1/3 of all food produced goes to waste. That’s 1.3 billion tons of food every year!
Not only is that a huge waste of money and resources, but it actually adds to the pollution problem. It wouldn’t seem that way because natural foods like fruits and veggies would just break down, right? Wrong.
There is not enough air in landfills to properly break down foods. The food just sits there and rots releasing methane which is 20 times more powerful than Co2 which makes it a huge contributor to climate change. (Source)
There are also numerous moral reasons why we feel bad wasting food. Millions of people go to bed hungry every night.
No matter how you look at it, food waste isn’t good. So what do we do about it?
If you’ve found yourself feeling guilty about the food you’ve wasted and want to reduce that number then you’ve come to the right place.
How to reduce food waste:
1. Shop more frequently –
It might seem a little counter-intuitive. Adding one more thing to your already busy life. But you know what they say about our eyes being bigger than our stomachs? This goes for shopping too.
Everything looks good in the store. New things to try, getting more than we need, “stocking up”. A lot of foods, namely fruits and vegetables can spoil within a few days.
So if you’re only shopping every few weeks, your food goes bad before it’s time to go shopping again.
Try shopping once a week and only stocking up for the week. This way all your food is consumed before it has the chance to go bad.
2. Check your fridge/cupboard before shopping –
I think we’ve all been in the situation of buying something we already have in our cupboard or forgetting something we really need.
Take account of everything you already have and base your week’s meal and shopping list around what you have.
Have a can of chickpeas about to expire? Plan a meal around that and add the things to your list that you would need for that meal.
3. Don’t buy things just because they’re on sale…or do –
Especially when it comes to produce, dairy and meat products which are reduced when they’re about to expire.
A simple rule of thumb is if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. But if you do need it, look for it on sale.
If soon expiring products aren’t sold in time they are thrown away. Aka, food waste.
If you’re in need of it, buy it and use it before it goes to waste.
4. Don’t be afraid to buy funny-looking fruits/veggies –
Funny looking fruits and veggies are often discarded and end up going to the landfill. I promise they still taste the same even if they have a few lumps or weren’t grown perfectly.
5. Store food properly –
I’ll have a whole post on this soon but in the meantime, do some research and learn how to store your food properly.
Veggies like carrots and celery do the best standing in some water in the fridge. The same goes for herbs like parsley and chives.
Potatoes and onions do good in cool, dark areas.
You can freeze veggies and sauces to prevent them from going bad too soon.
6. Don’t peel what doesn’t need to be peeled –
Have you ever wondered why you’re peeling that vegetable? Vegetable peels are another form of food waste.
If properly washing a lot of vegetables like carrots, cucumbers or zucchinis don’t actually need to be peeled. The same could be said for fruits like apples.
7. Reuse scraps –
If you do peel your veggies you can always put those peels and other veggie scraps to good use by making veggie broths, puree or anything else you can imagine!
8. Try not to make more than you can eat, unless you’re sure you’ll eat the leftovers –
Again, our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs. Unless you’re a big fan of leftovers, try to learn what your portions are.
9. Properly seal things in the fridge –
Forget that plastic wrap itself is terrible for the environment, it also doesn’t do that great of a job at preserving food.
Silicon baggies, beeswax wraps, and good old fashion Tupperware or glassware are best as they have air-tight seals.
10. Cut around bad spots –
Just because a banana has a black spot or your cheese has a small mold spot doesn’t mean it has to go to waste.
If at all possible, cut around the bad spot and enjoy the rest of the product!
11. Don’t wash fruit until you’re ready to eat them –
Pre-washing your veggies can actually make them spoil faster. In addition, bacteria can grow on your food while it’s being stored so it’s just best to wash before you eat it.
12. Keep berries in an air-tight container –
Berries usually come in those plastic containers with the ventilation holes so it’s widely assumed that they need ventilation. But that’ not the case. In the fridge, they’ll last a lot longer if they’re in an airtight container.
13. Buy frozen fruits and veggies –
It might seem wasteful to buy frozen fruits and veggies since they come in plastic bags. But we’re looking at two evils. And when the fruits and veggies you buy keep going to waste before you get to eat them, it may be time to start buying them frozen.
Not only do they last longer but they can be cheaper as well.
14. Start a compost –
It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. You can buy a cheap countertop compost bin or make your own using an air-tight container to minimalize the smell.
Throw your scraps in and use them in your garden or see if your town has a compost service!
Composting is such a significant way to help combat climate change.
I hope this encourages you to take the steps that work for you to create less food waste. So much waste can be prevented simply by taking a few conscious steps.
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