Food waste statistics are staggering, but simple steps can help your family reduce the amount that ends up in the trash
Globally, food waste is becoming a serious economic and environmental issue. In the U.S, the Waste and Resources Action Program estimates that 60 million metric tons of food is wasted annually, worth more than $162 billion.
While the numbers are staggering, your family can do their part—as they say, “every little bit counts.” Reducing your kitchen scraps is also good for the environment; when organic waste breaks down in the landfill, it releases methane gas, the second most prevalent greenhouse gas caused by human activities.
Below are four easy ways to fight food waste at home.
Composting kitchen scraps is a great way to eliminate food waste, and also creates premium garden soil. The rule of thumb when it comes to proper composting is a simple ratio of one “green” (grass clippings, egg shells, produce rinds, etc.) to three carbon-rich “browns” (shredded paper, dry leaves, wood chips, coffee filters). Place your compost pile in a sunny spot, keep it slightly damp and mix regularly. Though the decomposition process is a long one, the end result is worth it: soil full of nutrients that prevents diseases and pests.
2. Meal Planning
Organization and planning, even listing, can help you achieve your rubbish reduction goals. Along side your grocery list, create a weekly meal plan; this will help you purchase only what you need and avoid impulse buys. Smartphone apps offer extra-easy meal planning assistance.
3. Can Fresh Produce
Canning, pickling and preserving fresh produce at home is easy, fun and reduces the chance of rotting and spoiling, though many are apprehensive to attempt the process in their own kitchen.
Water bath canning is the simplest canning method; after filling jars with produce like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers—and even fresh berries—add vinegar, cover with a lid and boil in open pot until a seal forms and creates a vacuum. Adding spices and herbs defines flavors and can pack a real punch.
4. The Dating Game
Numerous recent studies have found that expiration dates on packaged foods are overly-cautious, leading to large amounts of trashed food. According to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, confusing “sell by” and “enjoy by” dates cost the average American family more than $2,000 per annum. The take away from these reports: don’t obsess about dates you see on packaging (they are assigned at the manufacture’s behest and are not federally mandated), but use common sense—the sniff test is always a good way to gage.