Did you know the average person produces 475 pounds food waste per year?
Some toss out food scraps that are safe to eat (and delicious) while others treat the sell-by date as a hard rule. Some people pitch produce with surface flaws,or cook more food than they need, and toss out the leftovers.
But what are the negative effects of food waste - both on our wallets, and on the environment?
The financial impact of food waste is huge. Food lost and wasted at the retail and consumer levels accounts for approximately $162 billion per year. And a family of four wastes $1,500 alone. Not only that, but decomposing food waste, which is the single largest component going to municipal landfills, releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. In fact, 20 percent of total U.S. methane emissions come from landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
While reducing food waste lost in the manufacturing and production setting may be a larger challenge, here are four things you can do at home to reduce your impact and live a more sustainable lifestyle:
Get creative in the kitchen
The ORC International Smoothie Tracker recently identified leftovers as the number two food waste item at home. To combat this problem, find new and unique ways to use leftovers. Toss chicken bones and scraps into a pot of water, slowly bring to a boil and then simmer. Add herbs and other seasonings for a broth that can be used for soups, stews, and noodle bowls, like this chicken ramen recipe. Or, take your Thanksgiving leftovers to the next level, transforming them into these tasty tacos.
Prep, plan, and preserve meals
Plan your meals ahead of time to help you stay on track. Take inventory of your pantry and fridge; note anything that might expire soon. Create a meal plan for the week that uses these items, ideally selecting meals that build off of one another, so you can use leftovers from the night before to make breakfast, lunch, or dinner a day later. Sketching out meals in advance keeps you from making more than you need. You can also preserve foods—even full meals—by freezing, canning or pickling. Fruits, vegetables, meat and bread tend to be the first foods to go bad. The good news is they can be frozen and enjoyed later. To learn more about meal prep, check out this article here.
Use food scraps
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers (like potatoes and jicama) have the highest wastage rates of any food. Did you know you can blend whole fruits and vegetables in a Vitamix blender? Plus, whole-food juicing is a great way to get more nutrients and energy into your diet. You can also practice countertop composting with FoodCycler, tossing food scraps into the removable bucket. This compact device breaks down fruit cores, vegetable peels, dairy, chicken bones, and more into a tenth of its original volume and creates a nutrient-rich fertilizer you can add to soil.
Eat the imperfect
Some people throw away or choose not to purchase fruits and vegetables that don’t look as nice as others. They might have bumps or bruises, but likely taste the same as their better-looking counterparts. Rather than tossing out this not-so-pretty produce, take a risk—and a bite. Chances are you won’t be disappointed. You can even subscribe to receive ugly produce delivery boxes from companies like Imperfect Foods or Misfits Market to get them sent straight to your home.
No matter how you choose to reduce your impact and live a more sustainable life, every little bit helps. Even small actions can help contribute to the goal to reduce food loss and waste by half by the year 2030. If we save just 15% of food waste, we’d have enough to feed 25 million individuals.
How do you reduce food waste using your Vitamix blender? Share your tips using #myvitamix.