A lot of us don’t realize the amount of food we waste every day. Research by NRDC across three cities in the States reported that the average person throws away 3.5 pounds of food every week. What is worse is that we could have eaten two-thirds of the food. The issue of food waste seems so inherently entwined without everyday lives, but we can avert the problem if each of us puts a little effort into it.
There are ways that institutions like schools, offices, and restaurants can help mitigate food waste. However, Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
As individuals, we can offset the imbalance we have caused—food waste on the one hand and malnourished communities on the other. It’s also important to acknowledge that no one person is too insignificant to make an impactful change because every single person matters. Of course, like with other sustainability efforts, reducing food waste starts at home too.
Perhaps some of you are thinking: Why should I be doing anything to reduce food waste?
It is a valid question, especially if one is fortunate enough to live comfortably and never have to worry about not having enough nutritional food on their plate. However, reducing food waste can reduce your carbon footprint and global methane emission. It helps conserve energy, minimize pollution, and even save you money in the long run!
If we had to say, human conscience alone should be enough to convince anyone to stop wasting food (especially perfectly edible ones). So, how can you reduce food waste at home?
Planning and shopping for food go hand-in-hand. Just by making a list of what you’re planning to eat in the week, you won’t be buying more than what you know you will use. It means saving money and keeping all your ingredients fresh.
Take note of the types of food and meals that you and your family like. Make a grocery list depending on how much you plan to eat. Are you going to a restaurant this weekend? How often will you order take-outs, and how much will you cook? It helps to plan your weekly meals before shopping. Meal prepping tools like Save the Food Meal Prep Mate might be useful!
One of the biggest reasons that people throw away food is because they are spoiled. To prolong shelf life and prevent foods from rotting before you get a chance to use them, you should know how to store each type of food. For example, perishable foods should go in the fridge or freezer, while celery should be standing upright in a cup of water. You shouldn’t place bananas near other fruits, or they will ripen quickly.
Also, did you know that expiration dates are pretty much a myth? The dates usually only indicate when the product is at peak flavor and quality. It has nothing to do with when the foods become spoiled and unsafe to eat. Scientists who spend months in Antarctica even eat food years past its expiry date.
Use Your Freezer
On the note of storing foods, it’s about time that you become best friends with your freezer. They can be a lifesaver when it comes to keeping your food fresh for as long as possible. Everyone knows you can freeze meat, dairy, and some produce, but did you know you can freeze lightly beaten eggs and dark leafy greens? We like to think putting food in a freezer is like pressing pause.
Using the freezer is not as easy as throwing things into it. Well, in most cases, it is. But it helps to chop up greens and store individual foods in a plastic bag or container. You can use them in smoothies and curries later on, but probably not in a salad.
Our final tip is to learn how to compost your scraps. You can plan all you want and use up every single bit of each ingredient, but there will always be leftover scraps. We are talking about browned banana peels, super-tough stems, and other inedible parts. It’s good enough for most to toss them in the bin, but why not go a step further and compost them?
Composting is not hard, and setting up your first compost bin may take no longer than a few minutes. Even if you don’t have a backyard, it can still benefit your indoor herb garden or potted plants. There are even neighborhood compost bins you may want to look for.
There are tons of green living changes one can make when ensuring an eco-friendly lifestyle. Reducing food waste is one of them. It is also an important issue that many people often overlook. So if you’re reading this, then you have already taken the first step most people will never take.
If you want to have a sustainable diet and have done all you can to minimize your food waste, it may be time to consider veganism.