Has it been a while since you’ve opened that handy fruits and vegetable drawer in the fridge? Chances are you may be cleaning it out soon and tossing what’s left. Cathy Isom gives us some helpful hints on reducing food waste at home one habit at a time.
Most people don’t realize how much food they throw away every day — from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce. About 95 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities. In 2013, we disposed more than 35 million tons of food waste. Once in landfills, food breaks down to produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.
Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food
- Saves money from buying less food.
- Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
- Conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then landfilling it).
- Supports your community by providing donated untouched food that would have otherwise gone to waste to those who might not have a steady food supply.
Ways to Reduce Wasted Food
Planning, prepping, and storing food can help your household waste less food. Below are some tips to help you do just that:
By simply making a list with weekly meals in mind, you can save money and time and eat healthier food. If you buy no more than what you expect to use, you will be more likely to keep it fresh and use it all.
- Keep a running list of meals and their ingredients that your household already enjoys. That way, you can easily choose, shop for and prepare meals.
- Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home. Will you eat out this week? How often?
- Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and buy only the things needed for those meals.
- Include quantities on your shopping list noting how many meals you’ll make with each item to avoid overbuying. For example: salad greens – enough for two lunches.
- Look in your refrigerator and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have, make a list each week of what needs to be used up and plan upcoming meals around it.
- Buy only what you need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
It is easy to overbuy or forget about fresh fruits and vegetables. Store fruits and vegetables for maximum freshness; they’ll taste better and last longer, helping you to eat more of them.
- Find out how to store fruits and vegetables so they stay fresh longer inside or outside your refrigerator.
- Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables – especially abundant seasonal produce.
- Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other nearby produce spoil faster. Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves, and store fruits and vegetables in different bins.
- Wait to wash berries until you want to eat them to prevent mold.
- If you like to eat fruit at room temperature, but it should be stored in the refrigerator for maximum freshness, take what you’ll eat for the day out of the refrigerator in the morning.
Read more on:
Toolkit for Your Home and Your Community
The Food: Too Good to Waste Toolkit will help you figure out how much food is really going to waste in your home and what you can do to waste less. By making small shifts in how you shop for, prepare, and store food, you can save time and money, and keep the valuable resources used to produce and distribute food from going to waste!
Food: Too Good to Waste also contains an Implementation Guide that is designed to teach local governments and community organizations how to implement a Food: Too Good to Waste campaign in their community using the Toolkit.