It’s a sobering statistic: 31 percent of the food that’s produced for human consumption is lost or wasted every year. That’s 33 billion pounds of food worth about $161.6 billion. While not all of the waste comes from individual consumers, a considerable amount does get discarded at the household level. Food waste isn’t good for the environment and it’s not good for your budget, either. The average American household loses $370 per person each year due to food waste.
If you’re among the many Americans throwing away food, it’s time to change your buying, cooking, and eating strategies in order to do better for the Earth and for your wallet. Here are a few ideas and resources to get you started:
We know that you’re busy, and it’s often easier to drop by the grocery store and shop from the running list you keep in your head, but this strategy isn’t conducive to reducing food waste. When you shop without a list, you’re more likely to buy items you don’t actually need and don’t have a plan for using. Buy what you need, when you need it, and make sure your fruits and vegetables are at the appropriate level of maturation. Not sure how to judge an avocado’s readiness, for instance? Here’s a quick guide to help you out.
When you buy fruits, vegetables, meats, and other food products, start thinking about how you can use the entire product, even after its prime. Stale bread can become bread crumbs. The cut ends of scallions, celery, and other leafy greens can be stored in the freezer and turned into stock, as can bones from beef, chicken, and pork, as well as the shells of shrimp. And when it comes to avocados, there’s really no excuse for throwing out the seed and the skin. Use the seed to make an indulgent foot scrub. Use a past prime avocado in a DIY face mask. Or get the kids involved in some fun arts and crafts with our other avo-recycling ideas.
Away from the watchful eyes of parents nagging them to clean their plates, kids in school lunchrooms throw away massive amounts of food every day. Encourage your children to find out whether their school recycles food scraps and ask them to use the recycle bin if one is available. If you’re a member of the parent-teacher association at your school, take up food waste as a project. Tips for mitigating food waste at the school level can be found here.