Zero Food Waste: Why And How To Upcycle Food Scraps


What do you think when you hear the word upcycle? What does upcycle mean? What does it have to do with food? Upcycle or upcycling is a practice of creating a useable product from unwanted items or adding value to existing product in some way. To reduce waste and improve efficiency of resources we use is the purpose of upcycling.

Why is it a good idea to upcycle leftover food or food scraps? To put it simply, no amount of food waste is too small. When we upcycle food scraps, we help lower the amount of food waste in America. In 2020 in the United States alone 80 billion lbs of food was thrown away, 40% of the US food supply was wasted, and $1600 worth of produce per family was wasted. (Information from

When we use food scraps, we are reducing methane emissions from landfills and lowering our carbon footprint. We also conserve energy and resources, prevent pollution involved in growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food. How do we upcycle food or food scraps? Well here are some ideas you can start doing at home.

You can save seeds, pits and cuttings from vegetables and fruit to regrow plants at home.

Save, clean, and dried eggshells to use as calcium powder in the garden or to remove limestone deposits in bathroom.

Dice/mince and freeze herb scraps before they go bad. You can also add them to butter/olive oil and freeze in ice cube trays for pre-portioned infused oils.

Use leftover coffee grounds to make a homemade scrub/exfoliant for dry skin or use them in the garden as a soil amendment.

You can also dry citrus peels and add to homemade vinegar cleaning solution for a refreshing citrus scent and added cleaning power from the natural oils.

Make pesto using carrot tops.

Save your vegetable scraps (carrots, onion, garlic skins, potato skins, celery tops, etc.) and/or beef and chicken bones in bag in the freezer to make a rich stock.

All these recipes and fun crafts can be found online. It is a lot of fun to try these different ways to upcycle food scrapes and have a fun science experiment night with the family or with friends. Try different recipes or find other ways to upcycle food. Please feel free to share on the Zero Waste Los Alamos Facebook page or tag us on Instagram @zero_waste_la.