Ending Household Food Waste

According to the ReFED roadmap, households are responsible for approximately 43% of the food waste generated in the United States. This translates to roughly 25 million tons per year.

In addition to the costs of wasted energy and resources incurred collectively by American citizens, residential food waste takes an additional economic toll on individual households. In his book, American Wasteland, Jonathan Bloom estimates that American families do not eat approximately 25% of the food they buy. For a family of four, that’s roughly $1,400 to $2,300 per year.

With some simple changes of habit, however, families can keep money in the bank while simultaneously conserving resources and helping their neighbors in need:

1.) Manage Groceries Wisely

Reducing food waste and saving money starts with grocery buying habits. Below is a list of suggestions for smart shopping and food management:  

  • Plan weekly menus. Making a plan at the beginning of the week will remove the pressure of daily meal decision making. Check out Save the Food's "10 Easy Tips for Meal Plannig"
  • Shop strategically. Go to the store with a plan and a list in hand so you’ll know which ingredients to get and how much of each you’ll need. Check out Save the Food's "Shopping Guidelines".
  • Use leftover ingredients. Check out the Amazing Waste cookbook for recipes designed to use up those miscellaneous scraps and leftovers.
  • Relearn expiration dates. You may be surprised to find out what those dates actually mean. Learn more with Save the Food's "Deciphering Dates on Products"
  • Use best storage techniques. Knowing what environmental conditions various foods prefer will stretch their shelf-life and your paycheck. For detailed information, download USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service FoodKeeper App.
  • Learn to preserve. This is a fun and effective way to enjoy the tastes of summer in the dead of winter. Learn how from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

2.) Donate Non-perishables & Garden Produce

Help your neighbors in need by donating non-perishables from your pantry and surplus produce from your garden via AmpleHarvest's step-by-step instructions. Contact your local municipality or food donation agencies for other donation opportunities. 

3.) Lend A Hand

Volunteers are an integral component of food recovery systems, providing much needed services to help connect surplus food with those who need it most. Contact your local municipality, food pantry, or meal center to see how you can get involved. Not sure where to start? Try: AmpleHarvestFeeding America, or a food donation agency near you. 

4.) Compost Food Scraps

Ultimately, there will always be food scraps that won’t get consumed (e.g., eggshells, coffee grounds, banana peels, etc.). Instead of paying to have those materials produce methane in a landfill, establish a home composting setup to transform scraps into a nutrient rich soil amendment for your lawn, landscaping, or garden. Learn composting basics from the Cornell Waste Management Institute (CWMI).

Additional Residential Strategies

EPA: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home
USDA: http://www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/resources/consumers.htm
NRDC: http://savethefood.com/
Spoiler Alert: https://www.foodspoileralert.com/food-waste