Cutting down on food waste is one of the best, and easiest, things you can do to help the environment and pad your wallet. Americans throw away anywhere from one quarter to one half of their food, which leads to tons of greenhouse gas emissions and billions of lost dollars. This waste, much of which comes from food that has not gone bad yet, costs Americans over $1 billion alone to process as garbage, and represents a huge gap between rising food bank attendance and falling donations, not to mention international food riots.
Food scraps are the third-largest contributor to U.S. waste, comprising upwards of 50 million tons. What’s more, this waste produces methane, a greenhouse gas more powerful than CO2. Some studies estimate that reducing food waste by half could cut negative environmental impacts by up to 25%.
So take a look at the leftover items in your fridge. Try a system of labeling so you know when to use them and freeze more food so it doesn’t go bad. That last strip of bacon or bit of fatty meat? Throw it in a pot with some extra beans and build a soup around it. Broccoli that’s starting to turn brown? Sautee it and cover it in an omelette or some macaroni and cheese. Find a local food bank or homeless shelter that accepts donations. Or, try composting your turned or moldy vegetables. Whatever you do, consider all possible uses for your food before you throw it away.