Food scraps in composte

Innovative ways to repurpose your produce leftovers

From kitchen scraps to treasures

Story by Sheila Paz

Before you toss your kitchen scraps into the trash, consider this: those peels, stems and leaves could have a remarkable second act. In a world striving for sustainability, the seemingly unwanted parts of your produce offer a treasure trove of unconventional uses.

All ingredients for a vegan pesto in a kitchen machine. Carrots, leaves, cashew nuts, salt, pepper and olive oil.

Carrot top pesto 

Don’t discard those vibrant carrot tops. Their parsley-like flavor, with subtle carrot undertones and a hint of bitterness, is ideal for an inventive take on pesto. Blanching them with garlic and a squeeze of lemon neutralizes the bitterness, while their rich vitamin A, C, and K content boosts your nutrient intake. Simply integrate a cup of carrot tops into your favorite pesto recipe for an ingenious, delicious twist.

organic compost - biodegradable kitchen waste and soil. Layers of biowaste is covering with soil

Make black gold

Composting transforms your food waste into nutrient-rich soil, dubbed “black gold” by farmers, providing an enriching medium for your garden. By balancing carbon-rich “browns” and nitrogen-rich “greens,” you create a compost mix that decomposes into fertile soil, enriching your garden while reducing kitchen waste.

Vegan Rice Vegetarian Rice Broccoli Rice

Broc your world

Transform broccoli and cauliflower stems into a grain-free rice alternative. Pulse the stems in a food processor until they resemble rice grains, then sauté to perfection. This not only reduces waste but also adds a nutritious and creative twist to your meals.

Baked potato skin crisps on a tray

Crispy delights: Roasted potato skins

Turn potato skins into a crunchy, savory snack. Wash and season them, then roast to achieve a golden, crispy treat. This not only minimizes waste but also provides a delicious, healthier alternative to store-bought chips.

Close up of DIY cleaning spray, natural toxic free home cleaner, orange peel infused vinegar. Zero waste homemade citrus cleaner for all purpose cleaning. Environmentally friendly concept. Top view.

Eco-friendly cleaning 

Harness the power of citrus peels to create a natural, effective household cleanser. Infuse white vinegar with leftover peels for a potent cleaning solution that tackles grime and refreshes your home.

Lemon juice, natural cosmetics. The woman soaking fingernails in lemon juice water

Natural nail care

Brighten and whiten your nails naturally with lemon peels. Soaking your nails in lemon-infused water, followed by gently rubbing them with the peel, can enhance their appearance without harsh chemicals, offering a simple, natural beauty hack.

A row of colorful tie-dye T-shirts hanging outside on a clothesline in the sun

Homemade dyes

Create all-natural dyes with beet trimmings, red cabbage or yellow onion skins. Whether it’s crafting vibrant textiles or coloring foods, these homemade dyes are an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic colors. Follow simple simmering processes to extract rich colors from these scraps, offering both a sustainable and creative solution to repurpose your leftovers.

Vegetable scraps used to create zero-waste homemade broth. Vegetable stock that fights food waste!

Soup’s on 

Vegetable scraps, such as carrot tops, onion skins and herb stems, are ideal for making flavorful homemade broths and stocks. Instead of throwing them away, collect these scraps in a freezer bag until you have enough to simmer into a delicious base for soups, stews and risottos. 

Chickens on traditional free range poultry farm

Waste not, feed lots

Some produce waste, such as leftover grains or wilted greens, can be repurposed as nutritious feed for backyard chickens, rabbits or composting worms. This not only diverts waste from landfills but also provides a sustainable source of food for animals. Just be sure to research which scraps are safe and appropriate for your specific animals.

Beautiful hydroponic plants sprout growing from seed in glass of water on the shelf with white background.

Grow your own

Did you know that some produce scraps can be regrown into new plants? For example, the bottoms of celery or lettuce heads can be placed in water to encourage regrowth of new leaves. Similarly, avocado pits can sprout into avocado trees, given the right conditions. It’s a fun and sustainable way to extend the life of your produce and even enjoy homegrown fruits and vegetables.

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