By Riley Meese | Illustration by Jubilee Hernandez

Did you know most of your produce “waste” can be re-grown, boiled down, or used in another way that avoids the trash bin?

Most of us are attempting to avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store while trying to eat healthy to boost our immune systems. What we consider scraps can actually be a solution. Did you know that celery, green onions, shallots, lettuce, bok choy, carrots, beets, herbs, and more can be regrown from the part that we normally cut off and throw away? It’s true!

Take celery for example. Just cut off the stalks all together, leaving the bottom piece intact, and place it in a jar, or bowl, of water. The stalks will start to re-grow within a few days and you can plant the celery in a container or garden once roots begin to develop. Green onions and lettuce can also regrow with the same method of water, sunlight, and warmth. An added bonus to preventing waste in these ways is saving a few extra dollars and avoiding the lines at the grocery stores, which is especially nice for those on a college student budget.

What to do with scraps that can’t be regrown? You can make your own compost! Organic matter, like compost, is the healthiest additive to give your vegetable garden. Compost is made from materials that are likely already in your kitchen or backyard, such as coffee grounds, eggshells, dry leaves and grass clippings. Once again, you are finding a new use for materials that would otherwise go straight to the trash bin.

Not quite ready to take the plunge into a mini vegetable garden? No worries — you can also use your food scraps to make your own vegetable or meat broth. It’s as simple as taking the scraps from onions, celery, carrot peels, and chicken bones, throwing them in a pot of water with some herbs or aromatics like peppercorn or shallots, and boiling the whole thing down. Voila! Your own homemade vegetable/meat broth. I love to save mine in the freezer for when I need it.

Still too much work? I got you. How about using your sour, curdled milk to make pancakes or waffles? Yes, I am serious. Did you know that soured or curdled milk can be used as a replacement for buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt? So, if you’re in the baking mood and want to go beyond pancakes, you can use your soured milk to make cakes, scones, biscuits, and almost anything else that calls for the above ingredients.

Maybe you don’t have a green thumb or an inclination to cook — how about using those food scraps in your next art project? Food parts can be great tools for printing funky shapes with some paint and paper. Even though these scraps still end up in the trash, their purpose in life was still extended. All hail the reuse component of reduce, reuse, recycle!

While we are all at home, now’s the time to get creative by turning waste saving practices into fun projects!

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