In my fridge, there is usually a container I keep my scraps in. The bits that some people might whirl down the disposal or throw in the compost bin--onion ends, root vegetable peels, the stalks of greens, mushroom stems, tomato guts and seeds, produce that had perhaps gone a bit too past its prime to eat on its own. These are gold. After a week or so, I have collected enough endly goodness (along with a couple smashed garlic cloves, bay leaf, peppercorns, and whatever herbs I have lying around) to make a giant pot of broth. Just add water and boil for 15 minutes. Yayyyyy. Look ma, I just turned trash into scratch.
Yep, making broth from basically nothing, what I normally may have tossed in the garbage, really excites me. It's kind of like finding money on the sidewalk. Okay, it's not like that at all, except you really are saving between two to four bucks for every four cups produced. And this, people, is fun for me! Then there's the added bonus of having complete control over sodium content (the only time I add "salt" is when I add a strip of kombu for flavor) and the flavor of your broth. I freeze it in ice cube trays for later (aren't I just clever as hell?). When you've got broth with loads of flavor and no added salt, you can use it as a base in so many recipes, replace the water in dishes, lube up your cooking pans with it instead of oil.
Guess what? You can still compost the boiled veggie guts after you strain your broth from the pot. Amazeballs.
There is beauty in this process. It is salvage, green, nourishing. It is as much an art form as baking a loaf of bread (we'll get to that later). It's sustainable living, and when you subsist on a plant-based diet, you're truly missing out if you don't take advantage of all parts possible.
If you are lucky enough to have a vegetable garden, you really are closing the circle. I don't. I would try it if we had a patio larger than a matchbook, or a backyard, but alas even then it would be highly likely that I might kill any plants if I touched them. I have a black thumb. But that's also another story...