5 Best ways to reduce food waste
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Most people don't realize how much food they throw away every day — from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce. About 94 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities. In 2015, we disposed 37.6 million tons of food waste. By managing food sustainably and reducing waste, we can help businesses and consumers save money, provide a bridge in our communities for those who do not have enough to eat, and conserve resources for future generations.
Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food
· Saves money from buying less food.
· Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
· Conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then landfilling it).
· Supports your community by providing donated untouched food that would have otherwise gone to waste to those who might not have a steady food supply.
Planning, prepping, and storing food can help your household waste less food. By simply making a list with weekly meals in mind, you can save money and time and eat healthier food. If you buy no more than what you expect to use, you will be more likely to keep it fresh and use it all.
· Keep a running list of meals and their ingredients that your household already enjoys. That way, you can easily choose, shop for and prepare meals.
· Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home. Will you eat out this week? How often?
· Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and buy only the things needed for those meals.
· Include quantities on your shopping list noting how many meals you’ll make with each item to avoid overbuying. For example: salad greens - enough for two lunches.
· Look in your refrigerator and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have, make a list each week of what needs to be used up and plan upcoming meals around it.
· Buy only what you need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you can use the food before it spoils.
· It’s easy to overbuy or forget about fresh fruits and vegetables. Store fruits and vegetables for maximum freshness; they’ll taste better and last longer, helping you to eat more of them.
· Find out how to store fruits and vegetables so they stay fresh longer inside or outside your refrigerator.
· Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables - especially abundant seasonal produce.
· Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other nearby produce spoil faster. Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves, and store fruits and vegetables in different bins.
· Wait to wash berries until you want to eat them to prevent mold.
· If you like to eat fruit at room temperature, but it should be stored in the refrigerator for maximum freshness, take what you’ll eat for the day out of the refrigerator in the morning.
· Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping. It will be easier to whip up meals or snacks later in the week, saving time, effort, and money.
· When you get home from the store, take the time to wash, dry, chop, dice, slice, and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking. Be sure your containers are reusable and not one-time use disposable bags or containers.
· Befriend your freezer and visit it often. For example,
· Freeze food such as bread, sliced fruit, or meat that you know you won’t be able to eat in time.
· Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.
· Prepare and cook perishable items, then freeze them for use throughout the month.
· For example, bake and freeze chicken breasts or fry and freeze taco meat.
If you can't reduce wasted food, divert It from landfills. Nutritious, safe, and untouched food can be donated to food banks to help those in need. Perhaps surprising to some, our EPA is a good source for connecting to the right organizations for feeding those in need.
By redirecting unspoiled food from a landfill to our neighbors in need, individuals can support their local communities and reduce environmental impact. Non-perishable and unspoiled perishable food can be donated. Donated food can also include leftovers from events and surplus food inventory.
Where to Donate
Food pantries, food banks and food rescue programs are available across the country to collect food and redistribute it to those in need. Food banks are community-based, professional organizations that collect food from a variety of sources and save the food in warehouses.
The food bank then distributes the food to hungry families and individuals through a variety of emergency food assistance agencies, such as soup kitchens, youth or senior centers, shelters and pantries. Most food banks tend to collect more non-perishable foods such as canned goods because they can be stored for a longer time.
Food rescue programs take excess perishable and prepared food and distribute it to agencies and charities that serve hungry people such as soup kitchens, youth or senior centers, shelters and pantries. Many of these agencies visit the food bank each week to select fresh produce and packaged products for their meal programs or food pantries.
Many also take direct donations from stores, restaurants, cafeterias, and individuals with surplus food to share. Remember to contact your local food pantry, food bank or food rescue operation to find out what items they accept. Also, food banks will often pick up donations free of charge.
What is composting? Is it truly beneficial for the environment? How do I do it? Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. It enriches soil, helping retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests. Compost also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, and it encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material.
Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. It enriches soil, helping retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests. Compost also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, and it encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material.
All composting requires three basic ingredients:
· Browns - This includes materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
· Greens - This includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.
· Water - Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is important for compost development.
Your compost pile should have an equal amount of browns to greens. You should also alternate layers of organic materials of different-sized particles. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter.
Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
Add brown and green materials as they are collected, making sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded. Moisten dry materials as they are added. Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material.
Learn more about composting and other money saving, green living tips in our free eBook “Live Green & Save Money".
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