Waste Not, Want Not…

Ayla Dunn Bieber kicks of this year’s Sustainability Scoop series by diving in to the topic of food waste…

For me, September brings a sharpened focus that rides in with the crisp autumn air.

Our out-breath of summer has begun to shift and we can commit (or re-commit) to what we would like to incorporate into our new year-round schedules. It’s a great time to make a New-Year’s resolution; and what better subject to choose than sustainability? I hope you’re with me!

If you are just joining us, last year’s cycle of The Sustainability Scoop focused on my family’s efforts to reduce our physical trash waste, honing in on plastic and excess packaging (you can read more here).

This year, The Sustainability Scoop widens its scope and will look at other areas in which much work is needed to continue our efforts toward sustainability.  Our theme for our September and October posts will be on Food Waste.

Did you know:

  • “The US Department of Agriculture estimates that 30 – 40 percent of our country’s food supply ends up as food waste. With the USDA estimating that one in six Americans lacks a secure supply of food on their table, this is especially concerning.”1
  • “Recent studies have found that between 20 – 25 percent of disposed trash is food waste. When food waste is buried in landfills, it decomposes and generates methane gas, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. These sites are the third largest source of methane in the US.”1

When I read these statistics I took a huge gulp and felt very unsettled. Up until recently, I was one of the many people who think, ‘Oh, what’s a little food mixed in with the garbage? It will help the rest of the trash break down.’ This statement is NOT TRUE, folks! In addition to the harmful methane gas produced by decomposing food waste in landfills, there is also an incredibly large sustainability issue with the amount of energy it takes to produce the food in the first place, which is then lost. The solution to this dire problem then seems twofold: reducing the amount of food waste we produce by being more conscious of the amount we purchase and about using the food we buy, while also diverting the food we do not consume away from landfills and into composting systems where some of its energy and nutrients are able to be recaptured.

Helpful Tips:

  • Label your food when you put it in the fridge! I, for one, am overly cautious about how long something has been in the fridge. If there is any question as to whether something has gone bad, I air on the side of ‘safety’ and compost it. This, paired with that fact that I always think I will remember what date I cooked something on and then never can, is a recipe for FOOD WASTE. I have thought of putting a piece of tape on containers of leftovers and writing the day they were cooked on it, but haven’t done it as that tape feels wasteful too! A new idea that came to me this morning was to use the whiteboard I already have on my fridge to keep track of the date I put food in (specifically for leftovers and things of that nature). For things like milk, just take a sharpie and write the date you opened it right on it.
  • Here is a link to a great article of reducing food waste at home!

What tricks/tips do you have to REDUCE food waste? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

In our next issue we’ll talk about why rotting food in a properly aerated compost does not produce methane gas, and where to compost if you don’t have space to make your own. Stay tuned!

1: Edible Jersey Fall 2018, Edition Number 58. If you have a copy, read page 14 or click here to get informed about what all NJ schools are doing to reduce food waste within the school system. It is really inspiring!

Sustainably yours,
Ayla

2 replies
  1. Rob Gilson
    Rob Gilson says:

    I love this! Lynne also discovered that you can use a Sharpie on a plastic carry-out container and that you can wash/wipe the writing off pretty easily when the time comes. Turns out it’s not so permanent on those containers!

    Reply

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