Six Practical Ways to Reduce Food Waste and Fight Climate Change

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Featured Image: Change for Climate, 2018

We often feel guilty about wasting food but in this busy world, it seems almost impossible to reduce food waste. That being said, food and other organic waste, such as yard waste, non-hazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper, dumped at landfills generate 20% of total methane emissions. Methane gas is one of the greenhouse gasses which is more harmful to the planet. It increases the global surface temperature by 80 times more than carbon dioxide emissions. According to a study conducted by Second Harvest, 32% of food waste disposed of in landfills is entirely avoidable. Yes! You read that right! Managing food waste is essential to make a change on the planet. In this article, you will find practical and easy-to-follow tips to implement in your house and be the change from today.

1) Plan your meals

Spending some time on a lazy Sunday afternoon to plan your meals for the week will go a long way to reducing food waste at your house and also helps you stay on your budget by stopping you from overspending at your grocery store. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)Food Waste Hierarchy, reducing the waste from the source is the most effective way to manage food waste, and it starts from a personal level. Planning your meals will also help you cook in appropriate portions and stop you from throwing out food.

2) Store your food properly

Improper storage of food can cause the food to spoil and contribute to food spoilage and disposal in a landfill. Storing food according to the type of food is essential to minimize food waste. The temperature of 4-6°c will prevent food from spoiling quickly. You should always read the instructions to store food appropriately. If the food label says, Refrigerate – the temperature for storage is 0-4°c; if it says, Frozen- the temperature for storage is -18°c. Organize your leftovers at your eye level in the fridge, so you can use them sooner and avoid them getting moldy in your fridge.

3) Share excess

According to the Canadian Income Survey, 5.8 million Canadians lived in food-insecure households in 2021. Despite this, Canada wastes a value of $49 billion on food waste which is adequate to feed every Canadian for five months. When someone shares food, we feel loved and cared for. Community kitchens can reduce work and waste while strengthening bonds. Other solutions, such as connecting with food rescue organizations work effectively as community kitchens. Organizations such as Second Harvest and Zero Food Waste foundation redirect the surplus foods from landfills to the needy. Most of these organizations have mobile apps where you can effortlessly donate and make a change.

4) Get creative with leftovers

You can get creative with your leftovers to avoid dumping them in the trash. You can try new recipes with your leftovers to transform them and get approval from your taste buds. Rice is one of the cereals that gets wasted more, but rice is the most versatile ingredient, and you can make many recipes, such as stir fry, casseroles, and soups from leftover rice.

5) Take advantage of Best Before Dates

Most people confuse Best Before dates with expiration dates which can contribute to food waste that can be avoidable. The expiration date means that the food products are no longer eligible for consumption, whereas the best-before date only denotes the quality, and the product may be suitable for consumption even after the best-before date. One can use their senses, such as inspecting the food visually and smelling can help minimize food waste.

6) Start Composting

Most provinces in Canada have green bin collection programs to collect organic waste and transform the waste into energy with the help of anaerobic digesters that break down the waste to biogas and digester solids which are rich in nutrients; However, Numerous Places in Canada don’t have green bin collection program that facilitates food waste getting dumped off in the landfills. You can start composting efficiently with the help of backyard composters in your backyard which will enhance your soil health and offer organic produce without harmful pesticides, thereby reducing food waste in landfill and greenhouse emissions.

Although there are efficient ways to manage food waste, reducing the food waste generation from the source is essential for a waste-free world.

References

BC Cook Articulation Committee. (2015). Chapter 6: Storage Temperature and Procedures. https://opentextbc.ca/foodsafety/chapter/storage-temperatures-and-procedures/

CalMatters. (October 27, 2021). Why we must turn food waste into a renewable fuel. https://calmatters.org/commentary/2021/10/why-we-must-turn-food-waste-into-a-renewable-fuel/

Dojchinovska, A. (February 24, 2023). 20 Astonishing Canada Food Waste Statistics [Infographic]. Reviewlution. https://reviewlution.ca/resources/food-waste-statistics

Environmental Defense Fund. (2023). Methane: A crucial opportunity in the climate fight. https://www.edf.org/climate/methane-crucial-opportunity-climate-fight

Second Harvest. (2018). The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste: The Roadmap [PDF]. https://www.secondharvest.ca/getmedia/73121ee2-5693-40ec-b6cc-dba6ac9c6756/The-Avoidable-Crisis-of-Food-Waste-Roadmap.pdf

About Post Author

Yazhini Srinivasan

Yazhini Srinivasan is an International Student at Fleming College. She is currently doing her Post Graduate Certification in Sustainable Waste Management after completing her Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering. She is highly passionate about waste diversion methodologies and finding solutions to climate change.
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