Reduce, Reuse, Replenish

thank the earthWays you can thank – and give back to – the earth

Life on our planet depends on our natural resources and how we manage them. The earth beneath our feet provides 95% of the world’s food, is a habitat to billions of vital organisms, and stores more carbon than all the world’s atmosphere, trees and plants combined.

So, how can we stop treating the earth like dirt and start giving something back to this precious resource?

Reduce food waste.

Food connects us – we all need to eat to survive. The food choices we make every day are impacting our planet, but we often don’t think about where our food has actually come from, how it was produced or who produced it.

Food waste is a massive problem. A recent UN report revealed that a shocking 1.4 billion hectares of land is used to produce food that is never eaten. That’s roughly a third of the world’s total agricultural land area!

It can become a habit, buying more food than we need at supermarkets, letting fruit and vegetables spoil at home or taking larger portions than we can eat. But when we waste food, we waste the labour, effort, investment and precious resources (like water, seeds and feed) that has gone into producing it (not to mention the resources for transporting and processing it).

By making small changes to our daily habits, we can all do our bit to save food from going in the bin.

Tips for minimising food waste

1. Get creative with your leftovers – If you don’t eat everything you make, freeze it for later or use the leftovers as an ingredient in another meal. Soups, curries and tortillas are all great recipes. Find leftover recipes at Wrap’s Love food, hate waste website.

2. Embrace your peelings! – Who ever decided that we should peel our vegetables? There are so many usable parts of produce that we consider “waste” but are actually very good for you. Carrots, beetroot, potatoes, parsnips and squash don’t need peeling – simply scrub them clean before roasting in the oven to enjoy the tasty skin which is full of fibre and goodness.

3. Swap fresh for frozen – without compromising on quality, taste or nutrition, bulk frozen packs are often cheaper than fresh and allow you to use just the amount you need for each meal.

4. Avoid over-buying with multi-buy offers (unless you have plans to use the extra food)

5. Wonky is still wonderful – Don’t judge food by its appearance! Oddly-shaped or bruised fruits and vegetables are often thrown away because they don’t meet arbitrary cosmetic standards. Don’t worry – “ugly” fruit and vegetables taste the same! Use mature fruit for smoothies, juices and desserts.

Reuse around the home

1. Use coffee grounds to clean your kitchen – Mix coffee grounds with some soapy water, use a sponge to scrub the mixture on your kitchen counters and see the stains disappear! Coffee grounds are mildly abrasive and won’t damage your kitchen counters. You can also use the mixture on dirty dishes and cooking hobs.

2. Clean your taps with lemon juice – If your taps are covered in limescale, cut a lemon in half, rub the juice over the taps and leave it overnight. In the morning, wipe the juice away with a damp cloth and behold sparkling, shiny taps!

3. Clean your pans with eggshells – broken up into pieces, eggshells are a fantastic natural and gentle abrasive which are ideal for cleaning the scrambled egg pan!

4. Save empty jam jars – Washed and cleaned (pop them in the dishwasher) jars with lids can be reused as handy food containers.

5. Turn your tins into plant pots – simply make a hole in the bottom and get potting up! They’re perfect for growing herbs on the kitchen windowsill.

Replenish our earth – enrich or support healthy soils

1. Eat local and seasonal food – Everything we buy has a carbon footprint, either in the way it is produced or in how it is transported, so buying from local producers and buying less is better. Eating and cooking seasonally available fruit and vegetables can reduce your carbon footprint (it’s also fresher, tastier and more nutritious!).

2. Avoid single-use plastics – Plastics are poisoning our planet with micro-plastics being found in just about everything (even in our food!). Choose compostable bin liners, metal water bottles and other more eco-friendly options.

3. Composting – it’s nature’s way of recycling! The process of composting lets fungi and bacteria break down decaying organic material faster so the nutrients can return to the ground for plants to use. If you have a garden, composting your food waste at home creates nutritious mulch that your plants will love! If you don’t have a garden, use your local council food waste collection to keep it from going to landfill.

4. Mix your used coffee grounds in your compost – This will improve the soil structure and can help in repelling pests. Being rich in nitrogen, coffee grounds are a great additive for acid-loving plants.

5. Plant native species in your flowerbeds or flowerpots – Live in harmony with your bioregion! Native plants will be best suited to the climate and soils of your local area and will attract insects and pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Visiting a local farm is a great way to help you feel more connected to your food and the people who grow it. No matter how old you are or how much you know about agriculture, spending time on a farm can inspire you – and your children – to taste new foods and get creative in the kitchen.

Between 21-29 October, you can visit the Earth Trust farm Pumpkin Patch and pick your own pumpkins and squash straight out of the ground. See our events page for more information.