Have you ever opened your fridge to find the strawberries you bought two weeks ago molding in the back? Sadly, most Americans can relate: 40 percent of food in America goes to waste. There’s a number of reasons for this, like improper storage or meal planning, but I won’t talk about that too much today. My main point of discussion today is…why should we care? Sure, food waste isn’t a nice or pleasant thing, but why is it so important? Isn’t the main goal to reduce single use disposable waste? Well, yes and no. As a zero waster, you start out focusing on reducing your consumption of disposables, but you quickly realize there’s so much more to zero waste than just refusing plastic straws. It’s important to look at waste from all angles, if we really want to call ourselves zero wasters. That’s why today’s post focuses on three reasons to reduce food waste: I want to show you why reducing food waste is so important and broaden your horizons a bit.
When I first discovered how big a problem food waste truly was, I was shocked. It inspired me to write my ebook, How to Reduce Food Waste. The things I learned while writing that ebook both shocked and motivated me. If you want to truly learn what food waste is, and how we can exterminate it forever, I suggest you go check out my ebook. But more on that later. Right now, lets focus on three reasons to reduce food waste in the first place.
3 Reasons to Reduce Food Waste
Lets never take food for granted. We all need it to survive. It’s a basic human necessity. Here are three reasons to reduce food waste in your every day life.
1. Helps the environment
When food goes in the trash, it goes to a landfill. This isn’t a good thing, considering food cannot properly decompose in a landfill. That’s because landfills are lined with geo-textiles and clay, which create a barrier between the waste and the earth around it.
Landfill managers then fill it with waste, compact it, and cover it with more earth each day. They then ‘cap’ the pile with another layer of geo-textiles and clay.
These are often referred to as ‘dry tombs’ because any fluid run-off is collected and treated, which lowers moisture levels. Unfortunately, this leads to organic matter producing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
If you know anything about methane gas, you know it’s not exactly environmentally friendly. In fact, methane is 30 percent more powerful than carbon dioxide. That’s because when it leaks into the air, it absorbs the sun’s heat more effectively than carbon dioxide does.
While methane gas does not stay in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide does, it is initially far more devastating to the climate due to its potency.
In many ways, methane gas is worse for the climate than carbon dioxide, though reducing both is the only real way to combat climate change.
The worst part is, landfills are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector. Not cool…
So, with all of this information in mind, it’s safe to say when you reduce food waste, you also reduce methane emissions from landfills.
I’m happy to say my family hardly throws any food into the trash anymore. That’s mainly got to do with us composting in an apartment, a huge part of reducing food waste.
In my ebook, How to Reduce Food Waste, I show you exactly how to compost in an apartment or outdoors. I even explain how to create your own compost bin from scratch.
Actionable tip: Start composting in your home (even if you live in a small space), to help reduce the amount of food you send to landfill.
2. Saves you money
One of the more enticing benefits to reducing food waste is definitely the money aspect.
When you reduce food waste, you’re bound to save money.
Did you know the average American family of four loses $1500 a year due to food waste? That money could be put towards so many things, like your savings account or a nice weekend getaway.
Even if you live on your own, you can still save hundreds of dollars every year by reducing food waste. One person can save $375 a year, $31 monthly and $1 a day by eliminating food waste. What would you do with that extra cash?
Now, you might be wondering how all this money is being wasted. That’s a fair question. The reason is simple: When you let food go bad or unused, you’re also wasting the money you spent to purchase it.
For example: Lets say I recently bought two heads of organic lettuce for $4 each. Over the course of the next two weeks, I forget about them in my fridge and they start to rot. Well, that’s $8 spent down the drain then. See how it can add up?
There’s also the fact we waste parts of food that are otherwise edible. For example, strawberry tops, beet and carrot tops and potato skins are all edible, but usually discarded immediately. This too, is wasted food…and it’s hurting our pockets.
In my ebook, How to Reduce Food Waste, I show you exactly how to create a meal plan that saves money, time and food. I also teach you how to use up every part of a food item, so nothing goes to waste.
Actionable tip: The next time you purchase a perishable food item, make sure to use it up right away or store it somewhere you can see it. Also, be sure to use up the odds and ends of your food items (assuming they’re edible, of course).
3. Fights world hunger
Did you know we have more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet? Yet 821 million people globally still go hungry and are undernourished. Why?
Well, we can thank food waste for that as well. Or, more specifically, food waste and food loss.
Yes, there’s a difference.
Food loss is food that never reaches its final production stage (like harvested bananas that fall off a truck). Food waste is food that does reach final production stage but is still wasted (like consumers tossing their leftovers into the trash).
When we dispose of perfectly edible food, it truly is a waste in more ways than one. Remember when your mother scolded you for not eating your veggies because there were children in Africa who would love to have them? She’s not wrong.
Often times, we buy or grow too much food that we don’t know what to do with. I know I certainly have. In the past, my family has bought way too many cans of food that just never get used. They sit on our shelves for ages when they could be feeding people.
Also, when you have a flourishing garden, it can be hard to keep up with how much you grow. My boyfriend’s mother is constantly giving food away to loved ones come summer. Why? Because you tend to grow more food than you can eat. After all, 80 percent of gardeners grow more food than they can use.
This is a real problem, considering there are literally people starving to get this food. So many people live in areas called food deserts, where they don’t have access to fresh, wholesome produce.
Instead, people in food deserts are forced to eat prepackaged foods loaded with sodium and sugar. These foods tend to have very little nutritional value, so they’re literally starving themselves even though they get the sensation of being full.
We can end world hunger simply by reducing our food waste, and donating the food we can’t eat ourselves.
For example: Lets say you have a garden full of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and lettuce. Those are great ingredients to make a nutritional meal from! Instead of letting the excess produce rot on the vine, collect it and give some away to your neighbors, or setup a food is free table outside your home.
In my ebook, How to Reduce Food Waste, I explain exactly what to donate to a food bank, how to organize your very own food drive, and how to help the hungry in your local community. I give you all the resources you’ll ever need for donating food to those who need it.
Actionable tip: Donate any food you cannot eat in your home to a local food bank. If you’re a gardener with surplus produce, consider finding a food pantry to donate your excess food to using Ample Harvest.
Are you ready to reduce food waste?
Are you ready to become a food waste warrior yet? I hope seeing all these benefits motivates you like it motivates me.