Hows and Whys of Reducing Our Food Waste
You are probably spending around $2,000 a year on food that you end up throwing away. Both in the US and around the world, food waste is a major issue that is placing pressure on our wallets and natural resources.
Here’s what would happened if we all reduced our food waste worldwide:
- The gap between food that is available today and the food that is needed for the world’s population in 2050 would be closed by over 20 percent according to the World Resources Institute.
- We would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by around eight percent according to the FAO.
- We would avoid the need to expand farmland that devastates forests and wildlife habitats.
- Each of us would save thousands of dollars a year.
- We would need less landfills, and methane emissions from landfills would be reduced as less food is thrown away.
With all of the negative effects of food waste, it’s a component for us to consider as part of our full circle sustainability. Of a list called Drawdown of 100 of the best solutions for reversing the changing climate and its devastating consequences, food waste ranks the third. Even a 50 percent reduction in food waste by 2050 would avoid 26.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide, according to the Drawdown analyses.
The best way to reduce food waste is to avoid creating that waste in the first place, and you can find tips on reducing your personal waste here.
Some quick tips:
- Buy only what you need. Buying in bulk is not always a good thing. Do you really need 10 lbs of carrots? Chance are, they will go bad before you have time to eat them.
- Make more frequent trips to the store. Make it a habit to go to the store every few days, rather than once a week.
- Make a list. Go to the store armed with a shopping list. This will not only save time, it will reduce the impulse purchases.
- Keep your fridge clutter-free. If you can't see that bag of tomatoes in the back of the drawer, you probably won't eat them.
- Make a weekly meal plan, and buy only what you need for your meals.
At Alter Eco, we work with our co-ops and our producers to make sure food waste is reduced along the way.
Our chocolate-making partner, Halba, has been working to reduce food waste by using it for animal feed, compost, or the production of biogas. Cocoa shells make up the largest portion of waste for Halba’s factories, which is an unavoidable part of the chocolate production process as cacao is separated from its shells. Halba also works with cosmetics companies to sell the cocoa shells for use to manufacture fragrances.
When waste cannot be reduced, composting is the next best option. In our home city of San Francisco, 600 tons of compost are collected a day as part of a curbside composting program the city made mandatory in 2017, and we have been composting in our offices since 2014. San Francisco is one of hundreds of cities and towns that are supporting programs where compost can be picked up from every home. Some examples of other cities are Portland (OR), Boulder (CO), Seattle (WA), Iowa City (IA), Cambridge (MA), and you can figure out if this is done in your city with a search on curbside composting.
By thinking about how we can reduce our waste, we can all work towards solving the problems it causes.