10 Ways to Reduce Food Waste


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Food is energy. From farm to store to table, food production requires significant resources and energy use; the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that “getting food to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States.” In financial terms, Americans are throwing away $165 billion in food each year, which equates to about $1,350 to $2,275 for a family of four.

Although much of the waste happens on the production side, there’s a lot we can do to reduce food waste in our homes. Start by checking out these 10 tips on how to reduce food waste at home.

food in refrigerator

Reduce Food Waste at Home

1. Watch what you throw away. Before you start thinking about how to waste less food, first you need to figure out where you waste food. For one week keep track of everything you throw away. (It might be handy to keep a notebook nearby, or maybe a dry erase board or chalkboard on the fridge.) Look for patterns and evaluate how you can change your habits to waste less food.

2. Buy local. Most grocery store produce was grown and harvested far away and has traveled days (sometimes weeks!) to reach you—all of which means it will spoil sooner. Locally grown food has less distance to travel, meaning you have more time with the food before it will start to spoil. (For more benefits on buying local food, check out the article The Benefits of Eating Locally Grown, Seasonal Food.)

3. Hit up the bulk aisle. The beauty of buying in bulk is that you can take only as much as you need. So the next time a recipe calls for specialty flour, consider scooping out only what you need from the bulk department instead of buying an entire bag and letting the rest go rancid in your cupboard. The same goes for buying meat. Instead of buying prepackaged meat, order exactly what you need from the deli counter or butcher.

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