Food waste Friday (on a Saturday)

Filed in Blog by on June 27, 2009 25 Comments
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Mrs Green's very sad brown banana

Mrs Green's very sad brown banana

You’ll forgive me for being late with our Food Waste Friday post this week. After a week of decluttering the past 10 years of our life, I’m a bit behind. I’ve also got rather a small behind after burning off all those calories with lifting, sorting, dragging and decision making.

I posted yesterday about our need for creating zero waste convenience food and it’s gone pretty well. We’ve eaten ok and no one is claiming starvation or neglect; apart from the cat who has my reusable box ready for me with instructions for getting to the butcher before he closes today.

The photo at the top of this post shows the total food waste for this week. Yes, Une banane is all we have. I’m all for using brown bananas for smoothies or banana cake, but honestly; would you eat that? Would you even try to peel it, knowing full well that you would end up with sweet smelling sludge stuck under your fingernails and in your hair?

So off to the compost bin our banana went, where it’s probably degraded into some fine soil food already.

Did you know that roses LOVE bananas as much as monkeys do? Yep, if you don’t have a compost bin, but have some roses, then bury your bad bananas and all your banana peels in the soil around the roses.

How did you get on with your food waste this week? Don’t forget to share your story with Kristen, over at the Frugal Girl.

I’m off to take a peek in the landfill bin and will post up our rubbish for this week later.

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (25)

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  1. Alea says:

    Great photo!

    Thanks for the tip on feeding the roses. I do compost, but after reading a post about feeding coffee grinds to pine trees at Frugal Creativity I am thinking about being a bit more specific and create different compost mixes to meet the specific needs of the plants on my property.

  2. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    It is so easy to overlook items, like the banana, shown but the composter is useful in such situations. at this time of year the compost shrinks, for the nearly full over winter to less than half, despite more additions of fresh fruit/veg scraps in the summer heat.

    Talking about heat the latest stage of growth in the 4 leading Sweet Basil plants is the leaf/branch growth. The full-grown characteristic form is still a way off but this development is ace.

    Roses are my best shaded plant. Bone-meal fortifies the plant and roses. Poured round the surrounding soil and then hoed to complete.

    Slugs have enjoyed my early planted kale. I may just keep in pots for the latest group just to see the normal growth pattern. 2 lettuce plants are enjoying the hotter weather. They maybe more successful at a later germination, as you indicated in another topic. The beauty of seeds is that germination can take place over an extended period in the spring/summer mainly.

    2 plants have been passed to family, both still with initial stalk growth. Another is planned for my young brother. I will show him repotting as this is part of the process. Anyone given a plant will be helped, if needed.

  3. Charity says:

    Very impressive Mrs G!

    We’ve done better than usual here. I’ve been working on using cupboard things up so the fridge has been emptier than usual, making it easier to see and remember about leftovers. I’ve been stricter about things like yoghurts and fruit puree pots too, making the kids finish the last couple of spoonfuls of the previous one before permitting a new one the next day. I have also been making the effort to check my Abel and Cole order every weekend so I know what’s coming in my box and can amend the rest of my order as necessary. One day I might even manage proper meal planning…

  4. Layla says:

    great to see just one banana, lol!! πŸ™‚

    great pic!! πŸ™‚

    Oh & thanks for the tip about the roses! had no idea!!
    /I suppose it applies mostly for eco bananas though? better not have pesticides etc in the soil?/

    must read of ZW convenience food & looking forward to hear about your trash too!!
    It’s been more than 6 months now, no? You’ve broken the record!! πŸ™‚

  5. Lol at your picture!

    I’ve had bananas that were too far gone even for banana bread….and I composted them too. Sometimes it’s just not worth it to try to salvage it, especially if it can be composted.

  6. Poppy says:

    Possible future waste problem!

    I have an issue which I would like to run past Zero Waste readers.

    My macho men won 3 coconuts on Saturday! 3! What on earth do I do with 3 coconuts?

    Number One has been broken, the milk was drunk by Mr P and he and I tucked into one boken piece (Master P decided he didn’t like it …. grrr!), but that still leaves me with at least 2 and half πŸ™

    Also the issue of the shell from the one we are using – what do we do with that?

  7. Layla says:

    Poppy, there are lots of recipes with coconut ‘milk’ or grated coconut or such..

    I don’t personally know any of them, but I know they exist! πŸ™‚
    Indian recipes for exotic dishes or such..

    also, once we had a coconut when I was still a kiddie & afterwards Mum or Dad put some spirits into it, to make some sort of – brandy? not sure how good it was – if it’s good at all – it’s something we did though..
    & I have to confess we talked our little neighbour into tasting it, thinking it was ‘real coconut milk’ – not exactly proud of it, but it was a funny moment!! πŸ˜‰

  8. Carole says:

    @Poppy: What I’ve used coconut shells for in the past is to make them into bird feeders for use in the winter when there’s not much bird food around.
    Save the shells till winter, then: With half a shell; drill a hole in the rounded end, knot one end of a piece of string several times and feed it through the hole so that the knot is on the inside and you have a length of string on the outside to hang it with. Melt some solid cooking fat, mix in nuts, dried fruit, seeds, bread and cake crumbs etc, pour into the shell and refridgerate until re-solidified. Hang in the garden from a tree or similar. The birds absolutely love it.

    And as mentioned above, there are recipes for making coconut milk out there on the Net. Great in curries etc.

    Cheers!

  9. Great to see this website grow and grow and here about it in allsorts of places – huge congrats for getting the message out there – I am wondering what you think about the kitchen composters – I added a bit to my blog today – See:
    http://ruscombegreen.blogspot.com/2009/06/brook-talks-microbial-soil-conditioners.html

    Of course reducing kitchen waste is crucial but could these be a better solution for some rather than food waste collection?? All the best – Philip

  10. John Costigane says:

    Hi Councillor Booth,

    Bokashi bins are an expense to householders which means only the extra keen, like Zero Wasters, will use them. Food waste collections for AD is a very worthwhile practice giving methane for energy production, in a closed environment. If all councils did this, and other food waste sources joined in, no food waste would end up in landfill/incineration. Thta is surely a good thing and a sustainable source of power.

  11. I do agree that kitchen and other organic waste should go to local anaerobic digestion as prefered by DEFRA and as illustrated on the front of the Gloucestershire Waste Core Strategy – giving compost and useful gas which could power dustcarts and more. However I am wondering about transport costs and carbon in the future – especially with peak oil – you may have seen:
    http://ruscombegreen.blogspot.com/2009/06/video-what-is-peak-oil.html

    I have seen costs for kerbside collection per house at Β£45 annually – would need to confirm – but if so that would pay for a Bokashi? I would be interested in seeing a proper trial.

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @Alea: Hi Alea, thanks for the tip about the coffee grinds – I never knew that. Great to swap tips πŸ™‚

    @John Costigane: Hi John, sorry to hear about the kale – I should have sent you some of my magic slug collar deterrents! I know what you mean about the compost, it almost seems to get to work as soon as something is thrown in there in this heat!
    Good to hear of your other successes in the garden; I have a story about pumpkins to share soon!!

    @Charity: Brilliant Charity; you’ve made some amazing changes. I love the tip about checking what is in the Abel and Cole box before it arrives. I don’t meal plan; it doesn’t work for us. But well done with your progress!

    @Layla: Hi Layla, yep, we’re at the end of our sixth month and the bin is 1/2 – 2/3 full. Mr Green will have a go at compacting it and we’ll see if we get through to the end of the year. I have my doubts without MORE lifestyle changes!

    @[email protected]: Hi Kristen; I’m afraid I do draw the line at a banana like that. I’m sure some purists would have risked an unpeeling ceremony, but not I!

    @Poppy: Don’t quote me on this Poppy, but I’m thinking you could feed the coconut shells to the birds over the winter and when they have had their fill and the shells are drying out, could you use them as a fuel for a summer BBQ? Just a thought!

    @Cllr Philip Booth: Hi Phillip, welcome back – good to see you again. I have to know where you have heard about MZW – you say ‘in allsorts of places’ and now I’m intrigued! πŸ˜€

    Regarding kitchen composters; I think they are fine for those who will go to the effort. It requires a continual purchase for the bran, some people do not like the fermenting smell and then of course, you need somewhere to put the contents afterwards. Also, they take a little tweaking to get things just right – not too wet, compressing things, that sort of thing which, for many can put them off trying.

    Bokashi type systems are fine for people with compost heaps, but not for those without. There ARE solutions, such as donating the contents to a friend or community composting project, but only people interested in doing their bit will go to that effort; don’t you think?

    From a personal point of view, I think they are great, but I’m just not sure they are for the masses. Generally, from my understanding of human nature, people want they easiest option to landfill, which might be a kerbside collection.

    I do feel that composting is best done at home, it seems a far better option

  13. Poppy says:

    @Cllr Philip Booth:

    I have a compost bin, a dog and two cats that between them deal with 98% of the food waste we produce!

  14. I agree most food ‘waste’ can be composted – and if you have pets/animals then there is usually little left – there is a lot to do in terms of attitudes to buying food and in the way food is sold (mainly by supermarkets with their offers of 3 for 2 etc) – but it is finding the best way to tackle food waste – kerbside collections with eg AD are a large part of the answer but I am interested in reducing transport costs as Peak Oil will mean they become v expensive in the future – if more folk were to use say a bokashi system then lots of work would be needed to change attitudes – but then that is what we are all trying to do to encourage Zero Waste.

    Have folk out there got experience of using the systems? I am not convinced they are the answer to all but it could be part of the answer??

    http://www.reducereuserecycle.co.uk/greenproducts/bokashi_kitchen_compost_bucket.php
    http://www.bokashibucket.co.uk/
    http://naturalcollection.com/products/straight/all-waste-kitchen-composter/

  15. Mrs Green says:

    @Cllr Philip Booth: Hi Philip; I agree we need education to bring about a shift in attitudes.

    People who use the bokashi system are john Costingane, Mrs A from the rubbish diet and I think Carole now has one as well – they may come along and answer any questions you have.

    Other brains to pick are over at wiggly wigglers – they are the experts πŸ™‚

    Could Community composting with provision for food waste be a future ‘transition town’ type idea or is there too much involved?

  16. Carole says:

    @Cllr Philip Booth: Hello, yes, Mrs G is right, I set myself up with not one, but two Bokashi bins a few months ago now. So far one has been fermented and emptied onto my fiance’s compost heap (then rinsed out with hot water and bleach as the smell was quite indescribable). It does ferment everything down fairly well, and I mixed it in with his fairly rotted compost.

    I myself don’t have a garden, but hate food waste, hence the Bokashis which take a lot more food scraps/peelings etc than my old small peelings bin did…and it means I can compost bones, meat etc which I couldn’t do before. My second Bokashi is almost full and will be going up to my fiance’s to be left for two or three weeks to finish fermenting while I start filling the clean one.

    There is no getting away from it, when opened the bin does smell. When sealed it is fine, no odour at all. The liquid that drains out from the bottom is EVIL, I had to scrub my hands about five times, the last time with more or less neat bleach, when I accidentally got some on myself. I store a day or two’s worth of peelings, scraps etc in a reused icecream container and it goes into the bin last thing after the evening’s washing up has been done. This way the bin only gets opened once every other day or so depending on how much food waste there’s been.

    I think you do have to be a pretty committed Zero Waster to carry on with the Bokashi system (which I am going to do). Also, with the bran, I am almost finished my first bag which came with my bins, but have been researching making my own. There is a video I found on Youtube which seems to explain it pretty well. I need to nip to the local farmer’s supply shop and get what I need to do it. I think it’ll save me some money.

    Positives? No food waste (AT ALL!) as it all goes back into the biosystem eventually. It deals with bones, eggshells, meat scraps, everything. No dirty refuse bin in your kitchen with smelly peelings in. The lid on the Bokashi fits very tightly with an O ring and clip handles so no smell as long as it remains unopened.

    Negatives? Just the smell!! Uses for the liquid are supposed to include plant food (as long as it’s very, very diluted, and drain cleaner! I’ve been pouring mine down the drain. Then following it with a small amount of bleach to kill the smell, then putting my kitchen plug in to keep it down there!

  17. Mrs Green says:

    Oh, fab stuff, Carole. I might pull this out and turn it into an article if I may?

  18. Yes article please! What do others feel about using the system? As noted I would also be interested if there are any local authorities trialling the system even if only with those choosing it? The video mentioned I think is this one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96fSXccQx9Q

  19. John Costigane says:

    Councillor Booth,

    The Bokashi bin is quite small, which is fine for Zero Wasters who mininmise food waste as part of the trend. People with large amounts of daily food waste would fill the bin in 1 day which makes the Bokashi impractical, and really expensive because of the bran use. Home composting is essential to remove the fruit/veg peelings etc. You would have to maximise the composting side before mentioning the Bokashi.

    Your concern over fuel for the food waste cart is overblown, Electric vehicles, gas powered or even horse power could all be used. After all it is simply a bin on wheels with special bags for food waste. The AD part is useful as a source of local power or power to a national grid. Cost is part of this but think of the landfill/incioneration costs reduced by 40%, how much is that?

  20. I do hear what you are saying – the discussion has been v useful and agree AD is great – and indeed may still be the answer in the future but I have to disagree re transport issue being overblown – yes electric/gas vehicles will be poss if powered by renewables but I am not sure the ‘priority’ should be food waste when it can be composted on site. I have just read that Raymond James and Associates say oil supplies peaked in first quarter of 2008 – they are a sober investment company and I am deeply concerned that the impacts of Peak Oil are not being considered. You are probably fully aware of the issue but for others if it is new do try: http://ruscombegreen.blogspot.com/2009/06/video-what-is-peak-oil.html

    In the meantime we need to see more carbon audits – for example I read recently a new piece of research indicating it maybe better to burn cardboard or compost on site rather than take to recycling as many collection and processing systems are not great re carbon savings. As we well know, the issue is confusing and too often confusing messages lead to folk doing nothing – only yesterday someone said to me ‘I don’t bother recycling as it only ends up going to China’ and all the others stuff goes to the incinerators anyhow’.

  21. Mrs Green says:

    @Cllr Philip Booth: There is a lot of confusion over recycling – sorting the facts from the myths – and unfortunately it puts alot of people off.

    In the winter, we use paper and card on the fire instead of recycling; our own energy from waste πŸ™‚

    Did you see the article we compiled during compost awareness week on top tips for using bokashi bins? It might help answer some of your questions

    http://mzw.wpengine.com/2009/05/compost-awareness-week-top-tips-for-using-bokashi-bins/

  22. John Costigane says:

    @Cllr Philip Booth: Thanks for the reply. Philip. The carbon scenario is used to back EfW Incineration. This is purely done to promote their vested interests, against the public interest. Bristol recently threw out the Labour administration, which had backed EfW there.

    AD is not an alternative, but is the first choice from the sustainable viewpoint. Food waste should not be burned or landfilled since these both have very negative consequences, toxic fly-ash being one. Promoting sustainable options would be your best approach, even if the initial cost is high. Again, I ask you – what is the cost saving in reducing landfill/incineration costs due to such food waste reuse? Remember this food waste material has to be transferred to landfill just now using fuel any way.

  23. Thanks for link to bokashi article – and indeed Carole’s comments above – the carbon argument in favour of large incinerators is flawed – indeed I can see no argument in favour of these ‘beasts’ – however it is better when you also include modern heat treatment plants that will yield process heat and electricity – however there are other issues – I totally agree John that food waste should not be going to landfill or being burned – I worded my last point badly – AD is good now as a sustainable solution – but I was talking about longterm future when transport issues become more crucial – can not more of us move to managing more of our waste at home?

    John says “Again, I ask you – what is the cost saving in reducing landfill/incineration costs due to such food waste reuse?’ – I haven’t access to figures but Greens have a volunteer research looking at it at the moment – it should be obvious to waste management gurus – and indeed I am sure it is but as you will know there are also biases in the system like a huge incinerator being an easy one shop solution that is possibly cheaper in the short term – we must ensure that doesn’t happen – however it is clear as this website has shown repeatedly we must maximise the REDUCE, REFUSE, REUSE, REPAIR, RECYCLE, RESKILL, RECONNECT, RELOCALIZE and I’m sure more RE’s if we can think of them…

  24. John Costigane says:

    @Cllr Philip Booth: I misread your thoughts, Philip. Ideally, all homes should deal with their waste to the maximum extent, using the many Rs, as you describe. This is a big challenge particularly from the city/town perspective where paving gardens is all the rage. That is my reason for the focus on AD, since people can reasonably easily collect food waste in the bag/bucket supplied and put out as required.

    The urgency of my backing is also down to the supermarket situation, where plastic packaged food waste is a big percentage of the total. Sending this waste category to EfW is a very convenient option to both parties. I almost feel that not just plastic bags, but all non-sustainable plastic should be banned, for this very reason.

  25. Carole says:

    @Mrs Green: Use as much as my blathering on as you like Mrs G; no worries.

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