Did you know that nearly 40 percent of food is wasted from farm to fork? Cultivating food that isn’t consumed takes a big toll on the environment: agriculture uses half of all land and 80 percent of the freshwater consumed. There is also a huge social cost to throwing away food while one in six Americans lacks food security.

For these reasons, the Green Sanctuary Committee is exploring ways to reduce food waste. If you are inspired to decrease food waste, it is great to start at home, as the average American wastes 231 pounds of food annually.

Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Inventory the Fridge Before Shopping – Many households will unknowingly purchase a perishable food item before the first one was finished.
  2. Plan Ways to Use Up Special Ingredients – Many recipes call for half a vegetable or a partial carton of cream. If you buy a specific ingredient for a recipe and have extras, make a plan for how to use up the remainder.
  3. Second Guess Expiration Dates – Although “sell by”, “use by”, and “best before” dates sound definitive, they often aren’t and can be misleading. In some cases, the dates refer to when food is freshest, not when it is safe to consume. Use your best judgment to decide if food items are safe to eat.
  4. Freeze Unused Leftovers – If you are unable to make use of leftovers in time, plan ahead and freeze whatever you think will spoil. According to the National Resources Defense Council, frozen food will remain unspoiled indefinitely.
  5. Buy Imperfect Produce – High cosmetic standards for produce increase food waste from farms. The coop, sometimes farmer’s markets, and soon Hannafords will sell produce with a lower aesthetic standard at a discount.

In honor of Earth Day, consider challenging yourself to be more sustainable by wasting less food. Make a four-week commitment to:

  • Eat all the food in your house.
  • Choose to buy imperfect produce.
  • Inventory your refrigerator and make an ongoing list of foods to eat first.

The Green Sanctuary Committee would like to hear about your experience!