For example, I recently bought some heavy whipping cream for a cheesy noodle recipe I was curious to try. A week or so later however, I discovered that the leftover whipping cream that I didn’t use was going to expire within a day or two. Now, I didn’t have any plans to have whipping cream in any of my recipes but I also didn’t want to have to throw it out (in my curb-side compost bin). I decided instead to make a smoothie and replace the milk with whipping cream! I added a little vanilla extract for taste and, magically, I ended up with a delicious, creamy smoothie to enjoy! In addition, tomorrow I am planning on making some red sauce for pasta in order to use up some very squishy tomatoes in my fridge. See? It doesn’t have to be anything crazy! The downside to this is that sometimes you may need to cater your food eating habits to what is in need of eating in the fridge. Sometimes this can be very healthy for you, and other times it can leave you drinking whipping cream smoothies! J But hey, it has taught me to make sure I buy in portions I can eat rather quickly!
With that, I conclude with rule #4: BUY WHAT YOU CAN EAT. In restaurants, we can’t normally help the portion sizes and that’s why we need to come prepared with leftover containers. In grocery stores however, we have almost complete power over the quantity of food we purchase. Please, be conscious of how much you are buying. If you notice that a certain veggie ends up getting thrown out half way through the week, there is no shame in buying less! I am sure the grocery store checker will not judge you harshly for downsizing!
So are you hungry yet? I know I sure am after writing about all these food thoughts! Go out then and use your stomach to save the world, one bite at a time. It’s your built in compost bin!