Latest environmental reports reveal that every year, people in the U.S alone generate around 34 million tons of food waste. Unfortunately, most of this waste ends up in landfills where it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, contributing to global warming and climate change.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to reduce food waste and lessen our ecological footprint. One of those ways is to upcycle our food scraps rather than throwing them away. The following are nine genius ways to upcycle your food scraps and make a positive contribution to the environment.

What Are Food Scraps?   

Food scraps are parts of fruits and vegetables that typically end up in the trash. These include the inedible parts such as fruit and veggie peels and rinds, pulp, seeds, stems, skins, and stalks. In addition, food scraps can also include by-products of food preparation such as bones, eggshells and coffee grounds.

Benefits of Upcycling Food Scraps   

There are numerous benefits to upcycling food scraps. Not only do we save money by reducing our food waste, but we also save landfill space, protect the environment and contribute to sustainable living. Upcycling food scraps helps keep our landfills from overflowing and reduces the amount of harmful gases emitted into the atmosphere.

In addition, upcycling food scraps helps to preserve and replenish valuable resources and saves energy used in the production of food. Lastly, it can help to reduce water waste, as well as help to create a more sustainable future.

Savvy Ways to Upcycle Your Food Scraps  

  1. Composting: Compost is a dark, nutrient-rich soil amendment made from decomposed plant material. Composting not only allows us to reduce our food waste but also helps us to create a nutrient-rich soil amendment that helps our gardens to thrive.

Simply collect your food scraps in the form of vegetable and fruit peels and rinds, leaves, grass clippings, eggshells and coffee grounds in a bucket or composter. Add water, mix it up and wait a few weeks for your compost to be ready.

Compost also helps to improve soil structure, improves water holding capacity and helps to stimulate plant growth.

  1. Making Stock: Instead of discarding bones, carcasses and trimmings when preparing a meal, why not use them to make stock? Stock is a flavorful stock made from a long-simmered mixture of bones, vegetables, herbs and spices.

All you need to do is place your food scraps in a stockpot and add a few aromatics such as celery, carrots, onions, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. Add enough cold water to cover the ingredients. Bring to a simmer, skimming off any froth that rises, reduce the heat and top up with a little more water if needed. Simmer for 1 to 2 hours and strain.

Stock is a great way to add flavor to your dishes and reduces food waste.

  1. Growing Microgreens: Microgreens are edible plants that are harvested with their roots still intact at their seed leaf stage. Microgreens have high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them an excellent way to add nutrition to your meals. They are also incredibly easy to grow and require very little effort or space.

You can upcycle your food scraps by planting them and growing your own microgreens. Simply place your food scraps such as onion skins, carrot tops, bell pepper ends and lemon peels in a pot and add soil. Sprinkle a few seeds (ideally organic) over the top, cover with a little more soil and water. Place near direct sunlight and keep soil moist. In 1 to 3 weeks, you will have your own microgreens.

  1. Making Veggie Soup: Many of us have heard of vegetable soup, but did you know that you can make a delicious soup from your everyday food scraps? All you need to do is save up your vegetable trimmings and any leftover fruit and veggie scraps, such as broccoli and cauliflower stalks, stems and leaves, peels and ends from starchy root vegetables and fruit peels.

Place the scraps in a pot and cover with stock or warm water (you can use your homemade stock from the previous tip). Add some herbs, spices and aromatics if desired and let simmer for a few hours. Once done, blend the soup until it’s creamy and enjoy.

  1. Making Salad Dressings and Sauces: Creating salad dressings and sauces from your food scraps is another great way to upcycle them. Instead of throwing away the peel from a lemon or lime, why not use it to make a delicious salad dressing or sauce? All you need to do is blend the peels with some oil and vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic.

You can also make pesto or other sauces with potato peels, artichoke leaves, bell pepper cores, kale leaves, and onion skins. Simply blend these ingredients up with olive oil and fresh herbs and you’ll have a flavorful and nutritious sauce.

  1. Creating Sustainable Snacks: You can make a variety of sustainable snacks from your food scraps. Potato peels, for example, can be used to make delicious chips or crackers. Simply cut the potato peels into small pieces, season with herbs and spices and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.

You can also make energy bars and balls from fruit peels, oats, nuts and seeds. Simply blend all ingredients together in a food processor and shape into balls or bars.

  1. Cooking with Your Scraps: Many of us are familiar with traditional dishes such as carrot and celery sticks with Ranch dressing or hummus. But did you know that you can use food scraps in the cooking process?

Carrot, celery, and onion scraps can be used to flavor your next soup or pasta dish. You can also use these scraps to make a flavorful broth by simmering them in a pot of water with a few additional ingredients such as herbs and/or spices.

Fruit peels can also be used in baking. Orange, tangerine, and grapefruit peels, for example, can be used to make a delicious Orange Cake with a creamy citrus frosting.

  1. Feeding Your Pets: If you’re an animal lover, why not upcycle your food scraps by feeding them to your pets? Many types of human food are safe for pets, and certain scraps are actually beneficial for their health.

For instance, cooked broccoli leaves make for an excellent snack for cats and dogs. Carrot and potato peels are also a great treat for your pet as long as they’re cooked and not raw (you can cook these in stock to enhance the flavor and make them more appetizing to your pets).

  1. Donating: If you don’t have the time or resources to upcycle your food scraps, why not try donating them? There are numerous food banks and charities in need of donations that accept food scraps. These scraps can be used to create nutritious meals for families in need and help to cut back on food waste.

Food waste is an ongoing challenge that needs to be addressed. One of the best ways to contribute to a more sustainable and eco-friendly world is to upcycle our food scraps rather than throwing them away.

Upcycling not only reduces our food waste but also helps us to create nutrient-rich soil amendments, flavorful stocks, soup, and salad dressings, sustainable snacks, and meals for our pets and those in need.

The nine genius ways outlined above can help us to upcycle our food scraps and make a positive environmental impact.