It is staggering how much food waste ends up in landfills. In the United States, food is the number one product in landfills. If food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of green house gasses. Globally we are throwing out around 300 million tones annually. This is more than the food production of sub-Saharan Africa and would be enough to feed approximately 870 million people. Yes, waste represents a loss of resources, and the treatment and disposal of it causes environmental pollution. Ultimately, everything we consume becomes waste in some form, so here are some everyday tips to reducing your household food waste. Remember every little bit helps!
- Plan Ahead
Create a weekly meal plan before you do your shopping. Research suggests that we could be throwing away up to one third of the food we buy. Not only is this wasteful, it’s expensive. Creating a meal plan involves planning what you and your household will eat in a given week before you go to the store. You can download a free template online or search on Pinterest, Megan from With Salt and Wit created ‘How to Meal Plan for a Month in 30 Minutes’ which can help you get started.
- Meatless Mondays
Reducing your meat consumption even just for one day a week can have a major impact on your health and the environment. Not only is a good for you and reduces your risk of chronic disease including heart disease, it also helps conserve water, energy and lessens greenhouse gas emission which are accelerating climate change. If you want to do more, go vegetarian weekday or try vegan one day a week. Start small and grow because every little bit helps.
- BYO Lunch
We are all busy, but with a little prep-work the night before you can pack a lunch and have it ready to go. Think of all the packaging that wont be going into a landfill.
- Freezer Fridays
Each week go through the fridge and have a left over day, that way less things go bad. Be conscious of expiry dates and use those items first. For us, this is Friday. Freeze items that you can and make a note to try and reduce the amount of food you throw out each week. You can freeze almost anything and it’s akin to hitting the pause button if they are about expire. You know you can freeze bread, milk, and cheese (helpful hint: grate it first). Personally, I love freezing bananas before they go bad and then using them for smoothies in the morning when I’m in a hurry and need to grab something and go. You can even freeze eggs, but separate the yolks from the whites first. In addition, invest in good food storage solutions; if you store your food properly it will last longer.
- Reduce, Reuse, Re-purpose, Recycle and Compost
Learn how to divert waste from the landfill. First decrease the amount of packaging your buy, reuse items wherever possible. Get creative and re-purpose items in your kitchen and recycle the rest. Composting is a great way to turn your food into soil if you have the space. If you don’t there are other alternatives. We put all of our organic waste into a Bokashi Bin. Bokashi is good for small spaces and ‘pickles’ your food waste, to produce nutrient-rich compost that you can dig into your garden. When you separate out recycling and organic waste, you would be surprised how little garbage you have. Lastly, research where to properly dispose of items batteries, unusable cords, and old electronic devices.
Look into seeing if you have any food rescue, food-to-soil or food sustainability program in your local community that you can get involved with. We are lucky enough to live on an island with a lot of people passionate about reducing food waste. Every little bit helps, creating a meal plan alone decrease waste by 15%. Adopting even one of these habits helps both the planet and your wallet so I hope you make even a small change today.
Learn more about food waste here: ‘The Big Waste: Why Do We Throw Away So Much Food’.
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