5 Simple Ways to Produce Less Food Waste
None of us want to be labeled as food wasters. Yet, here we are.
Approximately 40% of the food produced in the American economy becomes food waste. I don’t know about you, but that statistic knocked me off my feet.
I started thinking about how many times a week I take the garbage out, how an orange with the slightest deformity gets tossed in the trash (yes, I’ve done this and am currently hiding out in my home in shame), and how many times I’ve thrown out food just because I wasn’t sure if it was still good or not (surprisingly, a ton of food is still good past its expiration date).
Basically, the verdict is in: we need less food waste on this planet.
And yes, a large proportion of this food waste comes from big food corporations or companies.
But on an individual level, there are ways to waste less food and even save money. How can we make less food waste? In this article, we’ll find out.
Why is it Important to Produce Less Food Waste?
Now, I know some of you (not all) may be wondering, “who cares?”
You might be thinking that you don’t waste a lot of food, so this really doesn’t apply to you. I was in the same boat. But then, I started really thinking about it. The truth was confronting.
Then there are the facts.
- When you throw out food, you’re wasting your own hard-earned money.
- When you throw out food, you’re contributing to methane gas production in the earth’s atmosphere (this happens when the food you throw out rots away in the landfill).
- When you throw out food, you’re also wasting the abundant amount of water that inevitably went into making that food.
Basically, we can all be more mindful of food waste.
Let’s commit right here and right now to make a change. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be a small pact you make with yourself. It can even just be changing a small habit that you didn’t know had such a vast impact (I’m personally never throwing out another orange ever again!).
Let’s get down to it and dive into how to waste less and other tips to reduce food waste.
How Can We Make Less Food Waste?
1. Only Buy What You Need
Bulk shopping is just oh-so-convenient. You don’t have to go to the store every week. You have food that’ll last a while…or will it?
A few weeks later rolls around, and you’re dumping the food you never ate in the trash. This is where a bunch of us can make a little less food waste happen.
How can you avoid the big trap of the bulk store? It’s pretty simple, and yes, you may need to make multiple grocery store trips (but think about the cost and the environment!).
Only buy what you need. Make a list and stick to that list. Try to use up the food you have before you buy more. Sure, you might not feel like it, but you did buy it. Remember, every little bit counts.
2. Read Those Labels
I don’t mean just the nutrition labels (although read those too, it’s important to know what goes into your food). Also, check the expiration date.
If it expires soon, make sure to determine if you’re going to use it before then. If not, it might be best to get it next time.
3. Store Your Food Correctly
I don’t know how many times I’ve had something go bad because I stored the vegetable or fruit wrong. Does it go in the fridge? Can I leave it out on the counter? These are things we should know. Thanks to Google, it’s never been easier to figure out.
If you’re unsure, you can always look it up!
This will help you plan out how much of each item you truly need and prevent your fruits and veggies from going bad.
Whether it’s Earth Day or not, we should be thinking about engaging in sustainable practices! Read: How Can We Help Reduce Our Environmental Impact?
4. Eat Those Ugly Fruits & Veggies, Plus the Skin
I’ll be the first to confess that this isn’t my strong suit (I also am beginning to feel like this is panning out like some confession novel about me throwing out fruits and veggies). But here’s the cool bit about those bruised apples: You can often get them at discounted prices.
The best part? These “ugly” fruits and veggies are just as good as their flawless counterparts. Plus, food is food. As long as the deformity doesn’t go into the juicy center, you’re probably good to eat it or cook with it.
Additionally, for most fruits and vegetables, there is no reason to remove the skin. If you opt to remove the skin, you can usually use it in another recipe, such as pie. As another example, orange peels add yummy flavored zest to a variety of dishes.
These skins also usually contain a ton of nutrients that you’re missing out on when you toss them in the trash. Try it out.
Hint: Mashed potatoes with the skins included adds a little something-something. I can’t recommend it enough. Just make sure you thoroughly wash it before cooking it.
There are many different ways you can use food scraps, meaning there really isn’t a need to throw out all that much.
5. Don’t Forget About Leftovers
As far as food sustainability tips, this is one that probably every household can implement better. Have a plan for those leftovers!
Are you going to take them for lunch tomorrow? Are you going to include them in tomorrow night’s dinner?
If you don’t make a plan, what often happens is that these leftovers sit in the fridge… until they go bad. Then you have no choice but to toss ‘em! Instead, plan. Plus, leftovers can save you a ton of time and money. You won’t need to buy lunch when you have last night’s dinner ready to be reheated.
BONUS: Learn About Composting
This is a great way to reduce landfill waste and to give your soil a little boost. There are also so many ways to do this within your own home. Composting food waste actually reduces methane as your veggies and fruit break down. This is important since methane is a major greenhouse gas contributor!
Start Making Changes Today
Creating less food waste doesn’t have to be a huge commitment.
Above are some minor and easy changes you can make to reduce your impact. Plus, a ton of these options will only save you money.
You can do this!
In fact, I’m making this pact with you. Never again will I throw out imperfect oranges. Let’s work together to create those changes that our environment and planet so desperately need.
Related article: 5 Simple Ways to Start Composting at Home