by Victoria Simpson
Throwing out that yogurt? We all do it. Sometimes it’s time to purge the fridge and clean everything out. Expiry dates were put on packages for a reason, and most people toss out anything that’s ready to pass its date or already has.
But have you ever looked at just HOW much we throw out? It can make you pause.
According to a report by the United Nations Environment Program, consumers in industrialized countries waste almost as much food as the ENTIRE net food production of sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa produces 230 million tons each year, and we waste about 222 million tons of food.
It all adds up to about one-third of all food produced worldwide never being eaten, and about $1 trillion US going into landfill.
When you think about it, that can seem like a lot of wasted energy. Most of all, looking at food on a personal level, a considerable amount of five-dollar bills fall straight out of our wallets and float away to Forever-Land when we don’t eat it.
So, what to do? Without pulling your hair out, here are 5 ways you can help curtail the donut drain, keep your hard-earned money in your wallet, and help save the world all in one go:
1) MAKE A LIST
World Food Day USA.org advises that those of us walking around town should think. It goes on to say that making a list helps in that department. The Out of Milk Shopping List app gets 4.5 stars from over 100, 000 people on Google Play and it’s great at helping grocery shoppers keep an on-going record of what’s needed to fill out the cupboards at home.
Google Play says, “With Out of Milk, your Shopping List stays with you everywhere you go…”. Meal Planning apps can help, too.
2) BRING YOUR LEFTOVERS HOME
You enjoyed your meal, but it was much too big. Don’t let the restaurant throw out all that great goodness!
By taking the leftovers home, you can rest assured they won’t be taking up space in the landfill, and you’ll get to have Pad Thai for breakfast: win-win. AND, you’ll get your money’s worth. Win-win-win.
3) QUESTION SOME EXPIRY DATES
Some expiry dates are good to hold true to, like the ‘cook by’ label on your fresh chicken. Others have some leeway, and sometimes more than you’d think. Some sources say milk can often be ok to consume up to a week past its ‘sell by’ date, and eggs can last for up to 5 weeks after you buy them. Of course, you want to play it safe, but you might want to think twice before throwing out those apples that have been sitting around.
4) REVIEW THE FRIDGE
Do you have five packages of ‘fresh’ tortellini sitting behind the milk in your fridge? I have four packages of cod sitting in my freezer and we only eat fish about once a month in our house. Reviewing what you’ve actually got hidden and chillin’ every week can really help conserve waste and avoid buying doubles. This goes along with keeping a list for shopping, and can save you time and money while helping you get some creative meals on the table.
5) ROTATE THE FREEZER
Like I said, I have four packages of cod sitting in my freezer. Looks like I could have done some rotating! The freezer is a great place for losing last year’s lasagna, and by checking what you have every few weeks you can make sure to use things up. iTunes has an app to help called What’s In My Freezer.
Saving food and preventing waste is something we can get better at with time, proven by the Danes, who, according to NPR might be leading the world by wasting 25% less food than they did five years ago.
Bring on the leftovers and day-old bread!