Consider Agricultural Waste Uses Before You Toss Out Your Kitchen Waste
Why agricultural waste? In our previous blog post we talked about Zero Waste Hierarchy. Towards the bottom of the hierarchy, was the landfill. That is the last place we would want our beautiful natural resources to end up. Over the past few decades, waste generation has become a huge issue. Producing waste is obviously not something that can be stopped completely but the alarmingly high rates of generation pose another problem for the planet- disposal. Among the many different types of wastes, one that is significantly overlooked is agricultural waste. Now if you’re not involved in large-scale organic farming or growing your own produce, you may wonder; what does agricultural waste have to do with me? Agricultural waste has the potential to become a great source of energy and serve as a replacement for many artificial processes or products. The modern kitchen is an agricultural waste haven!
To dive deep into what agricultural waste is, we must first know what it constitutes.
Agricultural waste has four main categories:
- Animal waste: this could include animal excreta(manure), animal carcasses, etc.
- Farming waste: this could include the parts of crops that are mostly discarded. For example, cornstalks.
- Toxic chemicals: this includes pesticides, insecticides that are often used in agriculture.
- Food Processing waste: such as items removed from fruits and vegetables during cleaning, processing, cooking, and/or packaging.
Even though we may think that our kitchen food waste doesn't cause much harm... When we add a few billion people to the mix the statistics change quite rapidly. Most landfills release greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change: methane gas escapes during the building process. Incineration leaves some toxic ash waste, and the burning process releases a vast amount of carbon dioxide into our precious atmosphere. Furthermore, during disposal, what we essentially lose out on are sources of energy or the potential to use what we consider ‘waste’ to produce something valuable.
The simplest way to prevent your agricultural waste from ending up in landfills is to reduce the disposal of fruit and vegetable leftovers.
For example, did you know that rice husk ash or charcoal can be used to make activated carbon? Activated carbon can be used to make medicines or to whiten your teeth. Banana peels can be used as a papermaking pulp. Solves the problem of cutting down trees eh? Palm oil, which is extracted from the palm fruit, can be used as an organic fertilizer as opposed to the harmful chemicals. Animal waste serves as a great fertilizer as well! The onion skins that we often discard without a thought, have anti-fungal properties that help relieve skin itches.