How to Upcycle Food Scraps into Useful Household Items
Reusing food scraps that would otherwise go to waste is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and get creative in the kitchen. With a little effort, you can upcycle things like fruit peels, vegetable trimmings, coffee grounds, and more into handy household items. Here’s how to give food scraps a second life in your home.
Make DIY Scrubs
Coffee grounds, oats, sugar, and other pantry items make excellent natural exfoliants. Here are some scrub recipes to try:
Coffee body scrub – Mix used coffee grounds with a little oil like coconut or olive oil. The grounds will slough off dead skin cells. The oil will add moisture.
Sugar lip scrub – Combine 1 tbsp sugar with 1 tsp olive oil and a drop of honey. Gently rub on lips to remove flaky skin. Rinse.
Oatmeal face scrub – Blend 1 tbsp oats with 1 tsp plain yogurt. Gently massage into skin, then rinse.
Tip: Store scrubs in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. The natural ingredients may mold if left out too long.
Produce Natural Dye
Avocado pits, onion skins, blueberry skins, and other produce scraps can be used to make plant-based dyes for fabrics or paper crafts.
- Place peels and skins in a pot. Cover with water. Simmer for 30 mins to 1 hour.
- Strain and let the liquid cool.
- Add fabric or paper and let soak overnight. Rinse and let dry.
Onion skins make a warm yellow. Blueberry skins create a purple-gray. Avocado pits make a greenish hue. Experiment with different items from your kitchen!
Make Stovetop Potpourri
Simmer fruit peels, like citrus or apple peels, with spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to produce a wonderful smelling homemade potpourri for your stove.
- Place peels and spices in a small pot with 2 cups water.
- Simmer over low heat for 1-2 hours with the lid on.
- Let cool, then strain liquid and discard peels.
- Transfer liquid to a heatproof container with a pour spout.
When cooking, add a splash of the fragrant liquid to the pan for added aroma! Refrigerate and reuse for up to 2 weeks.
Grow Food From Scraps
Many vegetable and herb trimmings can be regrown right on your windowsill! Reusing scraps reduces waste and gives you fresh produce.
Garlic – Place a garlic clove in a small jar with water. New shoots will sprout.
Celery – Cut the base and place in a shallow bowl of water. New stalks will regrow.
Green onions – Place root ends in a jar with a little water. The green tops will regrow.
Lettuce – Place the core or leaves in a bowl with a bit of water. New lettuce will grow.
Change the water every other day. Harvest greens when they reach 3-6 inches.
With a dash of creativity, you can give many food scraps a second life around the home. Making scrubs, dyes, potpourri, and regrowing vegetables are all great ways to reduce waste. Implement a few of these eco-friendly ideas to make use of ingredients you’d normally throw out.