Food waste has become a global concern. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 31% of the average food supply, or 133 billion pounds, is wasted yearly. Throwing away edible food is not just a waste of money and resources; it also contributes to greenhouse gas generation, which has adverse implications such as climate change.
But the good news is that we can all help minimize wasted food, resources, and money by improving how we plan, shop, and cook our meals. Discover ways to reduce food waste at home, work, and on the go, and be one step closer to living a zero-waste lifestyle.
1. Shop Wisely
Make a grocery shopping list to avoid impulse purchases. This way, you'll be more sure to buy the stuff you require and are likely to eat. Purchase items that you only plan to use, then wait until you deplete the perishables before acquiring others from the grocery store.
2. Purchase What You Require
Don't buy an entire bag of carrots if a recipe only calls for two. Alternatively, buy loose vegetables, nuts, spices, and grains in bulk bins to weigh what you require and avoid overbuying. There's a distinction between bulk buying and shopping from bulk bins; the former can result in more additional trash if you purchase more than you can consume before it goes bad. But the latter will help you take only what you need and save money.
3. Be Pragmatic
Think about what you need based on the number of people you are feeding and your lifestyle. A family of four that eats meals together will need a lot more groceries than a couple that eats out often. Also, consider your style of cooking before stocking up on items that you might not end up using.
4. Purchase Imperfect Produce
A lot of fresh produce is discarded since their color, size, or shape don't conform to their expectations of what they "should" appear. But, generally, these foods are good, and purchasing imperfect food will help reduce food loss. There are even companies that specialize in produce boxes of fruits and vegetables with quirky looks and odd shapes, often for less than you would pay at a grocery store.
5. Assess the Problem
Look through your fridge and pantry and list out the foods you already have in the house approaching expiration dates. Prepare meals around them. Keeping a list of what's in the refrigerator and when you freeze each product is also a good idea. Stick it on the fridge door for a quick glimpse at meal time.
6. Check the Refrigerator
Is your refrigerator running? Well, then you better go catch it! In all seriousness, confirm that your fridge is running sufficiently. Examine the fridge for proper temperature, tight seals, and other factors that will help it preserve the food for as long as necessary.
7. Practice FIFO
This abbreviation means "first in, first out." Move older foodstuff to the front of the pantry, freezer, or fridge and new ones to the back when unpacking groceries. This way, you'll find yourself using up the older stock before it spoils.
8. Use More Efficient Storage Bags
If you frequently throw out stale crackers, cereals, chips, or other foods, try storing them in sealed containers to extend their shelf life. Also, consider buying fewer of these items if you often notice that you're throwing them away before using them.
9. Store Foods in the Right Place of the Refrigerator
Understand how and where to store food in the fridge, and they'll stay longer. For instance, use the "produce drawer" to store your fruits and vegetables. It offers a more humid environment than the rest of your fridge as that humidity retention causes fruit and vegetables to wilt more slowly.
10. Canning or Pickling
Do you have an abundance of produce that you're thinking of tossing away? Canning or pickling them will retain their freshness for months. It's a great way to make use of vegetables like cucumbers, or fruit like peaches, that might go bad before you eat them.
11. Repurpose Scraps from Previous Cooking
Make homemade stocks with meat and vegetable scraps, and flavor other dishes with citrus zest and rinds.
12. Monitor What You Throw Away
Set aside a week to keep track of everything you toss away regularly. Getting rid of half a loaf of stale bread per week? Perhaps you should start freezing half of that loaf as soon as you purchase it so it doesn't go bad before you can enjoy it.
13. Have a Backup Plan
Suppose you purchase Camembert to make a gourmet meal for your friends, only for them to cancel on you. Don't throw the cheese away! Instead, get online and utilize websites where you can input ingredients to find a delicious recipe you can use it for.
14. Don't Toss Away Leftovers
If you don't want to consume leftovers the next day, freeze them and keep the leftover food for another time. Popping a sticky note with the date you froze the excess food on your container is a great way to remind yourself of how fresh the food is.
15. Designate a "Use-it-Up" meal
When you're starting to get to the end of your groceries, get creative with the leftovers and foods that might otherwise go unused. There are plenty of great websites that can help you make a full meal out of the ingredients you have on hand.
16. Make Full Use of all Products
When cooking, if possible, use every bit of whatever item you're working with. Don't grate off the peel on cucumbers or potatoes. In fact, our bodies benefit from the additional nutrients found in the skins and stems of vegetables.
17. Keep Over-Stayed Produce
You don't have to throw out fruits and vegetables just because it's past their prime. If your fruits or vegetables have just started to become overripe or wilt, but haven’t necessarily gone bad, they may still be used in other preparations. Make delicious banana bread using overripe bananas, or homemade pesto sauce using those recently wilted basil leaves. You’d be surprised of all the things you can make with over-stayed produce.
Do you despise potato skins? Don't feel like making soup out of wilting vegetables? Relax; you don't have to throw the food scraps away. To turn organic waste into a helpful resource, learn how to make a compost bin and establish a compost heap in your backyard if you have one.
19. Share Anything You Won't Eat
Are you sure you won't eat that can of beans? Before it spoils, please give it to a food pantry or local food bank so that the people in need can eat it. Similarly, there are often farmers near you will gladly accept food scraps to feed their pigs or for compost.
20. Listen to Your Stomach
Research proves that limiting serving sizes is a simple way to reduce food waste. Understand what and the amount of food your body wants, and then offer yourself that. Start with a smaller portion than you're used to and wait to see if you feel satisfied before eating more. It's often better to eat a pre-portioned amount rather than eating off a full plate until you feel full.
21. Don't use a tray
You reduce food waste by skipping the tray, especially when eating in any food joint. This practice makes it challenging for people to take more food than they consume.
22. Divide the Meal Into Half
If you're eating out with a pal, divide the dish between yourselves to avoid squandering as restaurants tend to oversize portions. You can also give the extra portion of the casserole you made to neighbors or friends, and they'll appreciate the time and money saved.
23. Take Leftovers Home
If you're out in a restaurant, request the servers pack your leftover food. You earn extra environmental points if you provide a reusable container! Take them home, and you'll have a free meal the next day.
24. Educate Others
Take some of the lessons you've learned here today and share them with friends to encourage them to reduce their food waste.
Why Is It Important to Reduce Food Waste?
By contributing to food waste reduction, you can:
Each year, the average household of four wastes $1,500 on food that goes uneaten. When you're cautious about food preservation, learn to only purchase whatever you require and eat what you purchase. In the process, you’ll cut back on your food waste and your bills.
Conserve Resources and Energy
Reducing food waste saves the energy, water, land, and other resources used in production, processing, transportation, preparation, storage, and disposal.
Take Care of the Environment
Food waste is ditched in landfills, where it decomposes and emits methane, the second most recurring greenhouse gas. In other words when it comes to how to be more eco-friendly, minimizing food waste will help avert climate change, a significant worldwide issue that we are attempting to address.
Protect the Water Reserves
According to the World Resources Institute, food waste accounts for 24% of water lost globally, equating to 45 trillion gallons (approximately 170 trillion liters). In North America specifically, improper preparation, wasted, uneaten foods and food spoiling are the main contributors to water loss. When you acquire the right amount of food and cut back on food waste, you save water that others could put to better use.
25. From Harvest to Serving You, Sambazon Helps to Reduce Waste at All Costs
Sambazon is committed to reducing food waste, which is why we are conscientious about our packaging for our Açaí products. This packaging allows us to reduce food waste by keeping the food safe for a long time. Additionally, through our supply chain technology, we can monitor every step of the food's journey, from when our fair trade produce is hand-harvested to when it's shipped.
Learn more about our Packing Eco-mmitment in our blog and be sure to check out our film, Seeding Change: The Power of Conscious Commerce to further educate yourself on the importance of voting with your dollar and how we all can protect our planet, one purchase at a time. Even more than our packaging, we manage our inventory carefully to reduce as much waste as possible and the waste that we do have we work with recycling partners to have it reused or recycled. Together, we Açaí!
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 15 quick tips for reducing food waste and becoming a Food hero. https://www.fao.org/fao-stories/article/en/c/1309609/
- US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Tips to Reduce Food Waste. https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/tips-reduce-food-waste
- The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Food: Material-Specific Data. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-material-waste-and-recycling/food-material-specific-data