Five Tips for Preventing Food Waste at Home

Did you know that roughly 1/3 of the food produced in the U.S. is never eaten? According to a 2021 report from the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly a quarter of the solid waste in our land fills is food waste. What’s more is that as that food waste decomposes in our landfills, it represents as much as 8% of manmade greenhouse gas emissions. By decreasing food waste, we have the potential to reduce the need for new food production, as well as make a positive impact on projected deforestation, biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and water scarcity. While that might sound like a big task, it all begins at the individual household level and by working together, we can do BIG things. 

Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful is proud of the role we play with our partners at Gwinnett County Public Schools by teaching young learners about food waste and sustainability through programs like Food Waste Warriors, Plant It Forward and Compost Connectors. We’d like to extend that same spirit of education to our neighbors by providing five easy ways you can start reducing food waste at home as soon as TODAY…

  1. Menu Plan: It’s always good to have a plan. Get in the habit of determining how much food you’ll need for meals by nailing down recipes you plan to make throughout the week. Have family members weigh in on their favorites to ensure that they clean their plates. 
  2. Never Shop Without a List: Once you’ve planned your weekly menu, it should be easy to determine which ingredients you’ll need to make those recipes. Don’t forget healthy snacks that everyone enjoys for in between meals. When shopping, pay close attention to expiration dates to make sure you’ll have time to prepare and consume those foods before they expire. If you shop without a list, you’re more likely to overbuy by “winging it.” If you find that you overbought or that you purchased nonperishable items that don’t go over big with your family members, find a food pantry in your community to donate those items to families in need who will appreciate them.
  3. Fall in Love with Leftovers: Whether you prepare more than you need on purpose or on accident, chances are, you’ll wind up with leftovers from time to time. Make sure there’s no stigma attached to leftovers in your household. Last night’s casserole might make a great lunch today. If you grill a bunch of chicken breasts or prepare a few pounds of ground beef, find creative ways to use them differently later in the week.
  4. Explore Storage Options: To ensure that your leftovers are safe to eat after several days of storage, you’ll want to have a stockpile of airtight reusable containers. While plastic baggies might be an easy option, their negative impact on the environment can’t be overlooked. It’s also important to know the best way to store fresh food. Fruits and veggies – particularly those that can wilt – last longer in the designated high-humidity drawer, typically marked “produce.” The refrigerator door is the warmest part of your fridge, so you shouldn’t store milk or eggs there. The bottom shelf is typically the coolest part of your fridge, so it’s ideal for storing meat, poultry and fish.
  5. Start a Compost Pile: Even with all the measures listed above in place, there will still be times when food goes to waste. A compost pile is the ideal answer for food scraps. As those organic materials break down, they make a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden. Click HERE to learn how to start a compost pile in your own backyard.

Need a little more convincing?  Here are a few more eye-opening stats…

  • Uneaten food contains enough calories to feed more than 150 million people each year. That’s more than FOUR TIMES the estimated 35 million Americans who are food insecure.
  • The average family of four spends $1,500 each year on food that ends up uneaten.
  • Wasted food results in wasted resources used to produce it like agricultural land, water and energy – as well as pesticides and fertilizer that treated crops.

Sources: https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2021-11/from-farm-to-kitchen-the-environmental-impacts-of-u.s.-food-waste_508-tagged.pdf 

https://www.epa.gov/recycle/preventing-wasted-food-home

https://www.epa.gov/recycle/preventing-wasted-food-home

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