3 Ways to Avoid Food Waste
An astonishing 35 million tons of food waste end up in landfills in the US every year – and a large part of it is from private homes. Just to give you a perspective: that is a fifth of all the waste in any given year. Even though organic waste decomposes eventually, it takes up the already limited space in landfills, it can harm wildlife, it produces methane and of course, it’s a huge waste of resources. Think of all the energy, water, money, and labor that went into producing that food.
Sustainable shopping made simple
Fortunately, there is a lot that we can do to reduce food waste:
You’ll often read that making a weekly meal plan and then shopping only for those ingredients can help reduce food waste. This is certainly true, but not something that works for everybody.
I’m one of those spontaneous cooks – I simply can’t sit down and imagine what I might want to eat next Tuesday… if you can relate, there is a different way of planning that can help.
Instead of planning your shopping around your meals, you can plan your meals around your shopping. I make sure to always have enough of my staples at home – since my son loves pasta, this includes noodles and canned tomatoes.
My grocery list often includes “fruit” or “veggies”. So, when I browse the produce aisle, I make my decisions by which fruit looks ripe or which vegetable is available without extra plastic wrapping.
So, where is the planning part? Before I start cooking, I check my fridge for ingredients. I pick the things with a limited shelf life and create a meal around them. When I cook a marinara sauce, I always add some veggies – not always the same, but simply what I find in my fridge.
2. KEEPING FOOD FRESH
Imagine you are making a mixed salad. You may only need half a bell pepper, a part of a cucumber, or a few shreds of purple cabbage. Say you just want to add a few pieces of banana to your cereal. What do you do with the rest? Since we’re trying to avoid waste, using cling film or plastic bags seems absurd.
But putting that half banana or that sliced tomato in the fridge without a cover will make it dry up or take on odors.
This is where Food Huggers step in. This company – one of our new favorite finds - has been launched as a Kickstarter project to start manufacturing reusable silicone covers for all fruit and vegetable leftovers. With their different sizes, you can always find one that fits, and they look as adorable as their name.
After the resounding success of the original Food Huggers, their product lines now also include bowl lids in different sizes, reusable and easy-to-clean silicone bags, and my personal favorite: avocado huggers.
3. USING FOOD AND LEFTOVERS
It’s great to know that your food keeps fresh in the fridge. Now all you need to do is use it.
Make it a habit to check your fridge for leftovers before cooking. Not only can you plan your meal around the perishable products while they are still good, but you can also use up leftovers.
Be creative with your favorite recipes and see if you can add different ingredients. Soups and stews are a great way to give leftover meats and cooked veggies, and smoothies are my go-to solution if there is more fruit than anyone cares to snack on.
SUMMARY: START WITH THE FIRST STEPS
The concept of zero waste can be really intimidating, but it can be easy and fun to move in the right direction. Reducing food waste is a great way to start the journey to a more sustainable household.
Another great way is to buy eco-friendly alternatives for the products you use on a regular basis. Did you know the FREE askBelynda Chrome Extension can help you with this? When you search for personal care or household products on Amazon, it pops up and shows which products on the platform are more sustainable. We thoroughly vet the companies included, so if you want to know more, click on the “Reasons Why” and find out what criteria we look for.
Jennifer Scales is a photo artist and train travel enthusiast. When she is not vetting companies for askBelynda, she spreads her love for sustainable travel by capturing the beauty of nature seen through the train window.
Check out her website Landscape in Motion and follow Jennifer Scales | Fine Art on Instagram to see her artwork.