Cooking at Home More? Here’s What to Do with your Scraps

Maybe, before this all happened, your schedule was so hectic that you only dreamt of meal-planning or home-cooked meals. 

Maybe, before all this, you had your favorite take-out joints saved on your food delivery app, or you met clients for dinner most nights of the week.

But now… a clear trend is emerging. According to a recent survey, 54% of Americans are cooking more in their homes than before the pandemic. 46% are baking more. 

The volume of people making their own meals from scratch hasn’t been seen since the ‘50s.

And health care professionals, grocers, personal trainers, dieticians, and nutritionists alike are rejoicing: Even when you’re cooking “unhealthy” food at home, it’s likelier to be healthier for you than anything you’d eat at a restaurant. 

Which is great news! Not only are we eating healthier by not eating out, but our confidence in cooking and experimenting has increased more than 60%.

That also means that our kitchen scrap output has massively increased. And since 54% of us are cooking more than we have before, we might not really think about how all those scraps impact the world…

You see, according to the EPA, 20-30% of the kitchen scraps we throw away end up in landfills. So what? They’ll decompose there, right?

Wrong. They actually get buried and layered between so many other things that can’t decompose, they have no access to oxygen. That means they rot instead, and release toxic gas (methane).


We could all be using those kitchen scraps to compost.

What is Composting?

Composting is a way to recycle organic materials back into the Earth. Instead of tossing your organic waste in the garbage where it will likely end up in a landfill, you can collect them and allow them to decompose in a bucket, a box, your backyard, etc.

When it decomposes, healthy microorganisms in the compost start to break down the physical matter and turn it into fertilizer for the soil, helping your vegetable garden, flower patch, or even in potted plants.

It’ll look dark and crumbly. But really, it’s packed with nutrients.

When you compost, you eliminate or reduce the need for the fertilizers you get at the garden store (which are loaded with pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals), lowers the occurrence of methane gas production from landfills (thus impacting your personal carbon footprint), AND…

It encourages the production, and therefore eventual introduction to your body, of beneficial bacteria from the formerly living scraps.

We want those bacteria under our fingernails, on our skin, in our guts, and becoming part of the fabric of the food we eat.

Somewhat ironically, human history has led us to this exact moment…

Millenia of trying to outsource the production of the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the furniture we sit on, and the other components of a full life have proven to us that most of the time, we’re sacrificing quality.

And in this case, it’s at a direct detriment to our health. Controlling our food supply from soil to plate helps the environment at large and our own health.

Here’s what you can compost…

Compostable Scraps

It’s just not kitchen scraps. Lots of other things can be composted! But let’s start with…

  • Eggshells
  • Avocado skins
  • Potato skins
  • Coffee grounds (and filters!)
  • Lettuce
  • Nut shells
  • Banana peels 
  • Apple skins
  • Carrot tops and ends
  • Cabbage leaves
  • NOT onion skins, garlic skins, or citrus peels

Now, according to the EPA, a good compost pile should have:

  • Browns
  • Greens
  • Water

We covered greens – those are your kitchen scraps (grass clippings too!)

Let’s talk browns…

  • Dead leaves
  • Twigs
  • Tea bags
  • Cardboard
  • Paper (newspaper, printer, etc.)
  • Yard trimmings
  • Wood chips
  • Saw dust
  • Hay
  • Dryer and vacuum lint
  • Fireplace ashes
  • Hair and fur
  • House plants
  • Straw

That’s a pretty comprehensive list…

But if you do your own research, and find something else you’d like to add, go for it!

Stay tuned, because in a future edition, we’ll talk about various vessels you can use as a compost bin, how to take care of them, and when you know they’re done.

For now, try just getting your compost going by saving scraps or above-mentioned items. 

We’ll get down to the dirty nitty-gritty next week.

Get started on your wellness journey today!

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Dr. Pedram Shojai

NY Times Best Selling author and film maker. Taoist Abbot and Qigong master. Husband and dad. I’m here to help you find your way and be healthy and happy. I don’t want to be your guru…just someone who’ll help point the way. If you’re looking for a real person who’s done the work, I’m your guy. I can light the path and walk along it with you but can’t walk for you.