Making The Most of Waste

Jim Bruner | Mezzacello Leftover crackers, bread, the wrong clams, and even rice with bugs is not waste.

It takes patience, planning and vision to figure out how to start Making The Most of Waste. It’s so easy to frame waste as something not wanted, when really waste is just something needed elsewhere.

The first step is setting in place systems for elsewhere to exist. Compost, animal feed, soil amendments, or even just for crafts. Keeping an open and creative eye out for resources is a mind shift. You have to make space and place for it.

Planning Ahead

I keep a space open to collect food that can’t be eaten or is inconvenient to eat to reuse later. Sometimes this food has to be used quickly or the cycle of life will convert it for you. The trick is keeping stable amendments on hand.

A lot of people won’t have space for this process, I get that. I don’t really either, but I have made eradicating nonsense waste a priority for myself and I get creative. I repurposed lockers with shelves to store shelf stable resources like rice, cheap canned food and fertilizer amendments. Thrift stores are a great place to find containers to safely store dry goods and cheap!

Maximizing Shelf Stability

I collect and dry coffee grounds and bake eggshells and mussel and clam shells in the oven or the dehydrator. I also collect and dry some hollow bones so they store better. Then I bring them in when I have the opportunity to offset waste.

This morning’s offset was oyster crackers thrown in a bag when I bought soup — three weeks ago. I passed along some stale bread end pieces, fresh eggshells, bug infested rice (it happens) and minced clams from a can. The clams were a mistakenly bought item from the store, but they are shelf stable and full of nutrients.

Protein is Protein and Money

A bag of feed for the chickens and ducks is $16 USD a bag and that lasts roughly two months. Upon reflection, this treat bowl will feed poultry for the day, provide valuable and necessary protein and niacin for the ducks and bring them joy. Those bugs in the rice, they won’t hurt humans, but they are not the best, but to birds they are a gift!

Jim Bruner | Mezzacello The treat bowl for the birds. I add canned peas or brewer’s yeast for the ducks when I have them.

Since it is -11C I’ll throw in some bacon fat and lard with mealworms and oats too. Easy Peasy! The result of the bacon fat, lard and oats and mealworms are minimal as they are shelf stable for years!

There is no version of the word “waste” in human language that denotes a positive or net-valuable impact. It is by nature a word about loss…

jim Bruner

At the risk of sounding insufferable and preachy I will leave you with this thought:

There is no version of the word “waste” in human language that denotes a positive or net valuable impact. It is by nature a word about loss – opportunities and resources. Take that word back through insight, planning and action. Time to go feed the animals.

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