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Slim My Waste – Happy Kitchen: Tips for cutting your food waste 

Community Engagement Officer at Bristol Waste Company Gemma Annan shares some of her personal waste-changing achievements and explains the ‘Slim My Waste – Happy Kitchen’ campaign.

Now, more than ever, we need to build a healthier relationship with food by respecting the food we buy, the food we already have, and the food we throw away.  

At Bristol Waste Company we are excited to roll out Slim my Waste – Happy Kitchen, the second phase of our successful campaign Slim My Waste – Feed My Face. 

Slim My Waste – Feed My Face, has seen an incredible and sustained increase in food recycling in Bristol of 23% – an undeniable a win for the bin. But, we have further to go: almost 26% of the contents of the average general waste bin is still food! 

Most of the food thrown away is avoidable; whether it’s a loaf of stale bread, mouldy veg or unwanted dinner. Whatever it is, with savvy planning, shopping, storing and cooking, this unnecessary food waste can easily be avoided. 

This year our Slim My Waste – Happy Kitchen campaign will concentrate efforts on social media to reach residents at home and encourage everyone to really think about the food they buy, how to store it and how to avoid it ending up unused and in the bin. 

My waste-changing discoveries  

Like many of you, I’ve had to adapt to working from home during the UK lockdown. I’ve found this has given me slightly more freedom with the food I eat, which could easily lead to bad habits, but with a little self-discipline, I’ve maintained a routine of making a weekly lunch plan, preparing meals in bulk and enjoying ‘if-it’ lunches: if it needs using up, use it!  

I’ve spent this time exploring what can be done with my unavoidable waste and some of my discoveries have been pretty interesting. I’ve learnt onion skins are super-nutritious, so now I bung them in the saucepan when cooking rice, drink onion skin brews (trust me, it’s not as bad as it sounds), and soak them in water to make plant fertiliser. 

Gemma’s banana burger from a recipe by Nadiya Hussain

I’ve also had a go at making banana peel burgers (verdict: delicious!), regrowing my carrot tops, and adding citrus peels to vinegar for a homemade house cleaning liquid. A word of caution: if you plan to eat the outer layers of bananas or any other fruit and veg, scrub them well first, particularly if they’re not organic. 

My biggest tip would be to pay attention to the food you are throwing away: aim to keep the salvageable foods aside in a tub and look up alternative uses. For things that aren’t salvageable, consider how it could have been avoided; could you have frozen the cooked pasta, mashed potatoes, eggs or bread? Could you have pimped up your wilting lettuce or spinach into a yummy pesto? Did you really need to take advantage of that 2-4-1 offer? 

Onion skin tea

Being really being aware of what you are buying, using and throwing will help improve yours and the planet’s relationship with food. For more tips on how to keep food out of the bin, follow Bristol Waste on our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as we share our top tips to a lighter food caddy. 

The Bristol Waste community engagement team have had to think of new ways to engage whilst working from home, so I’ll be producing the occasional video to support home-based learning around the reduce, reuse and recycle theme. Keep an eye out for them on our social media channels over the coming weeks, particularly if you have young people at home to educate and entertain! 

Do you know someone who would benefit from additional help and support to reduce their food and general waste? 

We’re looking for people who need help reducing their waste to take part in our 2020 Waste Nothing Challenge. The #WasteNothing Challenge challenges you to strive towards a zero-waste lifestyle over the course of a year. The 2019 participants produced 22% less food waste than the average Bristol household!  

If you are interested in learning more about the 2020 challenge, go to the Bristol Waste website and register your interest.

Gemma Annan is a Community Engagement Officer at Bristol Waste Company.