Fight Food Waste at Home
A 2018 study by the USDA found that the average American wastes about one pound of food per day. Altogether that is enough to feed 2 billion extra people per year!
Food waste was already a problem in the US, even before we found ourselves under stay at home orders. As we begin to come to terms with limited grocery shopping, community shut downs, and social distancing it becomes increasingly important that we also learn how to reduce our food waste. Buying in bulk is only beneficial if you are able to use the food before it spoils!
4 Steps for Fighting Food Waste at Home
- Store Food Correctly
When you have extra food in the house it is important that you store it correctly. This helps you to avoid letting food spoil, or encourage pests. Make sure you keep track of use-by dates and regularly “shop your pantry” to make sure that you use everything you have purchased.
FDA article on food storage and safety
- Use Fresh Foods First
Fresh foods will spoil much faster than frozen or shelf stable. Plan your meals around using fresh foods before they spoil!
- Make Stock from Leftover Vegetable Scraps
Vegetable scraps don’t have to go in the trash, you can use them to make vegetable stock. Vegetable stock is great for making soups and sauces, or you can use it to add extra flavor when boiling rice.
The Kitchn - tips for saving vegetable scraps for stock
Foods or scraps that don’t make it into your vegetable stock can be composted! Composting your food scraps means that you will not be sending them to a landfill (where they’ll sit and produce methane, a greenhouse gas that is at least 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide!).
Composting your food waste converts waste that would have otherwise gone to landfill into a product that benefits the soil.
Many composters around the country are still doing regular collection - you can sign up for a local service! If your regular composter is no longer collecting, you can store food scraps in your freezer until collection resumes.
While many other activities are currently off limits due to social distancing rules, it might be a good time to start composting at home.
Elevate Packaging Guide to Home Composting
Fight Food Waste, Provide Aid, and Reduce Hunger
If you want to help fight food waste and reduce hunger in your community, during the pandemic and beyond, there are other ways you can help!
Donate to, or volunteer at a food bank
Food banks and meal centers are crucial for helping those at-risk, especially in this time of greater need. If you do not have food to donate you could consider a cash donation. If you are healthy and able, you could also consider volunteering.
Take part in a community support group
Just because we are social distancing doesn’t mean that you can’t share food with your neighbors. If you have food to spare that you will not eat, your neighbors may appreciate the support. Be sure to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines and do “contactless drop-off” so as to not put your community’s health at risk.
Local community support groups have been popping up all over social media! They offer mutual aid to those in need of food, grocery shopping, and supplies. Keep an eye out for one in your area, or you could consider starting your own.
Support your local restaurants
Independently owned restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops are struggling due to shut downs and social distancing regulations. Check to see if any in your area are offering take-out or contactless delivery!
Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food
Reducing food waste is an effort that helps not only your own household, but also your wider community and the environment.
By reducing the amount of food wasted at home you can help lower methane emissions from landfills. You can help conserve the energy and resources involved in growing, transporting, and selling food.
We all can do our part to reduce food waste. You will benefit from decreased grocery spending, while your community and the earth will benefit from lower emissions from food production, and landfills. Donated food and mutual aid supports those in need, and composted food scraps help return nutrients to our soil!