Earth Day 2016: Sustainable Steps to Reduce Food Waste


Earth Day 2016: Sustainable Steps to Reduce Food Waste

13, April 2016 8:00 AM

sustainability comes in many forms In honor of Earth Day on April 22, many people start looking for ways to “go green” and become more sustainable. To shrink your carbon footprint and care for the environment, your first step should be to reduce food waste. 

According to USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist, nearly half (30-40%) of our food supply goes to waste. “Not Really Expired," a short film by The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) highlights how arbitrary laws around “sell-by” dates contribute to our food waste problem at the retail level. As a Dairy Council of CA dietitian and mom, I feel sad that this amount of nutritious food is wasted when so many children go hungry in this country every day.

Hopefully now, with education efforts like Not Really Expired, more consumers know that most food, including milk, is safe well after the sell-by date. Understanding these dates and learning how to properly store or refrigerate perishable foods like milk and cheese are simple strategies to reduce food waste at home that may even save you money.  

store food properly to reduce food waste Additionally, planning balanced meals with food from all five food groups, using a grocery list and keeping in mind recipes that use up leftovers are all cost-neutral, sustainable steps that help reduce food waste and stretch your food budget.

Here are some of my favorite tips to reduce food waste:
  • When cleaning up after supper, I put leftover foods into individual food storage containers for family members to pack for lunch the following day
  • Use leftover meats and vegetables by adding them into stir fry, salads or burritos
  • Freeze vegetable scraps (potato peels, onion skins, broccoli stems) and make homemade stock
  • Blend soft, nearly overripe fruit with yogurt and ice in a smoothie
  • Turn stale (but not moldy) bread, tortillas or crackers into breadcrumbs
Check out these additional tips on making sustainable food choices to reduce food waste at home this Earth Day. 

One caution: don't fall into the trap of eating food that you are not hungry for just to prevent food waste. If you can't eat food before it goes bad, compost it rather than adding it to the landfill or overeating.

What are your favorite ways to reduce food waste? Share your tips in the comments.

Maureen Bligh, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist


Tags: Healthy eating milk reduce food waste sustainability

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