WITF’s "part two" video on climate change solutions covers an area most people might not consider: food waste. As stated in the video, “38% of food in the United States goes unsold or uneaten." For a family of four, 1,000 pounds of food is thrown away every year, which is the equivalent of $2,500. This discarded food ends up in the landfill, where it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Climate expert Jackie Snuggit, Director of Capital, Innovation, and Engagement at ReFED, shared a few steps she recommends to those looking to lower their food waste impact.
- Meal Planning
Planning your meals for the week helps to regulate the intake of groceries, consequently preventing you from buying more than you need and reducing your carbon footprint. As WITF suggests, this could mean using the same ingredients in multiple meals throughout your week. If you want to learn more about the eco-friendly effects meal planning has, check out more information here!
- Food Storage
Did you know that cucumbers, basil, and garlic all last longer if you store them at room temperature? There are so many food storage tricks that allow our groceries to spoil less, and many aren’t commonly known. Things like garlic, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes all last longer if you store them in a cupboard rather than out in the open, while avocados actually ripen faster when around other fruits than by itself.
This section is simple - items last months longer when kept in the freezer! Just make sure to use them before they get freezer-burnt and it’ll help the environment more than harm it.
- Expiration Dates
Snuggit says it’s better to use your own senses to determine when to toss food rather than using the printed expiration date! She notes that best-by dates are rarely “regulated and sometimes arbitrary,” and according to the FDA, the best-by labels “relate to the quality of the product, but … predicting when a food will no longer be of adequate quality for consumption is not an exact science.” So use your senses when confronting “out of date” foods, but know it is probably okay to eat.
- Leftover Night!
This is the one night in the week you can gather up all the perishable food left in the fridge and pantry and use it up! Any leftovers from meals eaten earlier in the week can be put out for the family, or if you’re living alone, you can prepare a stir-fry/one-pot-meal with the leftover veggies you may have.
Obviously, sometimes we will have food waste, and often even when we use everything in our kitchen there are still scraps that we can’t or don’t eat. These bits of food could be anything from vegetable peelings to eggshells. Instead of throwing them out, consider composting. If you don't compost, maybe find a nearby friend who does through ShareWaste, an app that lets you connect with fellow sustainably-minded people in your area!
If you're interested in becoming more "food" zero-waste, try supporting local green businesses for any items you might need! Refillism has compost bins with charcoal filters which are fantastic for keeping your compost indoors without the smells that can accompany it. We also have meal planning prep pads that are good for anyone wanting to plan out the meals they make through the week.
What can I do about climate change? Part 2: What we (don’t) eat. WITF News. https://www.instagram.com/p/CwFITD0tNWo/
M, Hilary. The Best Way to Store Fruits and Veggies. Eating Well. https://www.eatingwell.com/article/286048/the-best-way-to-store-fruits-and-veggies/
C, Andrea. Which Fruits and Vegetables Should I Keep in My Pantry? SPE Certified. http://specertified.com/blog/view/q-which-fruits-and-vegetables-should-i-keep-in-my-pantryConfused by Date Labels on Packaged Foods? U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-upd