Ever think about how much food ends up in the garbage? In the land of plenty, it turns out we're tossing literally tons of food. The United States alone tosses out nearly 60 million tons of food every year. That's like each person in America throwing away 975 apples annually. Yeah, we've got a bit of a food-wasting habit, and it's costing us – nearly $218 billion worth of food, or 130 billion meals, to be exact. (Source)
While we're tossing out those metaphorical apples, around 35 million people in America are struggling with food insecurity, including 10 million kids.
So why are we wasting so much grub? Part of the problem is confusion. Expiration dates are like riddles on food packages. More than 80% of Americans throw out food that's still good because they can't decipher those "sell by" or "use by" dates.
But we're making strides in the right direction. As of January 1, 2022, people and organizations throughout California are required to separate organic material (mainly food scraps and yard waste) from other garbage.
Part of the reason the law came into being is that organic waste that's added to trash carts ends up in landfills. The EPA estimated that food waste accounted for over 21% of the waste in landfills in 2018.
When the waste breaks down in a landfill, it releases methane into the atmosphere. As a primary component of natural gas, methane is a greenhouse gas (GHG) that has a significantly stronger warming effect than carbon dioxide.
A goal of the state is to have a 75% reduction in the level of the statewide disposal of organic waste into landfills from the 2014 level by 2025. (Source)
So, how can we do our part? Here are some easy tips to chip away at food waste from the comfort of your kitchen:
- Understand the Dates: Those "best by" dates? They're not expiration dates. Most of the time, they're just the manufacturer's best guess for peak quality. Don't toss food just because the date's passed; trust your senses instead.
- Plan Your Meals: It's all about shopping smart. Plan your meals for the week, make a list, and stick to it. This way, you buy only what you need, and you're less likely to end up with a fridge full of forgotten food.
- Love Your Leftovers: Got extras? Embrace them! Leftovers are your next meal prepped and ready to go. Get creative – yesterday's roasted veggies can be today's soup or salad topping. Whether it's stainless steel tiffins, silicone bags, or wax wraps, we have options to store and take your leftovers to go!
- Store Smart: Learn how to store your groceries properly to extend their shelf life. Apples in the fridge, potatoes in a cool, dark place – it's a bit of a learning curve, but your food (and wallet) will thank you. Try our organic cotton produce storage bags to store your fruits and veggies.
- Compost the Rest: If you've got a garden, composting is like hitting two birds with one stone. You reduce waste and get some top-notch soil for your plants. Check out our countertop food compost collector or check out our in-store options.
- Share the Wealth: Got more than you can handle? Share it with a neighbor, friend, or a local food bank. It's a win-win for everyone. Share the extras in our reusable bags and totes.
- Preserve the Bounty: Pickling, canning, freezing – these are all awesome ways to keep your food from going bad. Plus, you get to enjoy out-of-season flavors all year round.
This isn't about a total kitchen overhaul; it's about small, doable changes that add up over time. So next time you're in the kitchen, think about those apples – and let's keep them on our plates, not in the landfill.