Welcome to the STEM Leftovers Lab where we will be exploring what we can do to reduce household waste. First things first - watch the animation below to learn about commonly wasted household food items and about how much food is wasted every year.

Animation by CĂ©cile Robert, Monash Communication Design

Music by: Artlist.io

Voice over by: Annika Spiers

We spend lots of time at home. How can we make sure we eat all the food that we have at home? Why is it important to reduce food waste at home?

We can solve this problem by using our STEM minds and thinking scientifically. By understanding the science behind how foods rot and expire, we can find ways to make them last longer. By increasing the shelf life of food, we can help reduce waste in the household.

Science has shown that there are many ways we can use leftover food to make new foods or products using different scientific techniques. Preservation is the process of keeping things in a good condition, and we can use this with food.

Here is a list of some of the ways we can preserve foods:

Putting it in an airtight container

Storing leftover food in an airtight container increases its shelf-life by preventing oxygen from ruining your food!

Wrapping it with a beeswax wrap

Beeswax wraps are an environmentally friendly alternative to cling wrap. Beeswax wraps are breathable and help to keep your food fresher for longer. Beeswax wraps are also compostable!

Freezing it

Freezing your leftover food increases its shelf-life by preventing nasty bacteria such as mould from growing on your food!

Dehydrating or drying it

Dehydrating involves removing all the water from your food. Leftover foods such as bananas can be dehydrated and turned into banana chips!

Pickling it

Pickling involves placing vegetables such as onions or cucumbers into a jar of vinegar. The vinegar protects the vegetables from bacteria and increases its shelf-life by up to 6 months!

Fermenting it

Similar to pickling, fermenting involves placing food in a sealed container with a liquid like salt water. The liquid prevents bad bacteria from growing and can increase shelf-life by up to 6 months!

Canning it

Canning involves sealing food in a container or jar and then heating it to kill any bad bacteria. Canned food can last up to 5 years!

Making it into a jam

Making jam out of your leftover fruit is not only delicious but it can extend the shelf-life of fruit by up to 1 year!

Making it into a new food: kimchi, banana bread, banana chips

You can use leftovers or overripe foods to put into recipes to make new foods!

Making it into perfume

Leftover fruit and herbs can be used to make perfumes and air fresheners. Fruits and herbs with a strong scent such as lemons, oranges and lavender are perfect.

Now that you have gained some information, it is time to choose your own preservation adventure.

Start by picking a commonly wasted food product:

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The 10 most commonly wasted food products are:

Bread, mince, chicken, cheese, rice, bagged salad, eggs, herbs, carrots, tomatoes


Now that you know the 10 most commonly wasted food products, it is time to jump into some activities!

Acknowledgement of Country:

The STEM Leftovers Lab team acknowledge the Traditional owners of the land on which this website was created, the people of the Kulin Nations, and to their Elders past, present and emerging. We also extend our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands on which learning is taking place, and to any Indigenous people who visit the site.

The land under our feet was never ceded, and will always be sacred to the Aborigional people.