According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, almost 40% of the food produced and distributed in the United States never gets eaten. That works out to an estimated $160 billion in food a year. Waste disposal is also expensive and costs billions and billions annually. There are also environmental and social consequences, such as increased greenhouse gas emissions and hunger among the less fortunate. Add non-edible waste that is associated with food, like plastic products and food packaging, and we have a big problem.
This is why starting at home and working toward a zero waste kitchen is important. Achieving a zero waste kitchen may seem daunting and maybe even impossible. Making small changes, though, can have huge impact on waste.
Here are some tips to help you reduce waste.
1. Choose reusable bags and containers: Bring containers and your own bags to the store to pack groceries. Commit to reusable cotton or mesh bags for produce, instead of the plastic ones stores provide. Many stores also let you bring in containers to buy bulk foods like beans, pasta, nuts and seeds.
2. Avoid processed foods: The more processed the food is, the more packaging it usually has. Think about how much waste a box of granola bars has! You can easily, make your own granola and energy bars and wrap them in reusable beeswax paper for lunches or snacks. This not only reduces waste, but also encourages a healthier diet.
3. Watch for spoilage: Regularly check your fridge for spoiled food. If fruits and veggies have had better days and look a little tired, don’t throw them out. Turn them into smoothies, or soups and stews. Or you can freeze them to use later!
4. Shop wisely: Plan your meals and make a grocery list and stick to it. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid the aisles, if possible. You will save money and improve the environment and your health.
5. Cook smaller meals: If you constantly have leftovers, start scaling down your meals. Exceptions to this can be soups, stews and chilis, which can easily be frozen and reheated for quick, healthy meals.
6. Rethink cleaning supplies: Replace paper towels with washable cotton towels and use biodegradable sponges and dish brushes. You can also make your cleaning supplies with vinegar,lemons and baking soda.
Photo from here, with thanks.