Food waste Friday and weigh ins 51 & 52

Filed in Blog by on May 22, 2009 10 Comments
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Some of our food waste for one week

Some of our food waste for one week

This is a true confession of a disorganised woman. Prepare to be shocked. I was.

There’s a mighty mountain of food waste this week. After my fall and subsequent ‘sitting-on-my-arse-with-my-leg-in-the-air-for-a-few-days’ scenario and relying on Mr Green to feed himself and Little Miss Green, sadly, we created lots of food waste.

The last thing I felt up to was standing or sitting in the kitchen preparing vegetables and Mr Green’s culinary skills tend to begin and end with the can opener.

I tend to get caught out this time of year too. Temperatures increase and I forget that leaving things out at room temperature is no longer advisable. I’ve really noticed this week how much quicker fruit and vegetables are going off.

Time to start making more use of fridge space I think.

All in all, we’ve wasted:

  • salad waste – about a bag full of it. For compressed, slimy salad, that’s a lot of food.
  • a decomposed courgette and 7 wrinkly beetroot.
  • 1 portion of cooked rice
  • 1/3 tin chickpeas
    1 mouldy banana
  • 1/2 red cabbage
  • 1/4 pint chicken fat
  • 1 punnet blackberries
  • dish of oats, blackberries and grapes – mouldy
  • 2 sprouting, wrinkled potatoes
  • 1 cooked jacket potato (with mould)
  • 1 rotten apple
  • some yellow broccoli; not yellowing, yellow
  • 1 yogurt pot cooked vegetables
They were once a courgette and some beetroot

They were once a courgette and some beetroot

To add insult to injury, I found half a tin of beans and half a tin of spaghetti,which had gone mouldy, lost in the back of the ‘fridge. I remember opening them at the beginning of the week with strict instructions that they were to be eaten up.

Geesh, can’t a woman have a couple of days off from life without all sorts of mischief happening?

But that’s not all – the birds have been feasting on dry cake and cheese bits too.

I did quickly assuage my guilt by rescuing some other items from their fate. I found a sprouting onion, some yellowing broccoli and some cheese that one of them had put in the cupboard instead of the fridge – uncovered **sigh** It was rock hard.

True to Mrs-Green-is-recovering-well-thank-you style; they found it in their soup.

Interestingly, it was a great soup. A soup that once again led Mr Green to believe I had shopped at great expense in some posh shop. Amazing what you can do with a little creativity and heavy hand of garlic and herbs!

But of course, we don’t buy posh soup any more, after this mishap.

This week’s food waste was a real eye opener. I called my beloved family to the kitchen and presented the wasted food to them on the kitchen work surface. We could have started a small catering business and we all felt terrible.

When Little Miss Green saw it, she took a sharp intake of breath. When Mr green saw it he said ‘”Oh God, I’m so guilty this week …”
but you know, it isn’t about guilt or blame, it’s about awareness and learning from our mistakes.

I felt dreadfully guilty too, despite the fact the vast proportion of it can be composted; that really isn’t the point. It was decent food that was allowed to spoil and become waste. Waste that we created when some people cannot afford to eat every day. When I read that the average family throw away one third of the food they buy each week; it seems incomprehensible. I’ve often wondered how they actually do that …

Well now I know.

However, one feeling was a kind of celebration – It was clear that I do more than I think I do surrounding our food waste every week. I feel bad for throwing out half a bag of salad most weeks and think I should be doing more, but I obviously *am* doing more! A lot more! without even realising what I am doing or how I’m doing it.

Blackberries wearing green fury jackets

Blackberries wearing green fury jackets

It also goes to show that if I’m not in the kitchen, keeping on top of things then the natural laws of decomposition are just waiting to party. I don’t know what the answer is to this – if I’m away from the kitchen, then what can I do? How do you all manage this one? turn into a nagging wife or are your partners / kids naturally handy in the kitchen area?

I don’t want to give the idea that Mr green is a waste of space in the kitchen, but it’s simply not his domain. He doesn’t enjoy it and he’s not particularly good at it. If I’m not up to cooking and he’s prepared to give LMG a tin of soup for tea, then, to be honest, I’m just grateful that she’s taken care of.

I know that she wraps him around her little finger in the kitchen when I’m not there too! That dish of blackberries and grapes with roasted oats was a left over breakfast from earlier in the week. I said she could eat it the following day for breakfast or for pudding after her next meal, but once I was out of the way flat on my back, she left the fresh fruit and tucked into crisps (Daddy said yes) instead. Smart girl – who wouldn’t do that at eight years old?!

The third thing is that food waste can create packaging waste. Usually, we rinse out the plastic bags and recycle all that we can from items like salad. Once it’s gone slimy, there is no way to hygienically or sociably do this; so the packaging has also ended up in landfill and contributed 30gms of this week’s weight.

On to the weigh ins. The landfill container wasn’t emptied or sorted last week, so this is for two weeks. We have:

  • 2 dried mango bags
  • lentils pack
  • 8 crisps bag
  • sticky plastic from grapes (goodness knows why I didn’t take them out and buy them loose!)
  • rice cakes pack
  • cheese wrapping
  • sponge scourer
  • clingfilm from emergency broccoli purchase
  • sticky plastic film that came on an item in the post
  • 2 dried bananas bags
  • cellophane from chocolate outer
  • plastic bag containing chicken – the butcher didn’t have naked chicken this week
  • Hard plastic packaging from chicken legs – on offer in the supermarket, too good to resist for the cat **hangs head**
  • film from curry tray
  • couple of ‘miscellaneous’ pieces of plastic from packaging
  • blister pack from painkillers
  • 5 plastic bags from gone off salad – far too stinky to deal with and wash hygienically.

All in all it weighs 115 grams. For two weeks rubbish, I’m very pleased!

After my huge confession I want to be inspired by your wonderful selves – how little food waste have you created this week? Don’t forget – if you blog about your food waste, then join in with Kristen, over at her fabulous frugal girl site and share the link love.
Dare I or shall we just keep it amongst ourselves?

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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 (10)

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  1. Hang on a minute….did you say week 51 and WEEK 52. I think more congratulations are in order, beyond your slim bin Mrs Green. Happy anniversary to you all. Time files when you’re having fun don’t you think. 😀 x

  2. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Competing a full year of Zero Waste is a great effort despite setbacks of various kinds. The truth is that you are the main reason for the family’s success. My food waste this week is minimal as usual. If unable to shop due to injury, let’s not go there!

    Joking aside, Reduce has emerged as a big saver of waste. A toothpaste tube, jar of basil, a malt vinegar bottle and sunflower oil bottle all provide waste at end of use. Minimising the quantities from each lengthens their timespan of use. These are all recurring items, vinegar for 6-8 weeks of the herring season, so Zero Waste Alternatives are worth finding to further reduce waste.

    Are you planning a different approach for year 2, in terms of time until emptying?

  3. John Costigane says:

    Another recurring item was rubber gloves, Mrs Green. I always managed to puncture one with a knife, fork or can rim when washing dishes. This has been avoided for about 10 weeks so far by changing washing technique. Always take cutlery by the handle and can by the uncut base. There have been near things but the problem seems to be cracked.

    When one was punctured, always a left hand, I resorted to inverting an old right hand one.

    This is a means of waste reduction but fits no current ‘R’ category. How about ReAssess? It is difficult to name having an approach like Systems Analysis.

  4. Considering you were out of action for nearly aweek that is very good going!!

    I know here as well if DH does any cooking there is always more waste and more washing up to contend with.

  5. Deb from Boston says:

    First and foremost – Happy Anniversary!
    In my own house, while attempting to pack lunches for the youngest two, pulling out too many leftover containers to count – and discovered that many are over a week old. What is odd is that there are extra mouths at home this week – oldest home for 1st year at college, and 2nd home because school is closed due to the H1N1 virus and an outbreak in sickness with “flu like symptoms” – So I would think that there would be less food, not more left over. This morning I empted 5 containers of misc. food without even trying to clean the fridge.

  6. Marie says:

    We’re so bad for food waste. It makes me ill. What bothers me the most is expensive meat that’s gone bad after being packed for someone’s lunch. I have a “solar digester” so at least the meat waste doesn’t hit the landfill. But still.

  7. Mrs Green says:

    @Almost Mrs Average: Mrs A; I can’t believe it either. I’m obviously a week out somewhere, because we actually started on 2nd June last year. But what’s a week between friends?

    @John Costigane: John, do you have to buy vinegar in plastic? We can get glass bottles here, but perhaps I am misunderstanding the issue you face. At the beginning of this calender year, we set a challenge that our bin would not be emptied until the end of this year. So far so good, with between 1/4 and 1/3 full; but there is still Christmas to come, which can bulk the waste.

    Regarding rubber gloves; I’ve given up using them. I just use Ecover and it seems gentle on my hands, so I don’t need gloves. In addition I use bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and lemons for cleaning; so again, no harsh chemicals on my skin. Like you, I found them to be very thin and they would contribute considerably to our waste.

    @maisie dalziel: Thanks Maisie, it felt like a lot to me, but that’s a good thing isn’t it? It means progress has been made along the road because a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have even thought about it.

    @Deb from Boston: Thank you Deb. I hope you resolve the mystery of your food waste and that there is nothing serious going on in your child’s school with regards to the flu virus.

    @Marie: Hi Marie! You can reduce your food waste with baby steps. Have you read our article with our tips on food waste? You can find it here. I know what you mean. I can compost a lot of our stuff, but it still feels like waste.
    You can view the article here; it’s one of the most popular articles on the site:
    http://mzw.wpengine.com/articles/food/how-to-reduce-food-waste/

  8. John Costigane says:

    @Mrs Green: Mrs Green, The vinegar is in a glass bottle with a plastic stopper and clear plastic dispenser/dropper in the bottle’s neck. It is minimal waste but worth reducing all the same. Ecover products are good on the hands, as you rightly say, but I do not have the full range yet.

    The year’s challenge is going well for you with the prospect of reduced waste during the summer, where more fresh seasonal produce is available. Christmas has now plenty of Zero Waste options and these should increase. Easter was excellent and maybe the Christmas chocolate will get the Zero Waste treatment. We can only do our level best to promote these better choices.

  9. @John Costigane:
    John, forgive me if I’ve got this wrong.

    I buy a 5ltr jug of white distilled vinegar approx 2-3 times a year.

    I refill my glass table bottle from this, and use it for all my cleaning that I use vinegar for and any pickles/chutneys I make.

    Now I know these jugs are plastic type 2 hdpe, but I can recycle these in my kerbside collection.

  10. John Costigane says:

    @maisie dalziel: Hi Maisie, That saves the plastic stoppers from the glass vinegar bottles building up. Reuse is always a good option. My vinegar use is mainly for the short herring season, 6-8 weeks. Reduce will help in that 3 meals rather than 2 can be done from a single bottle.

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