5 Ways Reducing Food Waste Can Help Save the Environment

vegetables and bread - 5 ways reducing food waste can help save the environment

Do you know what becomes of the food you throw away? Recent research shows that food waste is a big problem for the environment. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates 3 billion tons of food waste each year, and this negatively affects the environment. More than $220 billion goes into food production in the USA, yet over 70 million tons of food goes to waste.

When you throw away food at home or in your business, consider the resources that go into its production. With global climate change now a major topic of discussion, there are increased concerns about food waste and how to curb its effect on the environment.

Food Waste and the Environment

Before food gets to your table, a lot of resources go into its production, from farming and harvesting to transportation, distribution, marketing and other processes in the production chain. For instance, water, fossil fuels, coal and other resources contribute to producing food products, and most of these directly affect the environment. 

Fossil fuel extraction and use, for example, lead to emissions that contribute to climate change. And research shows that food waste causes over $172 billion in wasted water. When you waste food, you also waste the amounts of the resources that went into its production. This is how food waste becomes a major contributor to environmental degradation.

Ideas to Reduce Waste and Save the Environment

bananas oranges and peppers in dish - 5 ways reducing food waste can help save the environment

With this insight on food waste and its impact on the environment, it’s time to learn how you can reduce food waste to save the environment. Here are five solid ideas:

Shop Right; Shop Smart

Consumers can reduce food waste by making the right shopping decisions. Most people buy more food than they need, and this inadvertently leads to waste. Take a quick look at your shopping habits and you’ll realize that buying in bulk usually ends up in excess food.

Buying in bulk might save you a few bucks and make your life easier, but ultimately, some of the food products you buy will end up in a landfill near you. This means all the resources that went into the production of that food item go to waste.

If you make a few more trips to the store on your way home from work, you can buy only what you need for a day or two. If every household owner adopts this smart shopping idea as part of a green living strategy, there’s less food waste. Shopping smart also includes making a list of necessary food items and buying only what is on that list.

Store Your Food Correctly

Poor food storage is a major cause of food waste in modern homes. Even with advanced food storage and preservation technology, a lot of food goes bad because of poor storage at home. For a start, keep the refrigerator temperature below 5°C (41°). There are some foods you should never refrigerate, such as tomatoes, garlic, potatoes, cucumbers and onions.

You should also separate foods that ripen and produce ethylene gas, such as tomatoes, peaches, bananas, green onions and avocados. Separate these foods from peppers, leafy greens, berries, potatoes and apples to avoid premature spoilage. 

Your refrigerator should have specific positions for specific foods:

  • the coldest parts for seafood and raw meat
  • door for pickles and condiments
  • middle shelves for dairy products and eggs
  • upper deck for deli meat and cheese
  • high-humidity drawer at the bottom for vegetables that wilt easily
  • low-humidity drawer for soft fruits and vegetables

Refresh Your Cooking Skills

There’s a lot of food that finds its way to the bin because of poor cooking skills. If you don’t have the right skills in the kitchen, you’ll end up throwing a lot of food away when your family declines to eat it. Start by researching cooking ideas for any food you wish to cook.

For instance, fish is a popular delicacy, but many people have problems cooking it right. When broiling a salmon, for example, check the internal temp of salmon at the thickest part of the fish to make sure it’s done. The idea is to make delicious and healthy meals that your family won’t throw away.

Go Back to Preservation Basics

Some preservation techniques, which have worked for ages, can come in handy to help you save food in your household. Consider drying, freezing, curing, pickling, canning and fermenting your food to preserve it longer.

Use the FIFO Technique for Your Fridge

Your refrigerator is at the center of food use in your home and if you use it right, you can save a lot of food. The FIFO approach means “first in, first out.” Many restaurants use this method to avoid wastage. Always try to cook the foods you bought first and store those you bought today at the back of the fridge or cupboards.

Small Steps to Save the Environment

Food waste has a negative impact not only on the environment but also on your finances. These are just a few ideas to get you started on reducing food waste, which helps save the environment and also reduces the cost of groceries.

Feature image: Timur Saglambilek; Image 1: Manuel Joseph

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