Let’s face it: Food waste is a massive problem around the world. But just how much food gets tossed, and what can we do about it? Today, we’ll explore food waste in America and discuss some of the small steps that each of us can take to reduce food waste at home.
It’s estimated that 80 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States each year. It’s also believed that half of all seafood is thrown out in America, in addition to 48 percent of all fruits and vegetables. With that much food waste, it’s no surprise that food is the No. 1 thing in America’s landfills.
Actions throughout the entire food supply chain lead to food waste—from retailers and service providers to consumers themselves. The primary ways that food gets wasted are:
Food waste is an issue that each of us can do our part to improve. Here are eight ways you can help:
One way you can reduce food waste is by purposely picking out those imperfect-looking yet still delicious and nutritious fruits and veggies at the grocery store.
There are also several services that offer inexpensive “ugly” produce, including:
Another way to purchase imperfect-looking produce is to participate in a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program—which is also a nice way to support local agriculture. CSA boxes are full of locally grown whole foods that often will challenge traditional ideas of what produce “should” look like.
It may be beneficial for you to rethink the way that you shop by popping into the grocery store more often. Planning for only a few days at a time could help you home in on exactly what you need for specific meals.
Grocery delivery services make shopping more frequently an easier task for busy customers. Here are seven options to choose from:
Speaking of delivery services, another way to reduce food waste in your household is to use a meal planning service that sends you the precise amount of ingredients that you need to make your meals. From vegan smoothies to steak dinners, there’s something out there for everyone. Some popular brands include:
Related: Not all of the dates you see on food packages are expiration dates. Learn more in our Food Dating Guide →
Another way you can reduce food waste is by growing your own fruits, veggies, and herbs. Gardening not only gives us a deeper connection to our food, but it also gives us the ability to use as needed. For instance, gardeners can pick off a small amount of fresh herbs from a basil plant for a soup recipe, instead of buying a whole package of basil that may be used only once.
Looking to get started with your own garden? Check out our tips for growing your own fresh produce.
Ensure that you’re storing your food properly to keep it fresh longer. One way to be in the know on best practices is to consult with a food storage app, such as the USDA FoodKeeper app, for recommendations on storing your food items.
Here are a few handy storage tips to keep in mind:
It’s nice to keep your kitchen stocked, but an overly packed fridge may be detrimental to your food waste reduction efforts. Make an effort to keep your fridge organized so that you can see all of your food, and use the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method. There are a number of tools out there, such as the NoWaste app, that help users easily track, organize, and manage the food in their homes.
Research shows that confusing labels contribute to our food waste problem. Get a better grasp on label terminology to ensure that you aren’t throwing perfectly good food into the trash. Check out a few of our food dating resources for more information:
Shop smart by making a list of all the food items that you need ahead of time. Planning your meals out and knowing what you need helps reduce mindless spending and impulse purchases.
Furthermore, make a conscious effort to resist buying items in bulk that you’re not confident will be used in a timely manner.
If we all were to get involved and make an effort to throw out less food in our own households, there would be a dramatic reduction in the amount of food wasted across America. Decreasing food waste in your household will not only reduce your carbon footprint and be beneficial to the environment, but it will also save you money.