Cooking Zero-Waste? It Won’t Compromise Taste.

Yesterday, I opened my fridge to find that a lemon I had bought a few weeks ago at the grocery store had gone mouldy. Immediately, I threw it out, and didn’t think too much about it. Today, I’m trying to think back to why I had that lemon in the first place. Why had I bought it, kept it in my fridge for a few weeks, and then wasted it? And tomorrow is Earth Day, so join me in preventing more mouldy lemon waste with some tips at the end of this post!

1.3 billion tonnes of food are lost or wasted each year around the world1.

And my little lemon directly contributed to that measurement. The more harsh reality is that by 2030, the 1.3 billion tonnes lost or wasted today will become 2.1 billion tonnes instead2. Evidently, this amount of waste is a global problem with social, environmental and economic implications. The 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost and wasted:

  • could recover one-eight of the global undernourished population
  • contributes to 8% of annual green house gas emissions
  • and accounts for the loss of $1 trillion US each year2,3.

Today, Goal 12.3 in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals aims to prevent food waste. Goal 12.3 is “halving per capita global food waste at retail and consumer levels by 2030, as well as reducing food losses along the production and supply chains”4. Currently, producers on the supply side of the food chain work to prevent food losses resulting from storage and transportation, for example. While on the consuming side, markets and households are working to prevent food wastes that are either avoidable or unavoidable.

Worldwide, countries are committed to goal 12.3. In Canada, we follow the trends of a developed country in which a larger proportion of food wastes at the consuming level will occur along with reduced food losses during production. The opposite trend tends to occur in developing countries.

35.5 million tonnes of food are lost or wasted each year in Canada.

Strikingly, this 35.5 million tonnes of food is equivalent to the emission of 56.6 million tonnes of CO25. At the level of a household, this 35.5 million tonnes is equivalent to 79 kg/capita/year of food waste in Canada (that’s about 175 lbs for those like me who don’t know what a kilogram is)6. For you, the average Canadian university student, this means you can make a difference by reducing your own household food wastes!

Image from Love Food Hate Waste Canada7.

63% of Canadian household food wastes are avoidable7.

I don’t expect you, or myself, to go zero waste tomorrow. That can be extremely difficult. But, now that we both know how impactful food waste is on the sustainable development of our world – I want to start us all off on the right foot with some really exciting meal-time hacks for our kitchens. For example, a trick I learned to reduce waste in my kitchen is to use broccoli stalks! They so often are just thrown away, but after shaving off the fibrous exterior of the stalk, the interior is a delicious, nutrient-rich, slightly-sweeter-tasting-than-broccoli snack.

Also, IKEA. I mean, who doesn’t love IKEA. Well now, IKEA has just recently published a free “ScrapsBook.” Seriously, free and available as a pdf right here. In this book, you will come across many fun recipes to reduce your kitchen waste and other hacks. I’m talking, Chocolate and Banana Peel Cake, Stalk Tacos and Don’t-Throw-Out-A-Thing Dumpling Soup.

Next, I wanted to compile a couple zero-waste Chefs. May as well take your finals studying procrastination one step further by checking out their instagram feeds. Make your procrastination educational!

  • @maxlamanna‘s feed is filled with delicious-looking plant-based recipes, (I recently have been eyeing up his vegan butter chicken..) that are good for the planet in more than one way! His cookbook just came out this past year.
  • @zerowastechef has also just recently released a cookbook (as you can tell – food waste prevention is very much a hot topic as per the three new cookbooks I have mentioned) and also shares sourdough recipes to keep your starters alive!

I chose to focus on what you can do in the kitchen for this article, using the food that you already have. The truth is, the first step to preventing food waste is to go look in our fridges right now and stop any additional lemons or other foods from going to waste. Then, we can look to other solutions in preventing household food wastes. This might be buying less to begin with or beginning to compost, for example.


Thank you for taking the time to explore the benefits of preventing food waste in our kitchens! The last benefit I forgot to mention is that you can now make some sweets that you feel slightly less guilty about eating knowing that you’re being eco-conscious… Happy Earth Month!

Megan Jones


  1. Global Food Loss and Waste
  2. Addressing Food Loss and Waste: A Global Problem with Local Solutions
  3. The global economic and regulatory determinants of household food waste generation: A cross-country analysis
  4. Flood Loss and Food Waste
  5. Food Waste in Canada: The Facts
  6. The average Canadian wastes 79 kilograms of food per year, UN report estimates
  7. Love Food Hate Waste Canada

Be sure to check out some other post from the SustainSU Blog Team and our newest project, the “Sustainability Stories” podcast below!


What Makes a Family: Childbearing in the Climate Crisis

I first read that not having children is the best thing you can do for climate change in David Collings’ Stolen Future, Broken Present: The Human Significance of Climate Change:  “The implications are unmistakable: a person who wishes to forestall severe climate change should not bear children…I freely concede that simply thinking this thought is … Continue reading What Makes a Family: Childbearing in the Climate Crisis

Anxious Reflections

Have you ever thought ‘holy crap, how are we ever going to stop climate change?’ This post highlights that anxious thoughts and pessimistic outlooks might not be what being a climate change hero is all about. Hard to believe, I know…

Summer Dreaming Sustainability Stories

As we have recently transitioned to spring, the sun is finally starting to feel warmer and the snow is slowly melting here in Edmonton! In this episode, join us as we eagerly await summer and discuss the sustainable activities that can fit into our pre-existing plans. We hope this episode can help you through any final exam blues and get you thinking about the good that is yet to come!
  1. Summer Dreaming
  2. Feelings of Change
  3. Campus Reflections (Part 2)
  4. Campus Reflections (Part 1)
  5. Lead by Example (Part 2)

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