For The Greater Goods (sm)

Earth Day – A Great Time to Think About Food Waste

Earth Day is just a week away – how will you be honoring the Earth?  On Earth Day, there are so many environmental issues to think about.  We’ve decided to focus on one that we can make an impact on in our very own kitchens.

earth day

The average American household wastes 14% of their food purchases, estimates researcher Timothy Jones of the University of Arizona. (Chachu207, Stock.Xchng)

We’ve all been there before. A big party or a holiday gathering ends, and then we must come to grips with excessive calories, trying to give away the extra food, and gathering up piles of plastic plates and cups. We may have had a great time feasting with our families and friends, but was all that excess really necessary?

Earth Day is a great time to start thinking about where it is you’re wasteful about food.

Not just on Earth Day but on every day

Begin to pay attention to how you might be overbuying food.  Do buy more produce than you can use before it goes bad?  Do you tend to have tons of leftovers after meals that then sit in the refrigerator and spoil?

All through the year, massive amounts of food are discarded in landfills in the United States. Not just from homes, but from grocery stores and restaurants as well. Much of this “waste” is still perfectly edible and, as the documentary Dive shows, still packaged. Why do we as individuals and a nation discard so much food? Is it just an automatic response? Are we too busy to find a happy home for the leftovers? Maybe many people do not think of food waste as a problem, because they assume it will biodegrade in the landfill (it won’t).

If you sometimes find yourself throwing food away, whether it’s from your fridge or at a buffet, you can take the first step by being aware of it. What usually goes to waste? When do you forget to eat food before it spoils? Does it help to put a date on your leftovers? Try to avoid buying too much at the grocery store. Defy the assumption that heaps of food is what makes a party, and ditch the throw-away party supplies while you’re at it, or at least use biodegradable cutlery.

Many supermarkets have a means of contributing to local shelters and food banks. Sierra Club Green Home recommends setting aside the excess food you would have bought, and donating it to these charities. You’ll create less waste, and someone who needs more food will get a bigger serving.

shopOrganic regularly donates to our local food bank.  We often receive products from our suppliers that are slightly damaged or broken open.  Instead of throwing them out, we tape them up and give them to the food bank.  Knowing that so much food going to food banks is junk food, it makes us feel good to donate healthier foods.

So how are you celebrating Earth Day; will you consider how much food your family wastes and take steps to reduce it?  From cooking in smaller portions (or freezing your leftovers), to making sure you’re only buying enough produce to use within a few days, you can make this Earth Day the first day you start to reduce waste.

Original blog  post by Mike Brandolino on Sierra Club Green Home: Food Waste: We Leave Tons to Rot

© 2012 SCGH, LLC. 

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