Everyone knows what a problem food waste can be, as it makes up about 25 percent of our household waste. But the good news is with just a few small changes we can make a huge dent in that number.
More than 40 percent of the food produced for human consumption in the U.S. will never be eaten. Food waste is still rising, having almost doubled since 1974. We are wasting more than 1,400 calories per person per day. That’s almost enough to feed an entire person! Don’t let the news fool you. There is not a food shortage.
Food waste accounts for about 18 percent of municipal solid waste, and what’s even worse is the annual food waste – just at the retail and consumer level – in high-income countries nearly equals the entire annual food production in sub-Saharan Africa.
Here is a great video with more information.
With these tips below, you can drastically reduce the amount of food you waste.
5 Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste
1. Value food. Cheap food caused waste to skyrocket. Food accounts for 13 percent of our total household expenditures, which is low compared to many countries. We don’t think twice about throwing it out, but realizing someone worked hard to get that food to your plate will help you appreciate more and waste less. Don’t stop there; remember to use the whole plant and animal as much as possible.
“Interestingly, research shows that produce with scabs or scars on the surface, may have higher antioxidant levels because the plant mount a defense.”
2. Lose the idea of perfection. Do we really think apples grow from the tree without a blemish, or tomatoes come from the vine without a scar? You would think so based on our shopping habits, but if you grow your food, you’ll see it’s impossible. Interestingly, research shows that produce with scabs or scars on the surface, may have higher antioxidant levels because the plant mount a defense.
3. Plan your meals. Creating a weekly menu, shopping list and cooking just enough food that can be consumed without going bad can really help cut down food waste. Inventory your refrigerator, plan to use the ingredients that expire more quickly, before turning to those that have a longer expiration date. Freeze items, like meat, if you won’t use them before they expire.
An app called Fridge Pal can help you with this. It makes shopping lists, meal planning, tracks expiration dates, and searches for recipes for expiring ingredients.
“…one night a week to clean out the fridge, reheat leftovers and use up items.”
4. Waste not, want not. There’s no need to toss out perfectly good food. Just pack it up for lunch the next day, refreeze items for an easy meal later on, or start a “buffet night” – one night a week to clean out the fridge, reheat leftovers and use up items.
Another great app that can be useful for this tip is Love Food Hate Waste. Keep a track of your shopping within the app and use it to help you reduce the amount of good food you throw away by cooking inventive meals.
5. As a last resort, compost. If food has absolutely no possibility for consumption, then at the very least compost it. By composting food, you save it from the landfill, and put those nutrients to good use. Decomposing food makes a wonderfully rich, natural method of nourishing your soil. Composting can be as simple or as complex as you want.
If you’re interested in learning to compost, but you’re not sure how to get started, Home Compost is a great app and resource. With this app, find out how to use your food scraps to make soil for your garden. It’s available on the Android store, and is the most in depth explanation we’ve seen on an app so far.
Check out this article for more tips to reduce food waste.
Kayla Kamp is on a mission to create awareness for the impacts our daily actions have on the planet and our fellow humans. She blogs at Ever Change Productions, which is edited by her cat, Cheerio. Readers are updated on the progress of her first documentary based in Stillwater, OK and other video projects, along with world changing ideas, other environmental and local issues that grab her attention.
- Waste Not, Want Not: 5 Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste - February 17, 2016