A significant factor of sustainable living includes making the right choices when it comes to food. In Cayman, much of our food is imported and a considerable amount of energy, fuel and water is used in the entire process of growing, distributing, storing and cooking our food. Although choosing local produce is a great way to offset this energy from being used, in Cayman we do not always have the option to do that. Consciously eliminating food waste, however, can have the same desired effect of indirectly slowing down global warming and deforestation.
Saving food also saves money, and by reducing the amount of food that you throw away, you are reducing packaging waste that will end up in landfills. There are several ways to reduce food waste:
- Check your pantry and fridge before you do your grocery shopping so you know what food you already have.
- Plan your meals ahead. Meal prepping is a great way to eliminate waste.
- Learn how to store your food properly as this can help it stay fresh for longer.
- If you can’t use it, freeze it!
Eating local has never been easier. Agribusiness in the Cayman Islands is booming! There is a wide variety of fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables that can be found year round at Cayman’s farmers markets and grocery stores… from passion fruits and mangoes to wide varieties of kale, mustard greens and arugula.Read More
There are benefits for cutting out meat at least once a week. Substituting meat for plant protein allows your diet to become more nutritious and can help reduce your chances of health issues. Not only are you reducing your carbon footprint, but will also save money as meat is generally more expensive than plant based proteins.
Meat-free Monday is a campaign launched by Sir Paul McCartney in 2009. The campaigns purpose is to draw attention to the negative environmental impact caused by eating meat and to encourage people to have at least one meat free day each week. This not only slows down climate change and conserves precious natural resources, but will also improves one’s health.
The Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations reports that the livestock sector is one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. Farmed animals consume large amounts of grain and water and in order to feed livestock, land is required to grow these crops. As the global demand for meat increases, more land is required to meet these demands. The whole process of slaughtering, transporting and storing meat is a very energy-intensive operation and in the end, animals consume more food than they produce.
Check out www.meatfreemondays.com for more information.
Composting - the natural bio-degradation of organic materials - is a good way to recycle your leftover food and food scraps, and is something that deserves a lot more attention here in Cayman.
Compost is primarily used as fertilizer in soil, and can be useful to farmers, landscapers and nurseries. If you enjoy home gardening, making your own compost will certainly save you money on mulch and potting soil and it is a relatively easy activity to manage. Composting systems, typically described as ‘bins’, come in a variety of different sizes, but you can also make your own. (AL Thompson usually have composting bins in stock.) Generally, composting is an activity that requires space, but if you live in an apartment without a garden, there are ways to recycle your food scraps indoors.
There are five components to indoor composting:
- Greens: Nitrogen-rich materials-vegetable/fruit trimmings, coffee grounds, eggshells
- Browns: Carbon-rich materials – Leaves, twigs, paper/cardboard
- Soils: Helps break down the greens and browns.
- Water: The texture of the compost pile should be that of a wrung-out sponge.
- Air Content: supports the breakdown of plant material
Making your Compost Bin
- You can use a metal trash can or a plastic box but the container needs to be covered.
- Drill some holes on the bottom and around the rim of the container, and set it on slats or bricks to allow for air flow. Put some newspaper under the slats to collect any spills.
- Start off at the bottom of your container by layering it with coffee grounds, twigs or leaves, or shredded newspaper.
- Next you can start adding your food scraps – vegetable trimmings, egg shells, banana peels etc. Making these scraps as small as possible helps them break down faster. Avoid dairy and meat products as these might cause odors and don’t break down as easily.
- Once the vegetable layer is complete, add a layer of soil. This helps with the decomposition and locks down the odour.
- Continue with these layers (newspaper, vegetable trimmings and soil) until the container is full.
- Once full, keep the container covered, make sure it is aerated (by mixing it every week) and check the moisture content – a little dampness is necessary to break down the waste.
- You will need two similar containers. You can start filling the second container while the first one is turning into compost.
For those interested, there are numerous blogs online that deal with different indoor composting methods.