You Waste Not, Others Might Want Not

This weekend, the NYT posted a story about the vast amount of food that American's waste every year, as much as 27% off all food available for consumption. That happens at every step of the distribution pipeline, from factories to your refrigerator, resulting in almost 100 billion pounds of edible food hitting the trash can.

What's worse is much of that — as much as 98%, according to the article — ends up in landfills, slowly moldering away and manufacturing methane gas. People go hungry, we waste money and the environment suffers. Triple whammy.

Here are some ideas to help cut your wasteful ways:

  1. Eat what you buy. When planning tonight's dinner, try to cook with the oldest food in the house, especially veggies that are past their prime.
  2. Compost. For both wasted food and inedible scraps, composting stops overloading landfills and starts putting the valuable energy and nutrients back into the soil. Even better if you're using the compost to fertilize a backyard vegetable garden.
  3. Shop frequently. It might use up a tad more gas, but at least you'll only be buying what you need for a few days, leaving you a better chance to consume as much as you buy. Goodbye, weekly trip to the grocery.
  4. Support reclaimed food charities. Groups like Tampa Bay Harvest work with grocery stores, restaurants and others to pick up unwanted but edible food and get it into the hands of people who need it most. Encourage places you shop to participate, or you can sign up to volunteer. The organization has a great system that pairs volunteers with pick up and delivery routes close to their work and home.
  5. Buy less food. The less you have, the less you'll waste. Maybe it's time to see the bottom of that vegetable drawer again.
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