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5. Plan Ahead to Prevent Food Waste

We’ve all done it: bought too much food, forgotten about it and then discovered the bag of wilted greens, stale bread or moldy cheese tucked in the back of the fridge. It happens to the best of us from time to time -- but if this is a weekly occurrence at your house, it is time to mend your ways!

Current estimates on food waste in the U.S. are staggering – 40%of the food in this country is thrown in the trash. This level of waste is – well – wasteful, and we must do better. Food is, in fact, the single largest component of municipal solid waste reaching America’s landfills and incinerators. From a purely climate perspective, food waste is a big deal.  

It is critically important to understand the difference between what happens to food that goes to the landfill versus food that goes to the compost pile. In a compost pile, food scraps decompose with the help of air, heat and microorganisms, eventually becoming healthy soil. Unlike a compost pile, landfills are compacted so tightly that food decomposes without oxygen (anaerobically), creating methane – a greenhouse gas with 23 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. In the U.S. landfills account for almost 25% of all methane emissions.

While food waste occurs at each step in the supply chain – including production, storage, processing and distribution – we consumers have a significant role to play.

  • Plan ahead – avoid buying more than you’ll use and use the weekend to plan for the week
  • Save leftovers – and re-imagine them for lunch or dinner
  • Freeze or can food – before it has a chance to go bad
  • Share excess with your friends, family, and co-workers!

Together, we can help create a healthier, more appreciative culture where wasting food simply isn’t tolerated.

And if from time to time you do end up with some food waste, make sure to compost it properly where it will turn into soil.

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