Food waste is a major problem, bigger than you may realize.
Almost one-third of all food produced on Earth is discarded or wasted for a whole number of reasons. This means almost 1.3 billion tons of food wasted every year!
The United States is the global leader in food waste, with Americans discarding nearly 40 million tons of food every year. That's 80 billion pounds of food gone to the trash. Approximately 219 pounds per person.
Tossing edible food doesn’t just waste money. Discarded food is sent to landfills, where it rots and produces methane gas, which is the second most common greenhouse gas. In other words, throwing out your food contributes to climate change.
Although these numbers may seem overwhelming, you can help reduce this harmful practice by following these few easy tips. Every little bit helps.
1. Shop Smart
Most of us buy more food than we need. Although buying in bulk can be convenient, research shows that this practice leads to more waste. To avoid buying more than you need, buy only what you need and not just bulk up on sale items. Make a point to use all the food you buy during your last trip to the store before buying new groceries. Try making a list of items that you absolutely need and stick to it. This will help save a few dollars in your wallet as well as the environment.
2. Store Food Correctly
Improper storage leads to massive waste. About two-thirds of household food waste is due to food spoilage. Many people are not sure how to store fruits and vegetables properly, which lead to premature ripening and, eventually, rotten produce. For example, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers and onions should never be refrigerated. These items should be kept at room temperature.
3. Save Leftovers
Leftovers are a holiday favorite, so why not make it a holiday every day? Although many people save excess food from large meals, it is often forgotten in the fridge, then tossed when it goes bad. Storing leftovers in a clear glass container, rather than in an opaque container, helps ensure you don’t forget the food. If you happen to cook a lot and you regularly have leftovers, designate a day to use up any that have accumulated in the fridge. It’s a great way to avoid throwing away food.
4. Eat the Skin
A lot of us remove the skins of fruits, veggies and chicken. This is a shame because so many nutrients are found in the outer layer of produce and poultry skin. Apple skins for example contain large amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Chicken skin is packed with nutrients as well, including vitamin A, B vitamins, protein and healthy fats. The outer layers of potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, mangoes, kiwis and eggplants are also edible and nutritious.
5. Keep Your Serving Sizes in Check
Overeating is a problem for many people. Making sure your portion sizes stay within a healthy range doesn’t just help keep your weight down, it also reduces food waste. While you may not think twice about scraping the leftover food on your plate into the trash, remember that food waste has a major impact on the environment. Being more mindful of how hungry you actually are and practicing portion control are great ways to reduce food waste.
The bottom line
There is more than one way to reduce your food waste. Use the 5 little tips in this article to help you waste less food, and save precious time and money as well. By thinking more about the food your household wastes every day, you can help create positive change to conserve some of the earth’s most valuable resources. Even minimal changes to the way you shop, cook and consume food will help reduce your impact on the environment. It doesn’t have to be difficult. With a small amount of effort, you can cut your food waste dramatically, save money and time, and help take some pressure off Mother Nature.