Americans are some of the most prevalent food wasters in the world! About one-third of all food produced globally is wasted, with the U.S. contributing an embarrassing 40 percent of that! This food waste isn’t just a wasted opportunity; it’s actually bad for the planet. Rotting food in landfills produces and emits methane, a gas that has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide! So, it suffices to say rotting food is a major environmental concern.
We can start to correct this problem by taking small, everyday steps within our homes to reduce needless waste. Here are 10 simple ways you can reduce food waste in your home:
1. Herbs are a chronically wasted produce. You have to buy them in bunches bigger than you can use, and when you grow them, it’s a challenge to use up everything your plants produce.
Puree herbs and freeze them in ice trays. Then store them in freezer bags. Next time you need to spice something up, you’re set. Pair complimentary herbs like basil and oregano for your pasta dishes or cilantro and mint for a great party punch.
Another way to prevent herb waste is to give away half of what you buy. Bought a big bunch of parsley? You know you’re never going to use it before it goes bad! Give away half to a friend or neighbor right away.
2. Dry Goods Storage is one way food falls through the cracks. Having airtight food storage containers keeps food from going stale and keeps pests out of pastas, legumes and dry baking goods. Transferring them to airtight glass containers can help reduce their waste. (Just remember to label with an expiration date.)
3. Soup Night! Have a bunch of veggies lying around? Make a big pot of soup. All you need is broth, those herbs you froze (see tip #1) and some veggies. You can freeze the soup for a cold, lazy Sunday.
4. Meal Planning is an essential step in reducing food waste. Planning your meals for the week will help you purchase only the produce, grains and meat you’re actually going to use! Here’s a free weekly menu planner to help you get started.
5. Composting turns food waste into rich, fertile soil for your garden beds. You can put your vegetable scraps and yard waste to good use! Check out last month’s Blue Skies Recycling blog for a simple guide to composting in your own backyard.
6. Keeping an Inventory of food is easier than you think. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll appreciate never finding last Thanksgiving’s turkey in the back of the freezer again. Keeping a dry-erase list on your freezer is an easy way to know what’s still lurking in the back.
7. Organizing the Fridge often something we don’t put a lot of effort into. We toss it in the fridge and assume we’re good to go. Food storage isn’t that simple, though. Simple practices such as storing fruit and vegetables together are costing you money in food waste. Here’s a guide to storing food in the fridge to maximize its lifespan.
For information on how to reduce, reuse and recycle, visit the Blue Skies Recycling blog.