If you haven’t been living under a massive rock in the year 2020, then you are probably aware the world is having a biiiiiiit of a rough time right now: with a coronavirus pandemic and a crashing stock market, things just aren’t looking so great (*lights cigarette*). Yet, sometimes things have to get severe in order for us to take a good hard look at ourselves, and what better time than now (since we’re all staying at home anyway)? 

So, let’s get serious…

We all know that food waste is still one of the top sustainability problems worldwide, not only is it a slap in the face to those who are starving but also harmful to our environment, when you consider all the shipping and manufacturing emissions involved. The United Nations environmental program states that “if food waste could be represented as its own country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, behind China and the US,” creating a massive carbon footprint of about 3.3 billion tons of CO2. Shocking, right?!

Moreover, the UN estimates global food waste at 1.3 billion tons annually (think a billion elephants), which is about $1 trillion wasted; so with these stunning figures, what can we do on an individual level to help alleviate this problem? Here are 5 simple but effective ways in which we can help make a change:

Here are 5 Easy Ways We Can Help Reduce Food Waste

  1. Buy smaller quantities. Studies have found that buying smaller quantities is actually cheaper and better for the environment. More often than not, we are unable to finish the things we buy in bulk, especially those with a shorter shelf life. Remember, ‘the most expensive ingredient is the one you throw away’!
  2. Make a list. Have a clear idea of what you need and how much of it before you shop. Shopping aimlessly often results in over-buying, and it’s also important to be realistic about the amount you need, because that’s what leads to food waste!
  3. Practice ‘FIFO’. “First in, first out” is a restaurant principle that you can use at home. When it comes to cleaning your fridge, a good habit is to constantly move your older purchases to the front so you can easily find them and use them. Taking a little time to organize your fridge is a huge step towards a waste-free life! 
  4. Learn how to store your food properly. Sometimes it’s a little more complicated than using a saran wrap. Read up on keeping your cilantro in a jar of water, not storing your onions and potatoes together, or keeping your milk and eggs away from the door of your refrigerator to greatly increase the shelf life of your perishables. Another great way is to simply freeze your foods!
  5. Think before you throw. Many of us are confused by “best by,” “use by,” and “sell by” dates, and although these are freshness suggestions from the manufacturer, it’s often believed to be ‘food safety dates’, causing us all to needlessly waste perfectly good food everyday. So, when in doubt, use a little common sense to deduce if something is still good to eat. If it looks good, smells good, and tastes good, then you’re probably good to go!
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