To say that food waste is a bit of a problem the world is facing today would be a bit of an understatement. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the global volume of food wastage is estimated to be 1.6 billion tonnes with a carbon footprint estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes.
As if the negative impact on the environment that all this food waste causes isn’t depressing enough, consider how much money is being wasted as well. When we throw unused food out, we’re literally throwing our money out with it too.
Ready to take this food waste thing more seriously? Good! Here are some tips to get you started.
Always make a list. If you show up at the grocery store or farmers’ market not knowing what you already have at home, you could end up with double the amount of the same type of food, and if you can’t eat it before it goes bad, you’ll definitely be wasting some of it. Always plan ahead by taking stock of what’s in your kitchen and build a shopping list accordingly.
Buy less of what you’re not using in full. It’s time to get really honest with yourself and make a note of what you’re tossing out regularly. Look for trends in how you’re tossing meat, vegetables, fruit or dairy products and try cutting what you regularly purchase by at least half and see how that goes. Chances are you’ll end up wasting a lot less.
Store produce properly. The way you store your fruits and veggies properly can make a big difference in how long they last. For example, wrapping the stems of your bananas with some plastic wrap and securing it with a rubber band will prevent them from going brown so quickly. And if you love avocados, consider waiting for them to ripen (which you can check by pulling off the little nub to see if the flesh is green) and then you’ll be able to store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five extra days.
Know your use-by dates. Check the dates on every food product before you buy it to make sure you feel confident about using it all up before it’s no good. You may even want to consider hanging a list of foods on your refrigerator to remind yourself of what needs to be eaten before a certain date.
Keep your refrigerator organized. Speaking of use-by dates, keeping your refrigerator and pantry organized can prevent products that are about to expire from being shoved in the back and forgotten. Remember to store raw meat on the bottom shelf so it doesn’t drip onto other food, and plan to clean your refrigerator every 1 to 2 weeks.
Use your freezer. You can freeze leftovers and raw meat before the use-by date. Just make sure to wrap these items properly to prevent freezer burn and pull them out to defrost and eat within a reasonable amount of time.
Repurpose food scraps. There are all sorts of different ways to reuse food scraps. Some people make bread crumbs out of bread crusts, use eggshells in their gardens, and even shine their shoes with banana peels.
Compost. Last but not least–compost, compost, compost! The FAO says that home composting has the potential to cut down as much as 150 kilos of food waste per household every year.
To eliminate food waste, all it really takes is a commitment to being a lot more conscious of your shopping habits and meal prepping. Before long, food waste will be a thing of the past in your household.