Food Waste Reduction

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that around 20 percent of all the municipal waste buried in landfills is food waste!  More than 400 pounds of food waste is generated per person each year.  All this wasted food harms the environment and costs the average household about $1800 a year.

To learn about what it takes to get food from the farm to the grocery store watch this Save the Food/AD Council video about The Extraordinary Life and Times of Strawberry 


Food Waste Prevention Tips

Shop Smart

Buy only what you need, especially fresh produce and other foods with limited shelf life. Select loose vegetables from the produce section instead of prepackaged, pre-chopped vegetables to save money, packaging, and ensure use of all of your purchase. Buying in bulk can save money but also create more waste than expected.

Preparing meals for the week can help cut down on impulse purchases that usually end up spoiling in the back of the fridge. Additionally, you can plan meals that utilize leftovers of other meals or plan around food currently in your fridge or counter that needs to be consumed soon.

Check out the Broome County Regional Farmers Market for fresh local produce every Saturday 9:00am-1:00pm. 

Store Properly

You can keep food fresh longer if you store it properly. Visit Eureka! Recycling’s A-Z Food Storage Guide for great food storage tips.

Proper storage is not only important to your bottom line, but also has environmental impacts. Growing, transporting, and storing food requires great amounts of fossil fuel energy to get to your local grocery store. By letting food go to waste, you are also wasting all of the energy inputs in creating that food.

Can, preserve, and freeze fruits and vegetables that are in season to enjoy them all year long. A full freezer is an efficient freezer.

Organize the Refrigerator

Taking a few minutes each day to keep your refrigerator organized helps reduce food waste. Check the expiration dates, label leftovers, and consider freezing foods for later use. 

Organize your refrigerator by the first-in first-out method. Whatever foods you put in first should be used before newer foods to ensure they are consumed instead of turning into science experiments in the back of the fridge. One good way to implement this strategy is to make an “eat first” box in your fridge. Place older foods in this box and plan your meals around those ingredients or dishes.

Some foods fair best in certain locations within the fridge because of different temperatures. In general, fruits and vegetables should be stored in the crisper drawers; eggs, dairy, and meats belong on the lower shelf; leftovers and good to eat foods should be on the upper shelves; juices and condiments can be stored in the door.

Use it before you loose it

Utilize food that past its prime but still edible.  Check out these tips and recipes at Save the Food

Make sure to compost any food that could not be used. Visit our Composting page for resources that will help you learn how to compost food scraps at home.

Contact

Kevin Mathers
Environment, Natural Resources Educator
kjm8@cornell.edu
(607) 584-5013

Last updated January 25, 2018