Most of us don’t realize that food waste is as big of a problem as it is. Statistically, nearly half of the world’s food supply is thrown out or wasted, and for various reasons. Equalling about 1.3 billion tonnes a year, it is the highest contributor to carbon emissions than even the airline industry!
With this in mind, PostHarvest has created a mission to educate consumers on exactly how to reduce their food waste, and use up as much produce as possible. With education comes awareness, and with awareness, impact, and change.
Let’s go over the top 10 ways that you, as a consumer, can reduce food waste starting today.
- Shop smart
- Store food correctly
- Learn to Preserve
- Reduce Clutter
- Save Leftovers
- Blend it up
- Use your freezer
- Know your expiry dates
1. Shop Smart
You know how they say to “not grocery shop hungry or on an empty stomach”, but this could not be more true. We always tend to buy way more groceries than we need. Bulk buying your products might seem like the most cost-effective at the moment, but there has been lots of research that has shown otherwise.
Practical ways around this would be to go to the grocery store maybe 2-3 times a week instead of a large trip once a week. Don’t go back until you use up all or the majority of your groceries, as you can double up, and the original batch becomes wasted food.
Also- create a grocers shopping list and stick to it. Avoid buying foods impulsively that look good at the moment can contribute to waste when the cravings wear off.
2. Store Food Correctly
Knowing how to store your products can help reduce waste. According to NRDC, up to two-thirds of food waste in households is due to spoilage! Not knowing where or how to store your food heavily contributes to these losses.
It is important to know your climacteric and non-climacteric produce types. Storing them together can create premature ripening and rotten produce, because of the ethylene production that occurs.
Ethylene is a gas that is created once produce begins to ripen. It starts to quickly affect the shelf life of produce in surrounding areas if the ripening fruit isn’t identified and removed quickly.
Foods that produce ethylene gas while ripening include:
- Green onions
Produce have all different sensitivity levels, and it is important to know which ones not to store together. Some examples of ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables are apples, leafy greens, potatoes, and berries.
Knowledge about this can help reduce your losses in large qualities.
3. Learn to Preserve
Preservation techniques such as pickling and fermenting have been around for thousands of years. For example pickling, or preserving with vinegar and brine, has been recorded to have been used in 2400 BC!
Using these preservation techniques can help make food last longer, and ultimately reduce waste. They can also help you save money too. Examples like making apples into applesauce or pickling vegetables can help create fun treats and snacks for everyone.
4. Reduce Clutter
When you overbuy, you tend to clutter all the food into your fridge and hope for the best. This of course contributes to food waste. Having a well-organized fridge, and as mentioned, organising your fresh produce according to ethylene sensitivity will help you decrease losses overall. Also using FIFO (first in, first out), will help you use the food that has been stored the longest first, and preserve the newest for later use.
5. Save Leftovers
This one might seem a bit too practical, and one our parents definitely lectured us about! Use and save your leftovers. We’ll create large meals throughout the week, and be tempted to throw out the access, but if you can store them in clear containers will help you remember to finish them later, which encourages you to not throw them away later. It also helps you save time and money.
6. Blend It Up
Though it sounds super simple, and not a tip many would think of, but using up fruit and even vegetables like avocados, kale, and spinach are great ways to get in those daily nutrients as well as reduce food waste. Even parts of the product such as stems are nutrient-dense and can be used to be blended in, and used in a smoothie or fresh juice. Get creative, stay healthy, and reduce food waste!
7. Get Friendly With Your Freezer
When you know you won’t be using certain produce items in your fridge anytime soon, throwing them into the freezer can help preserve them for later use. There are so many different kinds of foods you can freeze for long-term storage in freezer-safe bags and reuse them later. You can freeze leftovers from meals, soups, chilis, and more. It’s a great way to always have access to the food you need for recipes in the kitchen.
8. Understand Expiration Dates
When your produce or grocery items have “sell by” and “expires on” stickers, it’s easy to get a bit confused as to when your groceries are expired by.
“Sell by” and “expires on” are just two of the many confusing terms companies use on food labels to let consumers know when a product will most likely go bad. The fact is most foods that just past their expiration date are still okay to eat.
“Sell by” is to let retailers know when the product should be removed or sold from the shelves. “Best by”, however, is the suggested date to let consumers know when to use the products by. Both terms don’t necessarily mean they’re bad to eat, but you should use the “use by” as the main guideline on whether your product is still fresh enough to eat.
The technique of composting all of your good food scraps is a great way to reuse them and turn potential waste into energy for plants. Don’t have an outdoor composting system? There are many different countertop versions of composting systems that allow you to easily compost, making it accessible for anyone. You can find some examples of this here.
There are many different ways that you can reuse, recycle, and overall reduce the amount of food waste in your home. Taking on the mentioned tips will not only help you play a small part in being eco-friendly but also saves time and money too.
Thinking creatively about your household’s food waste daily can help create positive changes and help conserve resources. A little bit adds up to a lot, at the end of the day. PostHarvest Learning has put together more learning resources, blogs, and videos for consumers to be educated on how to play their part in reducing food waste, food safety, and making the world a better, more sustainable place.
You can find these free resources here. Do you have any practical tips on food waste that you and your family use? Leave them in the comments below, and let’s chat!