Food is the number 1 material sent to the landfill. Because of this, education on food waste reduction is essential. What can you as an individual do in order to reduce food? Here are some tips on food waste reduction:
- Learn to properly cut fruits and vegetables to reduce scrap waste.
- Plan meals for the week and write a grocery list of things you will need (this will help to avoid buying food on impulse).
- Check expiration dates and use food before it expires.
- Check your fridge temperature to ensure your food will stay fresh. The preferred temperature is between 35 and 38 degrees F (1.7 to 3.3 degrees C).
- Clean your fridge regularly.
- Use fruits that are going soft by making them into smoothies or pies, likewise with vegetables (make soup).
- Use leftovers for a different meal the next day—don’t throw them away.
- Rotate food in your cupboard (new to the back and old to the front) to properly ensure that everything is used in a timely manner.
- Buy individual/loose fruits and vegetables instead of packaged to ensure that you are not buying more than you will eat.
- Properly freeze food like bread to use it at a later date.
- Start a compost pile in your backyard made up of food scraps, or try starting a neighborhood composting pile that is accessible to everyone.
- Set goals for yourself and your family/friends—challenge yourself to reduce food waste.
- Donate food that is still good but you know you will not use.
Not only can individuals make a difference, large organizations like hospitals can also reduce food waste. This could include conducting a food waste audit or finding the most cost efficient route for transporting and collecting food.
According to the EPA, 13% of greenhouse gases in the US are associated with growing, manufacturing, and transporting food. Even fat, oil, and grease can be turned into raw material such as soap and bio diesel. Make the landfill a last resort as pictured in the diagram above.
At Gundersen Health System, we aimed to reduce the amount of food sent in the waste stream in 2010. By measuring the amount of leftover food, we decreased food waste by 550 pounds in 7 weeks, which averaged about a 50% improvement! We also donate leftover food to the Salvation Army.
If you would like to reduce food waste, follow these tips and check out our video on properly trimming fruits and vegetables featuring Gundersen Health System Chef, Thomas Sacksteder, Certified Executive Chef (C.E.C), to learn how!