Tips for Reducing Food Waste
By: Elizabeth Beling, Senior in Emory College, Sociology major and Sustainability minor
In the United States, 80 billion pounds of food are thrown away each year. That’s 219 pounds of food waste per person. Why is this a problem? One core issue is that this food could be going to address food insecurity. Emory is working to divert 95% of food waste to compost or recycling by 2025, but one way that individuals can help in this effort is by committing to generate less food waste.
This year, I’ve been working on decreasing my amount of food waste and being more mindful of the amount of packaging waste I produce as well. Here are some tips that have been helpful for me in reducing waste:
1. If you have leftover produce that you know you won’t be able to eat before it goes bad, try freezing it to use later in soups. Here’s an example of a great broth recipe using leftover vegetable trimmings: https://www.garlicandzest.com/scraps-vegetable-broth/
2. Plan out the meals you want to have for the week instead of impulse buying. I usually just keep a running list on my phone that includes staples that I’ve run out of and the ingredients that I need to cook with this week. As a bonus, I also find that this usually saves me time and money at the grocery store!
3. Move older products to the front of your fridge or pantry so that you’re more likely to use them before they go bad. It can be easy to forget about things when you don’t see them, especially when something gets lost in a produce drawer or behind a bunch of larger things. So, I make sure to put food that I need to use in the next few days right where I first look when I open the fridge to remind myself about it.
4. Share food that you aren’t going to finish with your friends! Prior to COVID, it used to be really fun to have group potluck meals. It’s a little more difficult now, but I have done a few socially distanced picnics that have been really nice. Also, as the weather gets colder, dropping off food at a friend’s house can be a great gesture to show that you’re thinking about them.
5. Get involved with Emory Food Chain or the Oxford Food Recovery Network! I volunteered weekly during my Junior year at the DCT weighing out food waste from the dining hall that is then donated. This is a great way to help out on a bigger scale than just yourself and it can be a really fun way to meet others interested in sustainability.
6. Get creative about finding out ways to preserve your food! Making jams is a good way to use up extra fruit and you can make your own pickles very easily. If you can properly, these last for months. I’ve included a picture of some jam I made this summer that has lasted me well into the fall.
Thanks for reading! Please comment below with any ideas that you have for reducing food waste.
“Food Waste in America in 2020: Statistics & Facts: RTS.” Recycle Track Systems, www.rts.com/resources/guides/food-waste-america/.