Here’s something for you to think about. Up to 40% of the food in the United States is never eaten. At the same time, about 95% of the food thrown away ends up in landfills. These facts are very alarming knowing that one out of eight Americans doesn’t even have enough food on the table.
But why is food waste such a big deal? Here’s why.
Wasted food is water lost
The volume of water used in the production of food is immense. It means that if 40% of food in the US is never eaten, the same amount of water used to produce them is also wasted. This is what’s referred to as blue water footprint — the amount of consumed water resources that goes to waste.
Money is thrown away
This one’s a no-brainer. When you throw away the food that you bought, you are wasting money. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that $750 billion is lost annually due to food wastage.
Loss of Biodiversity
Slash and burn, deforestation, conversion of wild areas into farmlands — all of these activities are done to maximize agricultural yields. Because of these, natural habitats of animals are lost and YET, a lot of food is wasted.
Acceleration of climate change
Food waste generates 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, food waste is the third biggest contributor to greenhouse gases. This results in accelerated climate change — something that everyone should care and do something about. You’ll want to start by reducing your carbon footprint, which cutting your food waste can help with!
What you can do to help
In fact, reducing food waste should start from your home. It takes practice and a lot of discipline. If you truly want to help save the environment, the time to do it is NOW.
Check your fridge before you shop
It’s not that you’re wasting food on purpose. It’s just that you’re doing it out of habit and only realize it when it’s already too late. One of the reasons why food is wasted is because people don’t check their fridge before they go shopping.
All it takes is a few minutes. Check what you still have especially foods that can still be used. Also, practice the ‘first in, first out’ method — arrange your food in such a way that the ‘old’ is placed in front while the newly bought food stays in the back.
And while you’re at it, stop the habit of ‘refrigerator gazing.’ Unnecessarily peeking inside your fridge wastes energy and money at the same time. Make up your mind before you open that fridge!
Buy only what you need
A lot of people already have the habit of making a list of things to buy at the supermarket. It’s not bad, and it’s only logical to do so. However, the problem is you tend to veer off course especially when you see specials or discounts.
This is where a lot of discipline comes into play. It takes time to get rid of the habit, but you’ll get there for sure. Until then, try to always stick to buying ONLY what you have on your list.
Compost kitchen scraps
If you own a garden, you’re on the right track towards living the green life. However, it defeats the purpose if you’re using chemical fertilizers to feed your plants. Instead, start composting your kitchen scraps to turn into natural fertilizer.
Food scraps and kitchen junk are great for your compost pile. From tea bags to fruit peelings, apple cores, and pretty much anything that’s in your kitchen — all of these can be used for composting.
After all, food waste can never be reduced to zero. So if you really can’t help but throw food away, better throw in the compost bin instead so it won’t end up in landfills.
As with the saying, “Different folks, different strokes,” the same can be said when it comes to food. Only this time, it’s about storage. Knowing the proper ways to store food can greatly affect how long it’ll stay fresh and edible.
Mastering this technique will significantly reduce your food waste. Be warned though: You’re probably in for many surprises along the way — especially if you’ve been storing your food the wrong way your entire life.
Understand what expiry labels mean
Sometimes (or probably most of the time), the reason why you’re throwing away food is because of the expiry date. After all, who, in their right minds, would be eating something that’s no longer safe to eat?
But the truth is, you’ve been throwing away food that’s still good and safe (if that makes you feel more secure). Know the difference between ‘use by date’ and ‘best before date.’
Use by date – these are the dates that you should be more focused on. Foods SHOULD NOT be eaten after the ‘use by date’ for health and safety reasons.
Best before date – on the other hand, foods that are already past this date can still be eaten. They are perfectly safe, but they may have lost some quality. If in doubt, you can always smell or taste them before you gobble them up.
Give leftovers a chance
If you accidentally prepared too much food, chances are they’ll be leftovers. Eventually, you’ll forget that they’re in the fridge and goes into the bin after you discover they exist. That’s the usual scenario in most homes.
However, give them a second chance. You can eat them the next day when you go to work or school. Additionally, you can put labels on them to keep track of how long they’ve been kept. But if you’re not a fan of eating the same food again, there are a lot of different websites that provide great recipes for leftovers.
- Learn to preserve foods through fermenting and pickling.
- Don’t throw away ‘ugly-looking’ foods like fruits as they taste equally the same.
- Blend up stems, ends, and peels of produce and turn them into a smoothie.
- You can also add a twist to your tasteless water by throwing in peels from fruits.
- Keep your serving sizes in check.
- Overripe avocados mixed with honey can be used as a natural face mask.
- Additionally, coffee grounds with a little sugar and olive oil make an all-organic body scrub.
Simple little things that you do at home can have a huge impact on reducing the problem with food waste. What you can do with food that is supposed to go to waste are endless. So start creating positive change and help conserve natural resources.
Help save the environment.
About the author: Emma is a part-time property developer and blogger. She is passionate about gardening and home improvements; especially environmentally friendly changes that can make your home and the world a healthier place. Check out her blog, Fixtures and Flowers or follow her on Twitter. Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash