How can we reduce food waste?

| July 13, 2021

Estimates indicate that up to a third of food is wasted across the planet, contributing to landfills and pollution from incineration and greenhouse gas emissions. Food waste includes what’s thrown away or spoiled during production or preparation and what’s left after consumption, including packaging. Food producers, stores, and restaurant owners have their own tools to lower waste percentages but here are things consumers can do to help:

  • Buy only what’s needed so food doesn’t spoil before its “use by” date.
  • Reduce portion sizes.
  • Enroll in local Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) to bring in fresh produce from nearby farms.
  • Find ways to use all of what’s edible, such as the stems of broccoli, and brown, spotted bananas, which are perfect for baking bread and muffins.
  • Be creative in your cooking; modify recipes to use what you have on hand and reuse typically discarded by-products (like the bones from roasted chickens) for broths, sauces, etc.
  • Compost eggshells, coffee grounds, and rinds to fertilize gardens and yards.
  • Share surplus food with neighbors, friends, and local shelters as permitted.
  • Purchase less-than-perfect produce from companies such as Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods.
  • Recycle packaging—but be aware of what your local collection company will and won’t pick up, and understand that much recycling ends up in landfills and waterways in Asia and most recently, Kenya, significantly decimating these landscapes and adding to the products’ total carbon footprints through fossil fuel–driven transport.
  • Download apps that guide you toward more sustainable grocery shopping and eating and connect you with restaurants that sell surplus portions at a discount, such as Food for All in Boston and New York and Too Good to Go in Europe and in some parts of the United States.

Source: Can Fixing Dinner Fix the Planet? by Jessica Fanzo, PhD (Johns Hopkins University Press, June 2021).