Saturday, 26 July 2008

Waste nothing!

As a society we are incredibly wasteful. I read an article the other day that showed the UK threw out everyday, over one million usable pots of yoghurt and over one million apples. I did have the figures for the number of sausages thrown out but I can't recall what it was. It was, pardon the pun, a jumbo figure. This level of waste is completely unsustainable. We simply cannot continue being so wasteful.

The easiest way to cut down on waste going into the waste stream is to get a compost bin. And start looking on waste as a resource rather than rubbish. Food scraps should go into a compost bin. But there are some waste foods that are still usable before they get to be compost.

Meat bones can be boiled for stock. If you don't want to boil them immediately, simply put your chicken carcass in a plastic carrier bag (another waste product!) and then place in the freezer. Boil up at a later date perhaps when you have more bones to add to your collection.

Chicken stock is a good base for soups and one I am planning soon is nettle soup. More about that at a later date.

Apple cores and the skins of citris fruits have a useful purpose before they finally end up in the compost bin. Put them into a plastic bag and store in the freezer. Add to the bag until such point as you have enough to boil up for making jelly. Then you can put the pulp left over from this into the compost bin. We call the jelly we make this way "compost heap" jelly!

Years ago, when I kept rabbits (I haven't kept livestock for quite a few years now) apple cores etc all got fed to the bunnies. But if you do keep livestock, much uncooked kitchen waste is an important source of fodder.

Other waste that can be converted into a useful resouurce is paper and card. Most councils collect paper for recycling, some collect card as well. My council in Gateshead collects only paper. My house in London is in Bromley where card and paper are collected. However, using as much of it as possible in a way that avoids it going into the waste stream (even for recycling) is better for the environment. So we put much of our cardboard and some paper into our compost bins in our gardens in both Sunniside and London. Make sure any paper and card is mixed up with wet waste to make it rot quicker. If you put in quite a bit of paper, pour into the compost bin a few buckets of (waste) water. My bath water ends up either on the plants or into the compost bins.

And finally, never throw out jam jars. If you are heading for self sufficiency, you will need lots! My colleagues at work also give me empty cava and champagne bottles, useful for making homemade champagne.

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