Keeping It Green: Waste Not, Want Not

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We sit full and drowsy after a holiday feast. We enjoyed the turkey, tenderloin or ham, plenty of drink and also a huge helping of dessert. Its a few days later and we still have leftovers. Turkey scraps off the bone, cranberry sauce, gravy, buns and plenty of stuffing. Besides all the cooked food we have cans of sauces, boxes of stuffing mix, potatoes and other unused products sitting on the shelf. What do we do with all these leftovers and unused food items?

The cooked and prepared products have the potential for spoilage thus they must be thrown away. But do not throw them in the trash; throw them in a compost pile. Composting is a great way to take the food items that we don’t want or are spoiled and allowing them to break down to an organic state which can then be used to fertilizer the earth which in turn will grow more food items. It is a simple task that just takes a composting barrel (they come in all sizes and ease of use), some worms and lots of patience. There are many stores and websites to assist you in your composting efforts.

What about the untouched items in the pantry? The idea of leaving them there until the next holiday party is not an option. Did you realize that approximately 100 billion pounds of food – about 3,000 pounds per second-is wasted every year in the United States? At this time of year, and really all year around, thousands of individuals and families go hungry. As we add items on the shelf every time we shop, remember someone is in need of just one can of soup or one box of macaroni to feed themselves and quite possibly their children. The recent economic downturn has caused this situation to be even more extreme, with food banks running out of food across the country. Rutgers University has made a specific effort to help the food banks of New Jersey through its Rutgers Against Hunger campaign (RAH). The program started in 2008 and just last year it distributed more than 27 million pounds of food to more than 1,800 charitable programs statewide.

It’s time to remember and act upon the age old saying of “waste not, want not” – if we don’t waste what we have now, we will have it in the future and therefore we will not want for it. Efforts to save the earth include those of conserving that which came from the earth and saving those who live on it. Compost and give to your local food bank. You can make a difference.

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