With Thanksgiving behind us and fridges full of leftovers, it’s time to talk about food waste…and how to prevent it. First- let’s make sure we all know that we can’t recycle food in the recycling bin. When food does end up in the Sioux Falls recycling single stream, it’s bad for the process and bad for the other recyclable material that it contaminates.
So, how can we reduce the amount of food that goes in the waste stream? Here’s a few tips:
- Scrape your Containers – To prevent contamination in the recycling stream, scrape out the remaining food in your cans, tubs and jugs. It doesn’t have to be spotless, but use your best judgement. We always say “Empty of Food Waste and Liquids”, meaning dump out any liquids before it hits the bin, and make sure there’s no big chunks of food left. Scrape out as much as you can- rinsing is not required.
- Compost Scraps – Start a compost pile for your kitchen scraps, plate waste and spoiled leftovers. When you can avoid putting this type of waste in the garbage, you prevent methane from being produced in the decomposition process, which is a highly potent greenhouse gas. Check out this handy guide from the City of Sioux Falls on how to start your own backyard compost.
- Love your Leftovers – Leftovers can get boring… so think ahead and plan some exciting meals for the unused food. Check out this list of creative dishes including spicy cranberry salsa and turkey fiesta soup! You can also freeze leftovers if you can’t use them in time, check out this handy guide on how to store and freeze food to prevent waste.
- Use Your Nose – The sell by, use by, and best before dates often refer to when food is freshest, not when it is safe to eat. These dates are actually used for stock-control at the grocery store, not so much for our health. Use your own judgement to determine if food items have passed their consumption point, noses are a handy tool!
- Donate Food – Organizations like Feeding South Dakota are happy to accept your unspoiled perishable food or nonperishable food for their guests. Check out their website to find locations you can drop food at.
With Christmas around the corner, let’s start planning on how to reduce the waste before it’s even made! How?
- Plan your Meal Carefully – Do a headcount and plan your menu before your meals. This will prevent over-purchasing which will save your wallet and prevent over-cooking to reduce your food waste.
- Avoid Special Ingredients – Special holiday recipes may call for specific ingredients that will only be used for one dish (herbs, cream, veggies, etc). If you don’t have a plan to use the remainder of the special item, it can lead to waste. If possible, make a plan to use up the remaining item for a 2nd or 3rd dish, or avoid it in the first place.
- Practice Portion Control – We are all guilty of over-eating at the holidays, and usually our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. Using smaller plates for your guests will encourage people to take less on their first round which will prevent wasted food, and they can always come back for seconds for the good stuff.
Check out our handy Where Do I Take This Tool for a complete list of where to take odd items for proper recycling or disposal. If what you’re looking for is not on the list, ask us! We’ll help you find the best disposal option in our area.