Creative waste solutions

Whatever creativity is, it is in part a solution to a problem. — Brian W. Aldiss

Like to problem-solve? How about 254 million tons of municipal solid waste? That’s the amount we Americans generate in a year — close to five pounds per person per day!

It’s impossible to imagine what that much waste even looks like, but people everywhere are imagining creative ways to reduce and transform it. From new ideas shared at public events like the recent PCC-sponsored Seattle Green Festival, to new uses for leftovers in our own kitchens, inspired waste problem-solving abounds.

Trash to treasures

Many examples of garbage creatively made into useful, attractive items by Northwest entrepreneurs were on display throughout the Green Festival, including:

Bellingham, Wash. artist Kuros Zahedi — who is creating a work of art that incorporates a year’s worth of one man’s garbage to debut at Bumbershoot in Seattle this September — was at the festival, talking about his unique solution to everyday trash. Visit for more about local people and companies creatively solving the problem of waste.

Better the next day

The New York Times reported last year that in our country an estimated 27 percent of food available for consumption — about one pound per person daily — is wasted. The blame is shared by restaurants, food stores and consumers who throw out edible food because of cosmetic blemishes or spoilage, or maybe because they haven’t a clue what to do with leftovers.

PCC has partnered with non-profits and community organizations, such as Community Resource Network, for many years to extend the life of good food that, because of pull-date restrictions, can’t be sold but is still completely safe for human or animal consumption. And thanks to new residential solid waste collection services from Seattle Public Utilities, all food waste (including meat, dairy, fish and bones) generated by many PCC shoppers can go into their food and yard waste carts weekly, destined for a second life as compost and mulch for local parks and gardens.

And leftovers? If not ignored or forgotten and eventually doomed to resemble science experiments gone bad, there are infinite ways to get creative and make cooked once-eaten twice (or more) food so irresistible you wouldn’t dream of wasting it. With common leftovers such as cooked meat and vegetables from your refrigerator, and very little time, it’s easy to create delicious meals using PCC recipes.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Leftover cooked local asparagus can be incorporated into:

Leftover cooked grains are particularly easy to mix with dried fruit and seeds for an easy breakfast, tossed with grated raw vegetables such as carrots or cabbage for a quick salad, and just about any leftover meat or stew tastes great wrapped in a corn or whole-wheat tortilla.

Share your creativity

Creativity not only makes solutions to problems like waste more fun; it makes them possible. What are some of your ideas for reducing and transforming waste? Let us know and we’ll share them with our readers.

More about: food waste, LEED certified, organic food, sustainability

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Image courtesy of Ballokai Bags

What are your ideas?

Let us know your creative solutions for reducing and transforming waste and we’ll share them with our readers.

Ideas? Contact:
Diana Chapman
Director of Sustainability

Learn more