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10 Tips to Reduce Food Waste

ways to reduce food waste

“There are nearly one billion malnourished people in the world, but the approximately 40 million tones of food wasted by US households, retailers and food services each year would be enough to satisfy the hunger of every one of them.” Bet you didn't know that!

That is a staggering amount of food being wasted yearly. It makes me sick to my stomach to think of all the perfectly good food sitting in a landfill or that has already been incinerated.  I personally hate to waste food, but do you know what I hate to waste even more? Water: 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; approximately one in eight people. Let’s save that topic for another day.

Think about it? We throw good food in the garbage or let it go down the drain literally. It makes me sad and angry. Who do we think we are? We take it for granted all the food we have access to while others go without.

Food waste is more than 14 percent of the total municipal solid waste stream. Less than three percent of the 34 million tons of food waste generated in 2009 was recovered and recycled. The rest —33 million tons— was thrown away. Food waste now represents the single largest component of municipal solid waste reaching landfills and incinerators.

This is not only a hunger problem, but an environmental problem. Food waste contributes to excess consumption of freshwater, and fossil fuels. It generates methane gas and CO2 emissions from sitting in a landfill decomposing, impacting global warming immensely.

Grocery stores and restaurants are big food waste culprits. They throw away perfectly edible food in the trash because one banana is bruised in the bunch, or there is one cracked egg in the carton.

With that said, have you ever thought of getting your food from the trash? Don’t laugh. Many, many people who call themselves Freegans (Free + vegan) forage in dumpsters, also known as dumpster diving, to same money on groceries, clothing, kitchenware etc. or to just live more simply. Just a thought. If you were hungry enough-would you dumpster dive?

If dumpster diving is not for you and are looking to reduce your food waste (which you should be), here are a some ways:

  1. Plan your meal in advance and use what you have before buying more food.
  2. Purchase what you need for the week, not more. Just because it is on sale doesn't mean you need to buy it if it is going to go to waste.
  3. If veggies or fruit look like they are on their last legs- juice them, make a smoothie or soup or freeze them.
  4. With the left over juice pulp from juicing, make a vegetable broth or soup or add to raw or baked breads.
  5. If you make your own nut milk, create tasty treats or nut flour with the nut pulp.
  6. Make broth with left over carcasses from poultry.
  7. Use left over bread to make croutons.
  8. Be creative with your leftovers – a little bit of food can go a long way.
  9. Feed your food scraps to your pets or give them to a local farm where they will be fed to their chickens or pigs (not recommended to feed livestock meat)
  10. Compost, compost, compost!

I think we need to start being accountable for the food we so recklessly dispose of without a second though. Next time your carrots are getting a little soft-make a soup, juice them and think of all the people in the world that would do anything to eat that flimsy carrot!

ways to reduce food waste

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Reader Interactions


  1. Lori Popkewitz Alper says

    I have heard and read a lot about dumpster divers. I am very intrigued by their lifestyle, but couldn’t imagine adopting it myself. Your tips for wasting less food are fabulous. I am in the market for a good juicer. We also try to teach our kids to only take what they can eat. Composting is such a great way to reduce waste and use food to grow more food!

    • Good Girl Gone Green says

      I am not sure about dumpster diving. I get the concept and think it is a great way to divert food from a landfill……

      And thanks for the kind words! Sent you an email about different juicers to checkout 🙂

  2. Stephanie says

    WOW. I knew that this was a problem — just from personal experience, but OH MY! Those stats are a little scary.

    I love the list of hints to cut down on food waste. I’ve implemented a few of them and they have helped A LOT. I’ll have to try a few more! 🙂

    As always – thanks for the great information!

  3. Sarah says

    Global hunger is such a tragic phenomena because of the fact that there is more than enough food on the planet to feed the population. I hate when food is thrown out when there are people literally starving around the world. If I was in a bad enough situation I would totally dumpster dive if it meant feeding my family. i don’t look down at these resourceful people at all. Any one of us could end up in a situation like that.

    • Good Girl Gone Green says

      It make me mad the amount of food that ia waste daily! The thing is many people who dumpster dive have money to afford food, they choose to do this. I do not look down on people that dumposter dive at all. I admire them, because I ma not sure I could do it!

  4. Kathy says

    I know huh? its not over population, or under production that is our planet’s problem but gluttony waste and red tape. I am always amazed at people filling their fridge with no plan of meals..that can only result in spoiled food. And how hard it is to get food to or from a food bank, its all so sad and seems so insurmountable. I am NOT above dumpster diving.

    Found you through Blog hop Thursday and am now following 🙂

    • Good Girl Gone Green says

      I am not above dumpster diving either! It is crazy the amont of waste one person creates daily! People buy things just because they are on sale and do not even use it and it ends up in a landfill. I buy what I need, I get a CSA basket every 2 weeks and use it all up. I have to be creative sometimes to make sure it all gets used!

  5. Free Range Mama says

    Glad you are onto food waste too. I just did a series on food waste and another movie called Taste the Waste also demonstrates the senseless waste of food. You can check it out on you tube or on my post http://myhealthygreenfamily.blogspot.com/2011/10/wasted-primer.html.

    Food waste in the landfills turns to methane gas, a terrible greenhouse gas. We need to change the way businesses are handling extra food, so we can produce only what is needed.

    Thanks for the good article.

  6. erinq says

    I will surely watch this film. I have dumpster dived and I still would if I lived in a city! my small town doesn’t have dumpsters… It is illegal and probably because the store operators are afraid of getting sued. Major grocery stores have huge locked dumpsters that you can not get into. I am not so much into diving for food these days, but I am huge on walking down the back alleys to see what kind of treasures people are getting rid of! I got a brand new awesome printer a couple months ago… and all kinds of things!

    I also juice and waste nothing. old bananas are cut up to freeze for smoothies.. everything else goes into my compost which makes the best fertilizer in the world!!

  7. Jen says

    Wow, interesting! I’ve heard a lot about this but don’t think we could do it where we live. We do dumpster dive for coupon inserts and newspaper ads. But that’s all…for now! 😉

    Stopping over from the TAFBH and following you. Did you change your website look, recently? I like it! Feel free to stop over and follow us back!

    Happy Hunting! ~ Jen

  8. Emily @ Random Recycling says

    I learned about this from the book Farm City. The author did this outside some 5 star restaurants. Crazy what they end up throwing away. Hopefully more restaurants will move towards having their own compost system someday.

  9. Lisa @Granola Catholic says

    Soup is my secret weapon in wasting less food. Less than perfect veggie or random bits of leftovers are frozen for later use in a soup. In fact tomorrow I will be making a very nice pureed roasted vegetable soup and some broth.

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