We have a serious problem. 40% of the food in the United States is wasted, and 30% of food worldwide is wasted. What a ridiculous waste of energy, money and water. Read more here.
At the same time over 800 million people don’t have enough to eat, and more land is being cleared everyday for more agriculture. Rotting food waste in landfills creates methane gas that causes pollution. Each one of us needs to reduce our food waste. I have said many times this is one of the hardest things for me to deal with in trying to help our climate crisis. Reducing food waste takes constant vigilance. This week I came home from the farmers market with rotten apples and cucumbers. Being a more thoughtful shopper and buying just what I needed could have helped.
These are important facts we should be aware of, from the IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Food production causes 30 % of greenhouse emissions, 80% of global deforestation, and uses 70% of the world’s fresh water!
My advice for managing food waste and working for zero waste in my home:
1. First, be mindful of your perishables, use your freezer, buy in bulk to get just what you need, and become aware that gluttony is a form of food waste
2. I save celery tops, onions and raw produce waste to put in a stir fry or soup. One of my favorite things about cooking is how I can use leftovers creatively. I love making wraps, rice or quinoa bowls with food leftovers.
3. Expiration dates are not something I obsess over. Most of the time food is good long past the date.
From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills. (Source: EPA)
We can all do something about this tremendous influx of trash and I will be posting ideas for 31 days on how to reduce trash and waste:
Day 31, Set new goals to help the environment for the new year. Suggestions: Be more vigilant about recycling, start a compost bin, recycle all shampoo and cosmetic plastic, use less chemicals, and make a commitment to get outside and appreciate our beautiful earth.
Day 30, Recycle, recycle, recycle Instead of throwing everything in the landfill trash recycle all plastic including plastic wrap and bags. Many communities recycle wrapping paper without glitter. Compost your food waste, and re-gift(give to someone who would enjoy) any gift you will not use. Take your electronics to Best Buy for recycling.
Day 29, Never purchase or use Styrofoam. Styrofoam breaks down in tiny pieces and much of it ends up in our waterways lasting for hundreds of years. Complain to businesses that still use Styrofoam food take-out container or cups, and bring your own container.
Day 28, More on reusable wrappings. This is a great list from earth911.com http://www.earth911.com/living-well-being/reusable-gift-wrap-ideas/?mc_cid=41d9271137&mc_eid=9f2a2b2b71
Day 27,Use gift wrapping that can be reused or recycled.
Day 26, Reduce the amount of paper towels you use. Use real towels and always
purchase paper towels from recycled materials.
Day 25, last minute, easy gift ideas from the Minnesota Pollution Control:
Lessons. A lot of people would like to try new things, but won’t spend the money on themselves. A gift certificate might be just the item for someone who would like to begin a new hobby or polish the skills they have already learned. Perhaps you have can even teach them one of your special talents, like how to cook a family recipe.
Time and energy. Friends or relatives may value help with snow shoveling, vacuuming, or organizing as a gift. Try our downloadable gift certificates as a way to present your gift.
Day 18, Reduce stress by not using your car one or more days this week. Choose to walk, car pool or use public transport to get to work, school or meetings.
Day 17, Strive for quality. Purchase items you know will last and you will reuse, reuse and reuse. Don’t purchase cheap items that will soon end up in the landfill. Sorry, NO to #uglysweaters
Day 16, Get in the habit of using reusable table napkins. Make your own from remnant pieces if cloth, or purchase some from reuse stores. Use your imagination, wash cloths or bandanas also make good napkins. They don’t need to match.
Day 15, Commit to a no waste holiday season. Join one million women
Day 14, Refill your glass bottles. My local grocery store has an option to refill bottles
Day 13, Precycle, precycle precycle. Many of my ideas to reduce waste are about precycling. Today’s “less waste” idea is to avoid packaged items that will generate lots of landfill waste. Before you purchase items become aware of the amount of waste it will generate. Purchase items that have the smallest amount of packaging, and packaging that can be recycled.
Day 11, Say “NO” to straws. Billions of plastic straws are in landfills and will never decompose.
How can we stop getting straws? Simply inform your waiter or waitress that you don’t need one, and make sure to specify this when ordering at a drive-thru. Can’t fathom giving up the convenience of straws? Purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass drinking straw. Restaurants are less likely to bring you a plastic one if they see that you’ve brought your own straw. From: http://www.mnn.com
Day 10, Bring a reusable water bottle to work, school, and for all your adventures.
Day 9, Always bring your reusable shopping bags, and avoid plastic bags. Choose
paper if you forget your own bags.
Day 8, Cyber Monday. Purchase green products and items made in the U.S.A. Also, support businesses that provide healthy working conditions and pay a living-wage.
Day 7, Use your leftovers. Make your turkey leftovers into wraps enchiladas or make turkey soup: Brown an onion, add chopped carrots, celery or whatever vegetables you have fresh, frozen or canned. Add salt and lots of chopped turkey. Cook in vegetable broth, season with rosemary, add some rice or noodles and enjoy… Better than a Thanksgiving dinner! Freeze any remaining left overs to pull out on a busy night you need a quick dinner!
Day 6, Keep your community vibrant and walkable. Support your local businesses and walk to them. #smallbusinesssaturday
Day 5, Count your blessings, and avoid retailers.
If you’re looking to avoid impulse buying this year, take time not only to celebrate with your friends and family, but also to count your blessings. You may find that the easiest way to thwart retailers’ enticements as you peruse the shopping aisle isn’t to try to resist what you want; it’s to be thankful for what you have.
Day 4, Be thankful, freeze leftovers and disperse food to your guests.
“The amount of turkey wasted over Thanksgiving—about 204 million pounds—is enough to provide 46 four-ounce servings of turkey for every American household that is food insecure. Forty-six per household! Instead, it lands in our garbage can, as do all the resources it took to grow and nurture those birds: enough water to supply New York City for 100 days and the greenhouse gasequivalent to 800,000 car trips from San Francisco to New York.
This Thanksgiving, I invite you to truly be thankful for the feast before you and to take control of your plate and portions. Stop for a moment and reflect on everything it takes to bring that brilliant feast to your table—the grains that were grown to feed your turkey,the bog that nurtured your cranberries, the land that allowed your pumpkin to spread its big leaves all over, and the hands that worked tirelessly to grow our food. Then fill your plate with just what you can actually eat, and dig in! Dana Gunder, Natural Resources Defense Council
Day 3, Purchase food items in the bulk aisle. Buying bulk can save on packaging, and eliminates food waste because you can get only the amount you need. Co-ops will let you bring your own containers to refill, and bulk buying saves you money. Purchasing bulk items is my favorite way to shop!
Day 2, Serve municipal water in real glasses. A new wasteful trend has developed. Often the only water served at parties is water in small plastic bottles. A great way to cut waste and save money is to drink water from public water systems. Run it through a Brita or other water filter and you have water as good or better than bottled water. Water filters can be recycled at Terracycle.com
Day 1, Always use real plates, cups, glasses and silverware. If you lack enough
for your party or dinner, borrow from a friend or relative. The quality of your party improves 100% even if everything doesn’t match. It will still make your event special.