Each year, tons of food is thrown out before it’s eaten. (Literally, tons.) This waste becomes a bigger problem every year, with an increase of almost 60 million tons between 1990 and 2015. With the amount of food we throw out in our homes, restaurants, and stores each day, how can we fight back against food waste in America?
We’ve gathered up some facts and figures to give you all the info you need on food waste, and how you can do your part to help cut down on waste.
The U.S. Accumulates Tons of Wasted Food Each Year
The EPA has been collecting data on food waste in residential and commercial areas for years. They’ve compiled this data into a table that details the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) between 1960 and 2015.
This shows the massive amounts of MSW that are being created throughout the last 55 years. According to the EPA, it’s an estimated 39.7 million tons in 2015.
Food Waste Affects the Environment
In addition to the table above, the EPA also created a graph that shows how all of this food waste is managed.
As you can see, as food waste increases, there’s little effort to manage it in a way that helps the environment. Most of it is put into landfills.
Because the nutrients from this food can’t be reabsorbed into the soil, it rots in the landfill and produces harmful gas. Let’s not forget the huge numbers of plastic containers and bags from food products that end up in landfills and oceans. All of this waste takes a toll on environmental resources, just like the water, land, and fertilizers that are used to grow our food.
Wasted Food Costs Money
When consumers in the United States throw out food without using it, we’re also throwing out money. Not just from our own pockets, but supermarkets and food producers also generate large amounts of waste as well. By 2010, the USDA calculated that American food waste costs about $160 billion in a single year.
The cost of food waste is not just attributed to the food you bought and forgot to eat. Don’t forget that in many cities across the U.S., residents pay for trash pickup by volume or weight. The more food that is thrown away, the higher the cost of your trash bill!
How You Can Help
You might be wondering: what you can do to manage your own waste? Thankfully, there are lots of organizations working to spread information and end food waste. We’re proud to be a part of that group! Here are some ways that you can cut down on your food waste, help yourself, and help the environment.
Composting is a great way to help reduce waste and help the environment. When you decide to compost at home or send your unused food to be composted, you’re keeping that food out of the landfill. Composted food allows the nutrients to return to the soil, making it healthier and in turn helping other plants grow.
2. Donate Food
If you can’t eat all of the food that you have at home, donate it! There are plenty of organizations that are looking for donations to help feed those in need.
3. Shop Responsibly
We know the feeling of going into the grocery store and just loading up on everything that catches our eyes. But the problem is what happens to that food when we get it home and realize we don’t really want it. You can help cut down on food waste by planning out meals, making a list with those ingredients, and only buying specific ingredients at the store. It takes a little patience, but once you get into the swing of it, shopping responsibly can help save you time, money, and waste.
4. Buy Ugly Foods
Did you know that lots of food is thrown away by supermarkets because it’s “ugly”? It may sound crazy, but consumers are less likely to buy food products, especially fruits and vegetables if they don’t look attractive. That doesn’t have to be you, though! Jump on the “ugly” food movement, and enjoy fruits and vegetables that are just as nutritious, if slightly different looking.
5. Check the Packaging
When you’re not sure what to buy, take a look at the packaging! Some food brands have started using recyclable packaging (like us!), that helps cut down on the plastic packaging in landfills and other parts of the environment. You can also check to see if the food is non-GMO verified (also like us!). Non-GMO foods are grown responsibly, without the use of chemical herbicides and insecticides that damage soil and water.
6. Buy Frozen
One of the easiest ways that you can reduce food waste is to buy frozen foods! Frozen foods have a longer shelf life, which means that they can be kept almost indefinitely without going bad. This takes the pressure off of you to prepare them immediately since you can wait until tomorrow or next month – even next year in many cases, to include them in your meals. Frozen vegetables are super tasty and good for you, without the race against the clock.
Tommy’s and Reducing Food Waste
We pride ourselves on providing tasty and healthy vegetables that are good for you, and the planet! With Earth Day fast approaching this month, we’re feeling the love even more. Not only are we cutting down on waste with our flash-frozen vegetables and recyclable packaging, but we’re working with farmers that are committed to reducing waste in their farming practices. Many of our farmers even power their tractors and other machinery with biodiesel, which is created from leftover food/field scraps.
So, are you ready to fight back against food waste? Leave us a comment and let us know!