America has a food waste problem. A big one. In 2012, we threw away a fifth of the food that was grown, harvested, and bought, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Here’s another way to imagine that -- each day we throw away enough food to fill up the Rose Bowl stadium.
Not only is this bad for our wallets, it’s bad for the environment. Wasted food can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions when it rots in landfills, not to mention that it takes a huge amount of water and resources to grow and produce this food in the first place.
The good news? It’s not difficult for the average consumer to cut down on their personal food waste. With a little planning and mindfulness, it’s easy to throw away less. Challenge yourself by keeping track of what you throw out, and try to waste less each day or week. This week, Nov. 17 to 21, is the EPA’s Food Recovery Week of Action, so you won’t be alone in your efforts.
Here are 11 tips to help you get started. Businesses and restaurants can get more tips or join the competition at the Food Recovery Challenge website.
1) Learn how long foods will keep so they don’t spoil before you plan to use them.
2) Make a grocery list for the week and shop on a full stomach to avoid impulse purchases.
3) Don’t buy more of something just because it’s cheaper to buy in bulk. But do check out the bulk foods section, where you can buy just as much or as little as you need.
4) Put new groceries in the back of your fridge or pantry, so you’ll use older food first, before it expires.
5) Learn to reuse food for another meal.
6) Use all of your produce by getting creative.
7) Go trayless when eating at cafeterias - you’ll waste less when you can't take as much food at once.
8) Take home your leftovers -- a lot of food is wasted in restaurants too.
9) Learn what to freeze and what not to. Or, if you want to get really advanced, learn to pickle or can fruits and veggies.
10) Learn to compost food scraps or see if there's composting service in your area.
11) Donate food you know you won’t use in time (find out how here).