Before ACT dives into food waste solutions, we need to face an ugly truth that the US alone wastes around 40% of its food supply! That is about 125 to 160 billion pounds of food that goes into the trash bin. The sad thing is that a lot of this food waste is still safe, edible, healthy, and full of nutrients.
So you might be wondering: why is this food wasted? There are lots of reasons. They could be spoiled due to weather, improper preservation, improper handling, or bad quality of ingredients. Overproduction, instability of markets, overbuying, overstocking, poor food planning, or missing out the expiration date can also be major causes.
This article further explains the harmful effects of too much food waste, how to lessen food waste, benefits of preventing food waste, and what the government is doing to solve the food waste problem.
Effects of Food Waste to Global Waste
For many people, food waste is just uneaten meals, and they don’t think much about it after scraping it from the plate to the trash bin. However, such waste drains a lot of money. Around $218 billion dollars are lost due to food waste in the US.
Also, due to health and sanitation regulations enacted by the federal or state governments, hotels and restaurants dispose of foodstuff that are not consumed within a certain period, usually a number of hours, even though they’re still perfectly consumable. Rarely is this food donated to the less privileged out of concern of contamination and legal action.
In addition, food waste causes unnecessary strain on the environment:
It’s therefore important to diminish food wastage. Even a small percentage can make a huge difference. In fact, if Americans are able to reduce food waste by 15%, there would be enough food to feed over 25 million people per year.
According to recent waste management and recycling statistics, the world generates 2 billion tons of waste every year. As the human population increases dramatically over the next few years, scientists project that this number will also increase to more than 3.40 billion tons in 2050. That number is too huge to sustain a healthy and clean environment.
A significant part of this percentage is food waste, considering that people eat each day. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted all over the world each year. Just imagine just how many millions of starving people can be fed with all that food.
Obviously, the increase of food waste also increases the volume of global waste. Worse, food waste severely affects the environment. Here are just some of its environmental effects:
What are the Food Waste Solutions?
The facts and numbers above highlights the need to reduce food waste. The good thing is the steps needed for preventing food going down the trash are actually easy, practical, and doable.
It has been ingrained that it’s wise to buy food in bulk to save money and lessen fuel consumption. However, buying in bulk may lead to more waste because people tend to buy more than they need.
It’s better to make regular trips to the grocery every few days rather than bulk purchase them once every two weeks. Also, make sure to use or consume all food you purchased during your last grocery trip before going out to buy more groceries.
Make a grocery list
Impulse buying generates lots of food waste because you tend to purchase food items you don’t actually need. To avoid that, list down the items you need to buy then stick to that list. Doing so allows you to not only reduce food waste but to also manage your budget more effectively.
Don’t just choose the perfect-looking produce
Do you spend a lot of time looking for the prettiest or the smoothest, most flawless-looking produce? If so, stop that practice. That’s because whether the food item looks nice or ugly, they often have the same taste and nutritional quality. The ones not selected just because they don’t look visually appealing end up as food waste.
Store food correctly
The labels of most food products contain instructions on how to store them properly. Follow these instructions to ensure food items don’t spoil prematurely. Here’s a guide on how to store food properly as recommended by the FDA.
Keep your refrigerator and freezer clean and uncluttered
Remember the saying “out of sight, out of mind”? This applies particularly to a cluttered and disorganized fridge. That’s because you may be storing food that has or about to be spoiled but you just can’t see it because it’s stuck back in the fridge.
Keep your refrigerator clean and organized so you can clearly see all the food you stored there. A good rule of thumb is to store new food items behind newer ones. In that way, the older food gets used or consumed and not wasted.