Too Cold to Compost? 4 Ways to Cut Food Waste

Ginny Figlar Colón by Ginny Figlar Colón | February 26th, 2010 | 4 Comments
topic: Green Living

Yes, there is a compost bin under there!

Here in Sweden, we haven’t had temperatures above freezing since Christmas, and our compost bin is frozen shut and buried in snow. So much for winter composting this year. I feel incredibly guilty every time I put an avocado skin or banana peel in the trash. And that’s not even the half of it.

With a toddler, a lot of uneaten food ends up getting tossed. And then there are the occasional leftovers that get “lost” in the back of the refrigerator. Bit by bit, it doesn’t seem like much. But it adds up. According to a University of Arizona study, Americans waste about 14 percent of the food they purchase. That’s about $600 per year for a family of four.

Bad for budgets, yes, but even worse for the planet. Because food that ends up in landfills generates methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 23 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Plus there’s all the water and oil that was used to produce and distribute that food in the first place, which also essentially gets tossed.

With the compost bin out of commission for at least another month, I’m trying to reduce our organic trash in other ways. Here are a few tips that can make a big difference with little effort:

  1. Save the trimmed ends of carrots, onions, peppers, broccoli and root vegetables, and put them in the freezer until you have enough to make vegetable broth.
  2. Label leftovers. Date plastic and glass food storage containers with a wax pencil, so you’re sure to use stored food before it goes bad. (The wax easily washes off.)
  3. Keep it fresh longer — up to five times longer. Vacuum-sealing lids eliminate food-spoiling oxygen.
  4. Store it smarter. If you use half an avocado, keep the pit in the other half; store apples in the fridge; and keep onions in a dark place.


  1. Excellent advice! I made my first-ever vegetable broth last week–yum! Now I’ll have to start saving the scraps from my cut vegetables for the broth, an even better idea!
    Christine Kowalski, editor,

    Christine | March 3rd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  2. You could also try worm composting year round. Here in western Montana we cannot do traditional outdoor composting because of wild animals (especially bears!). This way we can still compost the majority of our food waste indoors (we’ve kept it in our laundry room or garage with no smell issues) and have lots of nutrient rich compost and liquid fertilizer ready for spring.

    Shannon M. | March 3rd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  3. I keep a 5 gallon can by my back door. It is easy to open and and close and holds lots of kitchen waste. It stays cold enought to keep everything from rotting when it’s full, or when the temp goes up a little, I run the bucket out to my compost heap and all is well.

    sls19 | March 3rd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  4. Discovered another one today… giving vegetable scraps to friends with rabbits. (After a friend with rabbits shared that it’s her way of composting.)

    Ginny Figlar Colón | March 11th, 2010 | Comment Permalink

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