Food Waste: A Forgotten Climate Change Contributor

Did you know that, according to the EPA, on average you throw away over 200 pounds of perfectly good food every year? Think about that, you throw away the food equivalent of a six and a half foot male every single year under the guise that this food is no longer usable.

What if I told you that majority of that food was still usable? Allow me to explain.

What is food waste?

Food waste is the food we buy from grocery stores and order at restaurants that ends up in landfills, therefore releasing methane gas into the environment and contributing to global warming. It currently accounts for approximately 30-40% of the total food supply in the United States and about 21% of all of our landfills.

Some of this food waste is unavoidable as spoilage can occur during any phase of production and supply: Equipment malfunction, insects, rodents, birds, molds, over-ordering, bacteria, and the culling of blemished produce can all contribute in their own way. However, some of it can be utilized in different ways.

So, what can you do?

There are a TON of options you have when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint through food waste: Buying less, using your scraps, and donating unopened or unused food are all simple yet effective ways to lessening the impact of food waste. Below some suggestions have been broken down by actions you can take now, things you can do in the next week, and some simple habits you can add in before your next grocery trip.

Right now

  • Clean out your fridge, reducing the clutter helps you better understand what food you have and what you need, and remember to FIFO (First In, First Out).
  • Make sure your food is being stored properly. If you don’t know how to store something to avoid it spoiling prematurely, try this website as a guide or use Google.
  • Drink more water! Studies show that this can help curb your hunger and therefore reduce how much food you buy and consume. And, if you have some fruit that looks less than perfect, try adding that into your water for more flavor!
  • Learn the difference in “use by,” “sell by” and “best buy” dates when it comes to your food; as it turns out these are astronomically different. Read more about it here.

This Week

  • Learn how to pickle, dry, can, ferment and freeze your food to save it longer.
  • Save your leftovers and invest in some reusable food storage containers. I prefer Pyrex due to their wonderful versatility.
  • Be creative with your cooking! There are always new ways you can utilize yesterday’s leftovers for today’s meals. Pinterest is the best place to see what unique ways others have repurposed their leftovers!
  • Start saving your scraps! This link here can show you how to use the scraps from bananas, citrus fruits, avocados, potatoes and coffee grounds for your regular beauty routine. Or, save scraps to make homemade broth for a simple crockpot soup.
  • Save your yolks because they’re excellent for a hair mask! Just don’t rinse it out using hot water or your egg will cook.
  • Eat the skins, they’re shockingly good for you.
  • Try the seeds! Pumpkin and squash both have delicious seeds that can be roasted to make an excellent and easy weekly snack!

Before Your Next Grocery Trip

  • Try composting! There are multiple locations across the state that will take your scraps and compost them for you.
  • Before you head out to get your groceries, try meal planning for the week. Making a list of what you need from the grocery store rather than going with your gut can not only save you money, but it will prevent you from buying things you don’t need.
  • Shop smart by sticking to your list and, if you can swing it, try making multiple trips to the store each week.
  • If you plan to make smoothies or freezer meals, buy some of the “ugly” food. It’s still edible and you can help reduce the environmental impact of your local grocer.
  • Just in case, try making a weekly food shelf trip prior to getting new groceries. This will help reduce clutter in your home and it could help someone who is struggling with food insecurity.

Have other suggestions for using food scraps? Please share in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.