How to Reduce Your Food Waste in 2019

If there’s anything that I’ve learned in this past year it’s that we produce so much unnecessary waste that contributes to a bigger deficit in our wallets and a bigger carbon footprint. We often think that ‘food waste’ can solely be reduced by “cleaning your plate”, but there is so much more waste produced from food! 

From the time food is grown to the time it’s disposed of after a meal, so much waste is produced. But there are so many easy steps we can follow to reduce our food-related waste in 2019.

1. Start Composting!

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Anyone who knows me knows that I highly endorse composting as you can benefit from it in so many ways. Composting food scraps reduces waste in our landfills (which are overflowing at the moment!) Instead of being transported to landfills (which use fossil fuels), you can add food scraps to a yard waste container, add it to your backyard compost pile, or bring to your community garden. This way, the food scraps have a chance to decompose and be re-used as nutritious soil!
 

I have a lot of friends who live in cities and find composting difficult. There are still plenty of things you can do to compost. There are nifty processors you can buy for your apartment that degrade the food scraps quickly into soil for your potted plants.

However, I like to take the “harder” but more minimalist route by keeping a sturdy container in my house just for food scraps. Sometimes, I even put food scraps in a plastic bag and keep them in the freezer until I know I can compost them.

You can find a home for your compost in a few ways to reduce food waste:

1. Find your buildings food & yard waste container or if you don’t have those in your state,
2. Bring it to a local community garden or central composting site.

​Believe it or not, they do exist! Just explore.


2. Use vegetable trimmings for stock

​We often cut off the ends of celery and onions and toss them leading to food waste. But we don’t realize that celery and onions trimmings are two of the three ingredients in mirepoix! Before tossing trimmings such vegetable ends of carrot tops ask yourself “What can I do with this?” Often times you can find some way to cook with it before creating food waste.

Have high quality food scraps that you don’t know what to do with immediately? I’ll just toss them in a bag and store them in the freezer until I find something to do with them. I even save my orange peels for drinks (such as mulled wine) and compost the remainder later, reducing food waste.

3. Use reusable containers instead of single-use

​Anyone else find themselves packaging almost all the food they own in plastic bags? The waste produced by plastic bags adds up pretty fast! Plus, the use for them is so limited! According to earthday.org, each American throws away 307 plastic bags per year, which adds up to over 100 billion plastic bags annually!

Purchasing glass storage containers are fantastic as they are great in the fridge for storage as well as reheating in a microwave! We use so many reusable containers from coffee cups to water bottles. Make the switch to long-term use containers as they’re easier to use, more cost effective and friendlier to the environment.

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4. Recycle

This may seem obvious, but some of us are a lot better at recycling than others. There is so much that we don’t recycle but can! Do you throw out plastic take out containers? How much time would it take to rinse it quickly and throw it in recycling? Minimal to none!

Recycling reduces landfill waste, conserves natural resources, and helps close the loop of using and losing natural energy sources.

5. Invest in a CSA

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​Food shares make such a difference for you, the environment, and the food system. Buying directly from farmers supports them, reducing travel time (and fossil fuel consumption) for food transportation, allows the food to be more fresh and ripe, and often involves less packaging. You won’t find a farmer with a CSA individually wrapping all your vegetables unnecessarily!

 Don’t forget that you can also purchase a CSA for meat and dairy! Find a CSA “near me’ with this awesome tool. ​https://www.localharvest.org/csa/


6. Buy animals whole

​Believe it or not, it is so helpful to purchase an entire chicken over a few thighs. Think about how many different packages a chopped up chicken is divided into! Purchasing just one can save a whole lot of packaging.

Plus, there is so much you can do with that chicken to reduce food waste! You can use the bones for a broth instead of buying broth from the store! You can even reduce your meat-waste buy purchasing a whole animal through a CSA. Knowing the animal is locally raised means there is less shipping and carbon emissions involved.

7. Find local food sources

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​Believe it or not, some stores are better than others. I’ve seen plenty of stores like Trader Joes and Whole Foods claim their food is “local”, only to find out that it’s “manufactured” on the opposite side of the country, yet grown in a different country. Don’t be fooled by large stores trying to tell you their produce is “local”. Investigate yourself! 

By legal standards, “local” is considered within a 400 mile radius. Buying foods from across the country, or even outside the country, contributes to carbon fuel emissions.

Typically the most locally sourced is best. Purchasing locally grown food reduces use of fossil fuels for transportation. Plus it tends to be fresher and higher in nutrients. Can’t tell if it’s local or not? How about buying straight from the source like a local, reliable farm!


8. Shop at bulk-bin stores

​This is simple, when we buy dry foods in bulk rather than individual containers, there is typically a smaller surface area of packaging! There are so many stores out there that sell their grains, nuts, and dry goods in package-free containers. All you have to do is bring a jar, weigh it, and use it to gather your dry goods!

You can find bulk-bin stores near you with ​https://www.litterless.com/wheretoshop/www.litterless.com/wheretoshop/

9. Buy more whole foods

​When we buy more foods in it’s whole form (such as a whole carrot as opposed to chopped carrots), we are significantly reducing food and packaging waste! How? Ever find a whole carrot in the same containers as chopped carrots? Exactly! Less processing and packaging was done to get that carrot to the store, meaning less waste! 
 
Plus, there is so much food waste you can prevent by using other parts of the plant, such as carrot tops! Carrot tops can be used to make a pesto–saying goodbye to food waste!
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10. Use reusable towels

​We’re probably all guilty of using paper towels, but why even bother? A cloth towel is more absorbent, lasts longer, and leads to much less waste than a paper towel. It’s estimated that 544,000 trees could be saved per year if every American household used one less roll of paper towels… that’s scary how much of a difference we can make with such small changes!

11. Ditch straws, totally

​If you’re a straw user, switch to resuable. But let’s get real, if you don’t use straws religiously to begin with, purchasing reusable straws is much less sustainable than just avoiding straws completely!
What habits have you adopted to help you be more sustainable? I’d love to know! The more we share the more we can help other people be more sustainable.
 

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Author: Stephanie

As a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, I'm on a mission to help you enjoy eating a balanced diet by cooking with #thatcertaintouch .

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