Food makes up the largest percentage of waste going into municipal landfills, accounting for over 21% of total waste. This waste could be prevented, used to feed people, or composted to create a valuable soil amendment. Reducing food losses by just 15% would feed more than 25 million Americans per year — considering that 1 in 6 Americans lack a secure supply of food.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are six ways you can reduce food waste:
1. Source Reduction – Start at the grocery store
Source reduction is preventing food waste before it happens. Source reduction includes lowering our over-purchasing of food, planning meals ahead of time, avoiding impulse buys, and storing your food properly to reduce spoilage. This leads us to think more about questions such as: How hungry am I? Do I really need all of this on my plate and in my fridge? Become a more conscious shopper — buy exactly what you need and be realistic — for your health, your wallet, and the environment.
2. Feeding Others
If you realize you have too much food in your pantry and won’t be able to consume everything before it goes bad, donate it! Help those who do not have enough food by donating at food pantries, food banks, and food rescue programs, which are available across the country.
3. Feeding animals
Live close to a farm? Recover your food discards as animal feed! This will help sustain local livestock.
4. Industrial Uses
You should not be disposing of fats, oils, and grease in your garbage. According to the EPA, they can “clog pipes and pumps both in the public sewer lines as well as in wastewater treatment facilities. Liquid fats and solid meat products can be used as raw materials in the rendering industry, which converts them into animal food, cosmetics, soap, and other products. Many companies will provide storage barrels and free pick-up service.”
5. Composting – DIY
Composting has become a very popular way to reduce food waste lately. It is simple, easy, and you can measure the difference you’re making! Simply set aside your food scraps and drop them off at a local farmers market, or have your own composting at home.
6. Anaerobic digestion
Anae-what? Anaerobic digestion is an industrial process in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material. Food can be digested at specific facilities. “If 50 percent of the food waste generated each year in the U.S. was anaerobically digested, enough electricity would be generated to power 2.5 million homes for a year.” Food can be digested at specific facilities. Learn more visit the EPA’s page!
I hope you are feeling inspired and excited to reduce your food waste! Here are some more ideas to become an expert at food waste reduction.
Written by Claire Bouillon, Environmental Services Intern.