Here's the problem: According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Forty percent of food produced in the United States ends up in a landfill. The amount of food we throw away has ballooned 50 percent since the 1970s. And, the facts on food waste are especially hard to swallow in light of concurrent news that one in five Americans struggles to pay for food.
Food waste is a growing issue but to tackle it, we can begin by reducing it. First, what does reducing waste mean? When you avoid making garbage in the first place, you eliminate the disposing of waste or recycling it later. It's the first component of the sustainability concept of the three R's: reduce, reuse, and recycle. As a sustainability consultant, I oftentimes ask clients, "What is in your garbage?" Why? Becauase your garbage can give you clues as to how to reduce food waste and other waste.
Clue #1: This is an easy one. If you look in your garbage and notice paper, plastic, aluminum, kitchen waste and more all combined together, then your first step towards building a personal sustainability program is to embrace the sustainability concept of recycle. Separate the paper, plastics, glass, and aluminum into bins and begin a recycling program. Take notice of the food waste. Begin to ask yourself why it was tossed? Did you buy too much? Was it not consumed timely? These clues offer new ideas for purchasing and consumption patterns.
Clue #2: Inspect the paper and plastic in your garbage. Are the paper products you are using made from recycled content? Do you receive a lot of junk mail? Are you using reusable containers? What kind of garbage bags do you use? Take eco action and make a difference. Address each area and explore ways to reduce your waste as well as make more environmentally friendly choices.
Following are some suggestions from our eco friendly training classes:
• Pre plan your meals, buy in bulk, and prepare what you need.
• Compost and turn your old food into healthy soil.
Reduce when you shop and shop with the environment in mind:
• Purchase products that are returnable, reusable or refillable. Use reusable and refillable containers in your home instead of disposable items.
• Purchase products with the least amount of packaging.
• Get the most out of what you buy by comparing warranties and cost to repair or replace the item.
• Look for products designed with the environment in mind. Organic clothing, sustainable furnishings, and solar powered products are just a few examples.
• Rent or borrow instead of purchasing.
Reduce items at home:
• Reduce paper consumption- go paperless.
• Find new life for old furnishings, appliances and clothes.
By evaluating the contents of your garbage, there exist the opportunity to make more sustainable purchase choices, to reduce your waste, and to modify behavior to support the environment.