Fill your stomach not the landfill: a guide to avoiding food waste
Living off campus can be lonely, especially when preparing meals for one reminds you of your solitude. Despite the benefit of not having to share meals, cooking for one can be difficult, with unavoidable bulk purchasing resulting in plenty of food waste, especially with the short shelf life of produce.
While a large portion of food waste comes from supermarkets and grocery stores, the average consumer in the U.S. wastes around a pound of food per day. Even on the individual level, avoiding food waste can make a difference. Here are a few ways to limit your ecological footprint while adhering to a budget.
If you’re someone who makes your own smoothies in the morning, you know the struggle of both keeping track of your produce and having time and energy to wake up and make them. By allotting time earlier in the week to cut and freeze fruits and vegetables for smoothies, or even freeze other prepared meals for the week, you gain a few minutes of sleep each day and avoid the possibility of spoiled fruits and vegetables.
Keep track of YOUR food
With roommates, everyone stores their food in the same place. When the fridge becomes cluttered, it’s hard to keep track of what’s yours and, therefore, expiration dates. Make sure to keep your fridge organized so nothing disappears in the back. Different colored duct tape is an easy way to mark and spot your own food.
Buy in bulk CAUTIOUSLY
Reduced prices make it tempting to buy produce in bulk, but when considering which foods to buy this way, make sure to think about whether or not you’ll be able to consume everything before it all goes bad. If you don’t think you’ll eat a whole bunch of bananas in time, you can split them apart at the grocery store before purchase or split the price (and bunch of bananas) among friends.
Share with roommates
There’s nothing worse than throwing away old food, especially if there’s a chance that a roommate or friend would eat it. Before throwing anything away, offer it to a friend. This seems like a simple solution, but it’s easy to forget your friends when the semester gets busy. Who knows, maybe they’ve been eyeing those bananas all week anyway.
If you live in a house off campus, it’s super simple to purchase or create a compost bin to start your very own compost pile. With the fresh, fertilized soil you create, you can plant a few herbs or feed it to your desk plant.
Buy ugly food
On the corporate level, grocery stores throw out a large portion of food because it doesn’t fit a standard look and, therefore, doesn’t get purchased. Opt for produce that may be unappealing to most shoppers (lumpier potatoes and odd-shaped apples) to avoid unnecessary waste.
Steps to sustainability only require a bit of thought in weekly food purchases and consumption. By being cautious of how much you’re purchasing and actually wasting, minimal changes in grocery habits can lead to major impacts on food waste.