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The New Year is synonymous with resolutions for many people. If you want to reduce your environmental footprint, reducing food waste is a great place to start! What’s more, you’ll save twice as much. But New Year’s resolutions tend to be kept for only a few weeks, before falling back into old habits. Here are my best tips to gradually reduce food waste and maintain new habits all year long!
Conducting an autopsy on your compost bin
Take the time to look at what’s in your compost bin and identify the main sources of your food waste. You can then prioritize this issue as a starting point.
If the main problem is soft vegetables or mouldy food, find out the best preservation techniques and adjust your practices.
If you see mostly uneaten leftovers, work on your meal planning and adjust your purchases (downsize!) according to your consumption. You can also use your freezer to store your surplus.
If you mostly waste fruit and vegetable peelings, discover anti-waste recipes for cooking them, such as broths, peel chips, pesto or marmalade. You can also use them in your household products or as an infusion in your water.
If you have a tendency to forget about mouldy foods hidden behind the milk jug, consider setting aside a time slot or two during the week to rotate inventory and cook a “leftovers” recipe.
Set one precise, attainable goal
If we want to succeed in changing our behaviour, it’s important to clearly define what we want to do. A resolution like “I want to waste less food” is unlikely to materialize, because it’s not a behaviour, but rather a result. A better example of a goal would be: “Every Sunday, I’ll plan three meals for the week and a grocery list.” It’s also important to give yourself an achievable goal. If you’ve never planned your shopping, it may be unrealistic to plan five meals a week. Starting with one or two meals will already be an excellent step in the right direction.
Pair the new habit with something you’re already doing
One way of integrating a new habit without too much fuss is to add it to a habit you already have. For example, if you want to preserve your food better, take the time to wrap and store it properly when you get home from the grocery store. If you want to do some meal planning, get into the habit of doing it over your Sunday morning coffee. If you want to cook “leftovers” meals more often, choose an evening when you have more time and always cook dinner at home anyway.
It’s easier to add something than to take it away. In other words, be positive about your goals. Instead of telling yourself that you won’t waste anything, aim to cook the vegetables hiding in the fridge drawer more often.
Surround yourself with the right people to motivate you through change
The people around us, especially those with whom we live, can greatly influence our habits and how we maintain them over time. By making sure everyone’s on the same wavelength, you’ll avoid duplicating work for both of you, and reduce the risk of conflict. What’s more, it’s much more motivating to make changes when one or more people join in. If you live alone, set yourself weekly or monthly challenges with friends or work colleagues. Or try reducing waste in the office for a start.
Be kind to yourself and wait several weeks before adding a new goal
Don’t try to change everything all at once. It’s important to take it one step at a time and not aim for perfection! It’s better to make a small change and stick with it over time than to waste nothing for a month and then go back to your old habits. And be patient. We tend to have all-or-nothing thinking and give up when we forget for a week, but this is not helpful in the long run!
It’s far better to have thousands of imperfect people taking action against waste than a handful of people doing it perfectly!
Happy New Year and I wish you a lighter compost bin!
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