Strategies to Prevent Food Waste

Nov. 24, 2014

EPA challenge to increase diversion rates for the holidays.

With the Thanksgiving and winter holidays fast approaching, the EPA is turning their focus to food waste with their Food Recovery Challenge. As part of the Sustainable Materials Management Program, the challenge encourages participants to save money, help communities, and protect the environment by purchasing less, donating extra food, and composting.

With 20% of waste going to U.S. landfills consisting of food, which a recent study shows costs around $165 billion annually, the Food Recovery Challenge mentions that not only can donating or using food smarter can help others, but it can take a bite out of costs as well. Reducing your food waste can cut disposal costs, drop over-purchasing and labor costs, reduce resource use associated with food production, and improve your carbon footprint.

If you’ve been looking for an easy way to cut some fat off of your budget, take a look at these smart strategies to reduce food waste:

1) Do a food waste assessment – You won’t know how much is wasted if you don’t know how much is being used. Get the baseline information available and track it over various cycles within the year so you can see where the most waste is generated and stop it before it even begins the next time. A free tool from the EPA to help is available here.

2) Reduce over-purchasing of food – Once you have the information, act on it! Take a look at where food is being wasted and review if that food be used for another purpose. Is everything being cooked and prepared correctly? If you find practices that aren’t up to standard you can fix them before they become too ingrained in occupant practices.

3) Store responsibly – Keeping food stored correctly can be the difference between having enough to work with and having to scramble. Make sure your food inventory is properly stored and sorted so the oldest products are used first, which keeps more out of the landfill and your budget firmly under control. 

Looking for more strategies to cut down on waste? WasteWise is a tool from the EPA that can help keep money in your pocket, not running away with the garbage truck. 

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