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Five Things You Can Do To Reduce Wasted Food

These small changes can have a big impact on the environment.

A few bad strawberries here, some week-old leftovers there — cleaning out your refrigerator might not feel like a climate emergency, but food waste (or wasted food, as we prefer to think of it) is a much bigger problem than most people realize.

One third of all food produced is wasted. Left to rot in a landfill, wasted food contributes 8-10% of our skyrocketing global greenhouse gas emissions. Alarmed? Here are five things you can do to reduce wasted food at home.

1. Shop smart

Reducing your waste at home starts with how you shop.

  • Go armed with a plan. Shopping for specific meals will reduce the amount of impulse purchases you make.
  • Think twice about bulk-buy savings. Remember, that 5-pack of bell peppers is only a good deal if you’re going to use them all.
  • Shop more often, if possible. Shopping more often with a shorter list means you get to enjoy your food while it’s at its freshest, and you’re less likely to forget those strawberries in the back of the fridge.

2. Store food properly

Food storage may seem straightforward, but are you sure you’re doing it right? Follow these tips to extend your food’s life.

  • Make sure your refrigerator is set to 40°F or lower.
  • Use your high-humidity drawer for veggies and your low humidity drawer for fruits.
  • To prevent mold, don’t wash your berries until it’s time to eat them.
  • A full fruit basket looks nice on Instagram, but remember that some fruits and vegetables don’t get along.
    • Bananas, apples, pears and stone fruits can make nearby items ripen too fast.
    • Onions and potatoes prefer to be kept apart from one another in a cool, dry place.

3. Understand “best-by” dates

We may think we know what the dates on food packaging mean, but do we?

4. Compost

Even with the best efforts to reduce wasted food at home, you’re still likely to have peels and scraps to deal with.

  • Composting scraps instead of discarding them can significantly reduce methane emissions, according to the EPA.
  • If you have a home garden, composting is a great way to feed essential nutrients back into the soil. Your home composting program can be a miniature circular economy right in your back yard.
  • If composting sounds intimidating, here’s a great guide from NPR’s Life Kit to get you started.
  • Always be sure to remove produce stickers before composting to keep microplastics out of your soil.

5. Support fellow wasted food fighters

For national retailers, taking meaningful steps to curb wasted food is costly and resource intensive. We congratulate Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons, CVS, Kroger, Safeway, Save Mart and Target for embracing the wasted food fight as a moral and environmental imperative. Through collaboration with these customers, Divert has turned would-be wasted food into 11 million pounds of donated food, and offset 900 million pounds of carbon emissions annually. Here are some things you can do to keep this movement going.

  • Shop with retailers who are doing their part to end wasted food
  • Thank your local store manager, or reach out on social media to let them know their efforts matter to you.
  • If your favorite stores aren’t diverting their wasted food, ask them to.

Individual efforts like these may feel small in the shadow of a problem as large as global climate change, but small changes can add up to much bigger impacts. If these five tips inspired you to think about wasted food differently, share this article!

Learn More

Read about the progress Divert’s customers are making in the fight against wasted food.

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