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How to Reduce Food Waste

Save Money and Protect the Environment

Do you enjoy eating? I love eating, sharing recipes, and tasting new flavors, but I hate food waste. Food waste affects the environment more than we think.

Did you know, in the U.S., we waste an average of 30 - 40% of the food we produce?

Keep in mind, one of every six Americans does not have enough food to eat. According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), food waste is responsible for 8% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, from production, packaging, shipping, and food rotting in landfills.

Food waste also costs the average American family of four about $1,500 per year.

By becoming more mindful of and more efficient in how we consume our food, we can have better control of its production, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save money.

Here are 10 tips to help you reduce food waste:

#1 Buy only what you need.

  • Plan your meals for the next week (including leftover nights and takeout).

  • Check your fridge and pantry before going to the store so you only get what you need.

  • While you shop, avoid impulse buying. Start shopping first for fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, and meat so you spend less time in “unnecessary item” aisles.

#2 Go for the perfectly imperfect.

  • “Ugly” produce does not mean rotten or damaged. Forget about cosmetic standards, an imperfect vegetable does not make a difference chopped up in a casserole.

  • Don't forget to pick up the "lonely veggie" (bananas, tomatoes), they might be throw away.

#3 Store food properly.

  • Check the temperature of your fridge (40 degrees is recommended).

  • Create an “eat me first” shelf or basket with more perishable food upfront.

  • Take care of fresh produce right away.

  • Chopping and storing your veggies properly will save you time during the busy week.

  • Keep carrots and celery in water.

  • Don’t keep tomatoes, pears, potatoes, or avocados in the fridge.

  • Store bread in a cotton bag or reuse a pillowcase.

  • Store your grains properly in sealed reusable containers (they will last longer).

#4 Cook the roots, stew the scraps.

  • Cauliflowers leaves, beetroots, and carrot stalks and leaves can be cooked.

  • Peel broccoli stems to add to soups.

  • Make broth, stock, and chutney with vegetable scraps and meat bones.

  • Turn overripe fruits into jellies and apple sauce.

#5 Revive your greens, regrow from scratch.

  • Save tomato, pumpkin, eggplant, and red pepper seeds for next spring’s garden. (See DIY below)

  • Regrow lettuce, carrots, celery, and potatoes in water.

  • Revive “tired” lettuce in an icy bath.

#6 Be creative.

  • Cut quiche and pizza leftovers in pieces for a happy hour snack.

  • Dry fresh herbs or chop and freeze them in an ice cube tray with olive oil.

  • Enjoy fresh produce into the winter by canning or pickling your harvest.

  • Roast forgotten veggies with garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper, then store them in a jar with olive oil.

  • Turn stale bread into garlic croutons or bread pudding.

#7 Manage the excess.

  • Freeze it. Learn more about what to keep, how long, and where using the FoodKeeper app.

  • Share it with friends and neighbors. Think of edible gifts for the holidays.

  • Donate it to a local organization.

#8 Compost!

Food that rots in landfills releases methane into the atmosphere, one of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. We can reduce this gas emission by simply using our “green” bin if ( your city does curbside) and compost at home.

#9 Learn how to read the labels.

Did you know the expiration dates are not regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration?

  • Use the “best by” label on foods to determine their peak window of freshness.

  • The “use by” date is a suggestion of when the item might start to go bad.

  • Trust your sense of smell, too!

#10 Vote.

When you shop at the market or the grocery store, make "green" decisions, you "vote" by rethinking your way of consuming, and by buying such-and-such items, you approve the who and the how.

Regrow a tomato plant - DIY

(to do in Spring)

  • Save a slice of organic tomato

  • Cover it with soil

  • Replant the "mini tomato plant" in a bigger container.

  • Keep it in the house, by a window

  • Replant the "mini tomato plant" in a bigger container, then a bigger one when your plant has grown enough

“This story was first published in Issaquah Highlands’ Connections news, November 2020”


Hi, I am Aline.

Cardboard Designer & Eco-lifestyle Coach

Creative and eco-minded French-native mom of 3, you can find me sipping a cup of tea, eating French pastries, hiking around with my border collie, designing a new piece of art or advocating for a greener lifestyle. Everywhere I go, I always have some dust of joy and creativity in my back pocket.


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