Urban Sustainability Agent It’s a fact that Americans enjoy a disposable way of life. From cups to paper towels to cans and bottles, we are a throwaway culture. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there, we also throw away a lot of food. Did you know that reducing food waste saves money and resources?
The “food-print” analysis of the average American reveals that on average, a family of four will spend about $190 a week on food and throw away 40% of it. That’s a loss of $76 a week or $3,952 a year!
Feeding the still growing U.S. population requires an enormous amount of land and resources. If you consider the added costs for water and fuel to produce and transport food, you’ll realize that billions of dollars are lost when we throw away food. Last month, the Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that almost $165B is set aside to produce food that will be thrown out! These staggering statistics should encourage us to be more mindful of what we purchase, how much we actually consume, and how much gets thrown out.
To reduce food waste, try one of the tips below.
Shop wisely (at the grocery store) – Avoid “impulse buys” and definitely don’t buy more than what you need. If you see items on sale, perishable or not, and you “stock up” but don’t use the item and the food is thrown away, then your “potential” dollar savings is also thrown away.
Use Leftovers – If you eat out, be sure to take home your leftovers, they’ll make a good second meal for lunch or dinner the next day. You can also freeze it if you don’t plan to consume immediately. I recommend removing the leftovers from the restaurant packaging and placing in a freeze-proof container. Better yet, take your own container to the restaurant for your leftovers.
If you eat in and made extra portions for dinner, be sure to package for lunch or freeze for consumption later in the week or month.
Appearance Guilt – As consumers, we are often drawn to the perfect tomato, green pepper or apple but did you know that imperfect fruit and vegetables have the same nutritional value as their perfect counterparts? You may even be able to get a reduced price for these items at a farmers’ market because of the shape or size.
Shop your fridge or pantry – If you have items in your refrigerator that may be approaching the “use by” date or multiples of one item in the pantry, be sure to use these to create interesting new dishes. Visit the Solutions for Your Life website for new recipes.
Compost - To use your waste for a good purpose, start a compost heap to manage your food scraps. More information on the benefits of composting is available here.
For more tips on curbing food waste, check out the resources provided below.