Food waste is a problem that’s growing worldwide. Today, more than a third of the global food production for human consumption is thrown away or sent to landfills. In wasting food, we’re not only wasting large amounts of finite natural resources but we’re also exposing the environment to harmful gases. Because food waste in landfills decomposes anaerobically (without oxygen), it emits methane gas, which in turn traps heat in the atmosphere.
By cutting down on food waste you’ll not only save money, you’ll also be helping the environment. Here’s how:
One way to prevent food waste is by purchasing “ugly” produce. Many fruits and vegetables that are aesthetically challenged, but still edible, go directly from farms to landfills. Many supermarkets now sell ugly produce at discounted prices, and restaurants are also using them. Check online to see where ugly produce is available for purchase near you.
When shopping, it is also important to be aware of how much produce you can consume before it spoils. Check out this site to see how long various fruits and veggies will last. Similarly, being conscious of portion control while cooking will not only help you practice healthy eating habits, but can also help reduce the amount of any excess food that may go uneaten.
If some food does spoil, you don’t necessarily have to throw it away. Most unprepared produce can be composted. You can also compost cooked produce scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells and, in some cases, even paper. There are an endless amount of things to compost. When you compost, microbes, fungi, worms, insects and snails, which are absent from landfills, break the produce down aerobically (with oxygen) and transform your waste into “black gold,” some of the richest fertilizer in the world. This fertilizer can then be used in your own organic fruit and vegetable garden!
3. Eating Leftovers
Some foods, like butter, oil, meat and bones, shouldn’t be composted because of their fatty content. However, another easy way to scale down food waste (and save money) is to eat your leftovers. This practice has dwindled in popularity over the last century as food prices have dropped. When food was more expensive, more effort went into repurposing leftovers into new meals. But now that food is less expensive and more accessible than ever, fewer people eat leftovers, which further contributes to food waste.
Small changes like these can help reduce food waste. Other ways include supporting nonprofits and groups that prevent edible food from going to landfills and companies who donate edible leftover food. Buying from local farmers also lessens the effects of food waste, plus it’s a great way to benefit your community.