Wondering what to do with all those fruit and veggie scraps that pile up after dinner? Instead of throwing them out, we’ve got a few fun, easy and cost-free ways to make good use of them. From making your own tie-dyed clothes to setting up a compost heap at home, there’s something for everyone.
Australian households waste 28% of their food purchases, with the country putting out a whopping 80 million tonnes of waste every year. It's not hard to see we've got a big problem with food waste in this country with the average Aussie putting out just under 550 kilos of rubbish each year – but fruit and veggie scraps are high on the list of wasted foods – and unnecessary wastage at that. Around the globe, half of all fruit and veggie produce is put to waste, contributing not only to landfill, but also to global warming and climate change. This is because these scraps release methane, and when you consider how much is sitting out in landfill – that’s a lot of methane. So, what can you do about it? Don’t throw your produce scraps out, try these three fun ways to put them to use.
Get creative with tie dying
Many fruits and veggies have natural colours that are perfect to use as dyes – beetroot, onion skins and avocado peels and pits are all rich in colour for your next textile project. Plus, you won’t just be protecting the environment, you’ll be protecting your health too. This is because clothing factories often use toxic dyes which can cause skin irritation, not to mention the impact they have on our oceans when they’re washed and drained. They’ll also save your wallet – no more overpriced clothes that wear out in less than a year, you can dig up your old tees and jumpers and give them a new lease on life.
To make a tie dye, regardless of the scraps you choose, there are a few simple steps to follow:
- Dampen your fabric or old clothing item (white works best) with water.
- Boil up a large pot of water – around 10 cups will be enough.
- Add any ingredients and scraps to the pot, letting them gently bubble for around 25 minutes.
- Strain the scraps out of the water.
- Now it’s time to submerge your fabric into the pot to simmer for around 25 minutes.
- You’ll then need to remove the fabric and pour cold water over it. Note: If you wish to have a more vibrant colour, it’s worth leaving the fabric in the pot overnight.
- Let it dry and then it’s good to go!
Now it’s time to choose your scraps – here are a few ideas to get you started:
Mustard yellow tie dye: This vibrant-coloured tie dye will bring stale wardrobe items to life, and is perfect for an autumn look.
You’ll need the following:
- 1 tablespoon turmeric (ground)
- 2 cups yellow onion skins
Pink tie dye: If you’re a fan of the blush pink clothes that are doing the rounds at every fashion outlet, you’ll want to try this fun colour blend – it’s got all the colour and none of the cost!
You’ll need the following:
- 5 dark avocado skins
Dark pink tie dye: For a deeper shade of pink, you’ll want to make use of any extra beetroot and beet scraps.
You’ll need the following:
- 1 bunch of beetroots
- 1 cup of vinegar
There are a number of fun colour combinations you can make using the scraps in your kitchen. If the above colours don’t suit your taste, go for cabbage scraps, raspberries, blackberries, along with spices like turmeric and paprika to give an extra colour kick to your fabric.
Compost your scraps
Composting is another easy way to keep those produce scraps out of landfill. This gardening practise involves recycling organic materials, like your fruit and veggie scraps, into a nutrient-dense fertiliser. You can set up shop outdoors in a heap or indoors in a compost caddy if you don't have a garden – indoor composting is especially popular among apartment dwellers. It can then be used to enrich your garden or pot-plant’s soil – take a look at the variety of old scraps you can add to your compost:
- Fruit and veggie scraps
- Teabags and ground coffee
- Egg shells
- Grass cuttings
Getting your compost heap started is surprisingly simple, just follow the steps below:
- Choose a spot for your heap – near a water source is ideal. You’ll also want your heap to be partially shaded.
- Mix brown materials like leaves and branches with green materials like the fruit and veggie scraps in a 3:1 ratio.
- Give your compost some moisture without waterlogging it.
- You may start to see steam coming out of your compost heap over time, don’t worry – this means it’s working as it should.
- When the compost is dark with no remaining visible bits of food scraps, it’s ready to be used as fertiliser.
Make a veggie stock
A vegetable stock is one dish where you don't have to worry about keeping your ingredients neat and tidy – this is the place to palm off all your veggie scraps. From peels to skins, stalks and leaves, there are a variety of scraps you can throw in the pot. To make your stock, simply add in your veggie scraps to a pot of water and bring it to a boil, simmering for around 10-15 minutes. Feel free to add any of your usual seasonings and veggies for extra flavour.
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