Nearly 40 percent of the food the U.S. produces ends up in the trashcan. From there, it rots in a landfill and pollutes our atmosphere with greenhouse gases. Producing that food takes 300 million barrels of oil a year and 25 percent of our freshwater supply.
Yes, you heard that right—in fact, edible food makes up the largest component of our landfills.
That’s the bad news.
Here’s the good news: the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have teamed up and set a goal of reducing food waste by half in the next 15 years.
Who’s responsible for this waste? You might think it’s the grocery stores or restaurants. But they only account for about 10 percent of food waste.
The truth is that people —like you and me— are responsible for nearly 40 percent of the food thrown away. The average American trashes 250 pounds of food a year. But that means this is one instance where our choices can solve the problem.
Here are some tips for reducing food waste in your home.
- Plan your meals. By spending just 10 minutes a week, you can save more than $2,000 a year. Make it a family affair. It can be fun, too—really! Sit down and discuss: what are we going to eat this week? Here’s a link to EWG’s Meal Planner.
Buy what you can eat—no more. Using a shopping list will help and cut down on impulse buys at the grocery store. The faster you shop, the less you spend. Here’s a link to EWG’s Shopping List.
Read sell-by and use-by labels, and know what they mean. Many people think they indicate when food is no longer safe to eat, but they don’t. One-fifth of the food thrown away unnecessarily is because of confusion over dates on the label.
- Preserve produce in the freezer before it goes bad. Those beet greens you were planning to toss into a salad but never got around to? The strawberries and bananas that are just a bit mushy and overripe? Wash, chop and lay flat on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and stick it in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, transfer it to a container for storage.
- Admit it—you’re tired of those leftovers. You’ve served chicken noodle soup three days straight and your family is rebelling. Don’t fret about leftovers; just move them to the freezer. They’ll make a quick meal next week. Freeze, heat and enjoy.
Reduce waste, save money and save the environment. It’s a win-win-win.