Tradition dictates that Christmas is all about gathering together for a meal and stuffing ourselves silly but from the video above it is clear that the Christmas season is one of the most wasteful times of the year when it comes to over-stocking the fridge and overstuffing our bellies. While it’s nice to shower your friends and family with an abundant selection of food choices (packaged or not) it’s not all that ethical to be cooking more than you need. Fortunately food and kitchen packaging waste is an easily avoidable thing and something that you can take charge of right now with a few simple tips courtesy of Zero Waste.
- Don’t waste food scraps – place in a compost bin or worm farm.Your scraps will be back feeding your garden and reducing water use in no time. Compost bins and worm farms make excellent Christmas gifts too! Some councils allow food scraps in the green organics bin
- Most food and drink packaging, including bottles, jars, cans and tins, cardboard boxes and cartons can be recycled. If you’re in an area with cash for can facilities don’t forget to cash in cans and bottles with a 10 cent deposit.
- Give bottles, jars and tins a quick rinse before placing in your recycling bin to ensure these are free from food contamination that may resign them to landfill. The water you use to rinse will be more than made up for in the water saved recycling versus making a new item from raw materials. Or better still, save bottles and tins until you wash all your regular dishes then give your recycling a wash at the end.
- Does the triangular symbol with a number from 1 to 7 in it mean the item is recyclable? No! This is a plastics identification code used by manufacturers to label the type of plastic. What is recyclable is determined by the recycling facilities in your local area. Generally speaking rigid plastic bottles and containers that hold their own shape, including soft drink and milk bottles as well as take-away containers can be recycled in your recycling bin across Australia. Soft plastics create problems at kerbside recycling facilities so never place recyclables in plastic bags. Simply put all recyclables into the recycling bin loose and soft plastics and bags can be recycled at metropolitan Coles stores or placed in the waste bin.
- Lids can be recycled depending on your local council recycling facilities. Place metal lids inside a steel can, squeeze the top closed so they don’t fall out. Plastic lids can go inside a plastic milk bottle and then placed in your recycling bin.
Planning your meals.
Planning is key when it comes to reducing food waste. Many of us give little thought to exactly what we will eat and what quantities we require ingredients in. These two factors combined result in finding limp broccoli in the corners of our crispers. The folks over at Foodwise have identified that many of us are a little useless at shopping smart (with Australian’s discarding of around 20% of the food we purchase) and have come up with a clever tool for an easy, stress and waste-free week. By helping you select, plan and shop for the days ahead the Meal Planner will save you money, time and help you on the way to a more environmentally friendly kitchen. Why not try it out in the lead up to Christmas!
Thinking ethically about what you eat.
While we are on the topic of food lets talk ethics. While no diet is completely sustainable (everything we eat has an impact somewhere) we can make more sustainable and ethical choices. When it comes to food consumption choices meat has been shown to be less efficient and more environmentally damaging than veggie based proteins. This is a sad but true fact for many rampant carnivores. Traditionally Christmas has been based around the carving of the turkey or celebrating family over a crackled pork roast. While these aren’t the most environmentally friendly (and certainly not animal friendly) ways to eat, many people out there can’t imagine a Christmas without these protein staples. This year why not try for a low to no meat or animal products meal. For those who eat meat why not try for just one dish with animal products (try to find a local ethical producer) then make the rest of your food choices vegan or vegetarian another option is to include extras like sustainably sourced mussels and oysters. There is a good chance that the meat eating people attending your party won’t even notice you have gone for Vegan options if you provide a central meat dish! A quick google will help you to find a Vegan or Vegetarian alternative to pretty much any Christmas staple, from faux turkey (beware these kinds of things too often as they are usually pretty heavy on the plastic wrapping) to White Christmas (pictured above).
If you are interested in eating sustainably and lowering your food waste check out these links for more info:
- Sustainable Table.
- Left Over Recipes
- Meatless Monday
- Sustainable Food Trust
- PETA (warning… PETA is an animal rights group so it’s pretty graphic)
- Food Alliance
- Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance
What’s your favourite Christmas food? Do you have a recipe you want to share? Let us know below.