Mother Earth Living

Zero-Waste Tips: How to Reduce Food Waste

Letitia L. Star has written more than 1,100 published articles, including many green living features for Natural Home & Garden, The Herb Companion and GRIT magazines. She specializes in writing effective marketing newsletters and web materials for green product companies, green non-profits, and health food companies. Contact Letitia at or visit her website at

Zero-waste is today’s hot trend for good reason. With the world’s population recently hitting 7 billion, it’s more important than ever not to waste food–a precious resource. Consider these super-easy tips:

1. Sort through your kitchen cabinets and pantry. Why not donate your surplus non-perishable food items to feed hungry people in your community? You’ll help others while clearing away clutter.

Saturday, May 12, 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the Stamp Out Hunger national food drive by the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC). Bag non-perishable, unexpired food items and place them near your mailbox for your letter carrier to deliver to the local food bank or pantry. 

“The needs are particularly sad, even staggering, in 2012,” NALC President Fredric Rolando notes. “Sixteen percent of all Americans are at risk of hunger–uncertain where their next meal may be coming from. That includes 1 in 5 children under the age of 18, plus 4 million seniors who are forced every day to choose between paying a utility bill and buying food.”  

Other hunger-fighting organizations: Feeding America and America’s Second Harvest. Call 1-800-771-2302 for the food bank nearest you. Or search for the terms “food pantry” or “food pantries” or “food bank” and your city and state. 

2. Reuse food scraps.  Here are creative suggestions from Jake Rosenbarger, co-owner of Kim & Jake’s Cakes, a cake shop in Boulder, Colorado, that specializes in wedding cakes, cupcakes and cocktail cakes. 

“We try to use every piece and scrap of cake we can,” he says. “We set up storage bins for holding these scraps, labeling their dates and what they can be used for. For example, we use leftover cake tops for picnic cakes (a version of whoopie pies).”  

“Labeling and dating your extras helps you keep track of them,” he advises. “At home, we try to keep leftovers separate so it’s easier to manage second opportunities. For example, if you have chicken and vegetables one night, keep the chicken separate. Maybe the next day you can use it for chicken salad. Take leftover vegetables from the same dish and make soup, or dress them with a vinegarette and toss with some fresh salad greens.”

3. Celebrate green. Cupcakes are very popular treats at all types of festive gatherings–even environmentally-friendly wedding receptions. Watch out for cupcake wrappers that contain bleach or artificial dyes. Eco-savvy alternatives are cupcake wrappers made from recycled linen and printed with soy inks. For your green celebrations use disposable tableware made from organic bambu, 100 percent recycled paper or corn plastic.  

4. Eschew plastic food bags. Eco-friendly choices are reusable, washable snack and sandwich bags. Keep your produce fresher longer in the fridge with reusable, washable large storage bags. You’ll save money by not wasting fresh fruits and vegetables, and you won’t contribute non-biodegradable plastic bags to landfills.  

For more exciting zero-waste tips, be sure to read “Zero-Waste Kitchen.”

  • Published on Apr 2, 2012
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