Anti-Food Waste Campaign Offers Creative Ideas for Using Up Ingredients

The 'Five Things With' website can take your surplus food from sad to scrumptious.

kitchen compost
Kitchen scraps go into a compost bin.

Getty Images / Karl Tapales

Do you ever throw away food because you don't know what to do with it? Maybe it looks wilted or past its prime, or you have just a little bit leftover from something else you made and it seems pointless to keep. Perhaps it's a peel, rind, or bunch of leaves that you'd normally discard without thinking. 

A new campaign by Love Food Hate Waste Canada wants you to stop and reassess before tossing those bits and pieces. Called "Five Ways With," the campaign focuses on some of the most commonly discarded foods—like tomatoes, milk, bread, and bananas—and gives five suggestions for how you could incorporate them into new dishes or other useful household concoctions. With 63% of Canadian households throwing away food that could be eaten, there's much room for improvement.

For example, leftover bunches of herbs can be used to infuse oil or water, squeezed lemons can deodorize a fridge, leafy stems add flavor to homemade stock, leftover rice is great for bulking up a burrito or soup, and broccoli stalks can be grated and turned into fritters.

Other suggestions are unconventional. Did you know that wilted lettuce can be pickled, juiced, or braised and that leftover roasted zucchini makes fabulous tzatziki? Even more intriguing is this fun fact about banana peels: Soak them in water for a few days and use them to water houseplants. The campaign states: "The added potassium and phosphorus in the water make a great fertilizer that can help revive a sad-looking plant!" 

Throughout the pandemic, many households have been doing a better job at reducing food waste, since they're cooking more from scratch and eating at home. They're checking the pantry before they shop, creating grocery lists, meal planning, and freezing foods to extend their life span. But it's important not to lose that momentum as the world (slowly) returns to normal. There is a need to "commit to waste reduction both for financial and environmental reasons," as explained by Love Food Hate Waste, and this campaign can help with that. 

strawberries for Love Food Hate Waste campaign

Love Food Hate Waste

The time is ripe, one might say. Jack Froese, chair of the National Zero Waste Council, said in a press release that Canadians (and presumably Americans, too) are more motivated than ever to reduce their food waste.

"A consumer insight survey conducted in 2020 showed that 84% of Canadians agreed that food waste is an important national issue and 94% of Canadians were motivated to reduce their food waste," Froese said. "The '5 Ways With' website [offers] the tools to act and prevent food waste in the home."

Reducing food waste has real environmental benefits, too. It is one of the most effective things we can do to slow global warming, as roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption never gets eaten and its disposal contributes 8% of global greenhouse emissions. In developing countries, most food loss occurs earlier in the supply chain, with spoilage and distribution problems, but in wealthier nations, it happens at the retail and household levels. 

That is where our individual efforts can help, and a campaign like Five Things With makes it easier than ever. The next time you're faced with a sad-looking item in the fridge, pull out your phone to do a quick search and see if there's some way you can transform it. The more tips and tricks you learn, the easier and more instinctive it will become.