Americans generate 238 million tons of waste per year, including 38 million tons from food alone, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Our landfills are slowly reaching capacity as we throw away (and only sometimes recycle) items long before fully exhausting their uses. Become a more mindful consumer by using up every bit of these commonly wasted items.
Got a bit herb happy on your last grocery trip? Use these tips to put every last leaf and stem to use.
Freeze herb-infused ice cubes: To elevate any glass of water or cocktail, muddle herb leaves, place in an ice cube tray, fill with filtered water and freeze.
Make a unique pesto: No basil? No prob! Other herbs like parsley, dandelion greens or cilantro work equally well in pesto. DIY dried herbs: Position your herbs in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and bake on low heat (less than 180 degrees) for two to four hours. When leaves get crumbly, remove and let cool before placing in a storage container for up to a year.
Be an artist: Press unused herbs between sheets of waxed paper in a large stack of books, and allow to dry about a week. Frame pressed herbs on a neutral piece of stock paper, and enjoy all year
Go beyond the weeknight dinner menu with these tips.
Every last bone: Add chicken carcass to 8–10 cups of water in a large pot. Add carrot, onion, celery pieces and a few herbs. Simmer for 60–75 minutes, strain and allow broth to cool before storing for up to three months in the freezer.
Dish up dog treats: Combine any remaining unseasoned chicken and skin scraps with a few tablespoons of broth or water, nut butter and a veggie of choice, and blend. Pour mixture into an ice cube tray, and freeze for a cool treat your pup will love.
Re-pack it: Rinse and reuse the original packaging as food storage to hold your next butcher or meat-counter purchase.
According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the average U.S. citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing per year, some of which will never decompose. Keep these ideas handy for your next closet clean-out.
Cleaning cloths: No fancy sewing skills needed. Simply cut old garments to your preferred size and clean away!
Paper-napkin alternative: Cut the fabric to your desired size, and sew a simple hem to avoid raveling.
Compost: Pure linen, cotton, silk, wool, cashmere and hemp are all biodegradable and can be added to your compost bin. Beware of synthetic threads used for hemming; they won’t break down.
Reusable produce bags: Cut the sleeves off a cotton T-shirt, and sew the bottom waistline closed.
No need to toss glass honey, jam, salsa or baby food jars. Remove the label and upcycle them in classy ways.
Freezer storage: Ditch plastic baggies, and freeze scratch-made broths and soups in glass jars for up to three months. Leave about a third of the jar empty to allow for liquid expansion.
Cookie cutter: Use the jar opening for cutting perfectly round treats.
Homemade candles: Reuse glass jars to hand-pour a homemade candle.
Indoor herb garden: Add rocks, soil and select herb seeds, and display in an area with plentiful sunlight.
Bulk food storage: Refill jars at your local grocery’s bulk section. Be sure to weigh the empty jar before filling, and subtract the tare weight at the register.
Who knew our favorite pick-me-up had more duties than just energizing you each morning?
Coffee cubes: Freeze leftover coffee in an ice cube tray, and use the cubes in iced coffee or to flavor soups, chili and even cocktails.
Dessert: Liven up your sweet treats by replacing a portion of the recipe’s liquid with brewed coffee when making homemade brownies, cookies or ice cream.
Dye: Save extra brewed coffee to dye cloth or paper a rich golden color.
Deodorizer: Dry used coffee grounds, and place in an open container to absorb odors in the refrigerator or freezer.
Compost material: Used coffee grounds make a good soil fertilizer because they contain nitrates. Plus, worms love it.
Get the most from your fruit by utilizing peels, rinds and cores.
Zest crystals: Before cutting your citrus fruits, zest the rinds with a microplane and freeze in a sealed container for up to three months. Use to flavor pastas, desserts or salad dressings and in recipes as needed.
Potpourri: Dried fruit peels are perfect for this fragrant DIY mix. Lay out the skins on a wire rack, and bake on low heat for approximately two hours. Mix and match different herbs and fruits for your own signature smell.
Sun tea: Use the cores of apples, pineapples and mangoes to flavor water or make sun tea. Place the cores into a pitcher of water, cover and leave in the sun for a few hours. Drain the tea, chill and sweeten if preferred.