Oops! It appears that you have disabled your Javascript. In order for you to see this page as it is meant to appear, we ask that you please re-enable your Javascript!

The ethical cook: What to do with food waste

Reviewed by our expert panel
The ethical cook: What to do with food waste

In New Zealand, around 40% of the average household’s waste is food scraps that could be recycled. It’s an inevitable by-product of eating: as long as we eat we are going to have food waste.

It’s estimated that in America, 27% of the food produced for human consumption is thrown out as waste.

In New Zealand, around 40% of the average household’s waste is food scraps that could be recycled instead of going to the landfill, where they create the greenhouse gas methane.

Here are some ways to deal with it:

A compost bin is the simplest way to dispose of food scraps.

You can compost most things: vegetable and fruit waste, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells, paper plates and shredded paper. You can put garden waste in here too.

You’ll need a mix of ‘brown’ and ‘green’ waste in the compost bin to keep it balanced.

A worm farm is a great way to recycle food scraps if you only have a small garden, or even just a balcony, and kids love them!

Worms eat vege and fruit scraps, tea bags, cheese, bread, cake, biscuits, egg shells, seaweed, sawdust, vacuum cleaner dust and even paper (don’t put meat in your worm farm).

Worm compost is excellent fertiliser, and worm farms are clean and odour-free.

This is a different kind of system that uses fermentation rather than composting to break down food waste.

You can keep a Bokashi bucket right in the kitchen (it’s tightly sealed and doesn’t smell) and put all solid food waste including meat and fish into it.

You also add a special mix of sawdust, which has a microorganism added that helps ferment the food. When the bucket is full, the contents are buried in the garden where they break down to make great compost.

See the Bokashi website for more information

See your local council’s website; lots of councils run free composting courses, and there is a growing number of composting facilities now handling food and green waste around the country.

Mackenzie District Council was the first Zero Waste Council in New Zealand to implement a three-bag collection system to include the weekly collection of food and green wastes (from households and businesses) in green bags.

Why not encourage yours to do the same?

First published: Jul 2007

, , ,

Go to homepage*Subsequent months will be $2.75