Sep 24, 2021
Food waste is a major source of the organic matter that is landfilled. The NJDEP estimated in their 2020 New Jersey Global Warming Response Act 80x50 Report that food waste makes up about 25% of the municipal solid waste stream. The decomposition of organic matter is one of the main sources of methane emissions from municipal solid waste, which contributes to climate change.
By making small changes in our everyday lives, we can reduce the amount of food waste we create. Use the following tips to improve your environmental impact.
Make a shopping list at home
Writing your shopping list from home gives you the opportunity to check your kitchen first and make sure your do not buy extra items at the grocery store that you already have available.
Plan your week’s menu
If you plan your recipes for the week before you go to the store, you will not purchase unnecessary items that you do not have a plan for.
Log the food that you throw away
Find a pattern by keeping a log of the food items you throw away. You will learn what foods you can purchase less of in the future or not purchase at all.
Don’t be afraid to buy “ugly” produce
You don’t have to go for the most visually appealing produce in the produce section of the store. If fruits and vegetables with blemishes are consistently passed up at the store, they will end up as trash.
Do not prewash fruit and vegetables
It is best to only wash your produce before you are going to use or eat it. There is no need to wash your produce before you store it because bacteria can still grow after. Washing produce with water can cause it spoil faster. This tip also helps save water!
Use your freezer
Freezing food will help your preserve it for longer periods of time. Fruits and vegetables that are starting to turn can be placed in the freezer to use in smoothies and juices later. Soups and chili can also be stored in the freezer for long periods of time.
Do not overpack your fridge
Have you ever found a yogurt cup in the back of the fridge? By keeping the refrigerator shelves clutter-free, you can avoid forgetting foods and causing them to spoil.
Understand the dates on food
You do not have to throw away a food item because the “best-by” date has passed. The dates printed on items are created by manufacturers to provide an idea for when it will taste best. Most food, with the exception of baby products, is safe to eat beyond these dates. It’s best to rely on your senses to tell if food has gone bad.
Compost your food scraps
Fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags (without the staple) can all be used to create fertilizer for your garden. Composting both benefits your garden and keeps food waste from entering the landfill. Learn how to become an expert composter by reading our backyard composting blog post with tips and information to help you get started.
Ferment or pickle foods to keep them preserved
Learning how to ferment and pickle is a great method to keep your food lasting longer. Popular vegetables that can be fermented are cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, radishes and more.
Get creative when cooking in the kitchen
Many people remove and throw away the skin from fruits and vegetables. Try adapting your recipes or using new ones that utilize all parts of your produce. Stems, ends and peels of produce can be blended in smoothies for soup.
Don’t let your leftovers go to waste! Leftovers not only help you save time and money the next day, but helps you reduce food waste. When you have extra food at a restaurant, ask for a to-go container or bring your own reusable container.