Happy Earth Day 2016: It’s Time to Resolve to Eliminate Food Waste
Every year, April 22nd marks the celebration of “Earth Day.” According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the very first Earth Day took place in 1970 with 22 million Americans commemorating clean air, land and water. This year, the EPA has identified “Food Recovery” as its theme bringing attention to reducing food loss and waste. Astonishingly, in the United States, the “EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash, about 21 percent of the waste stream. Reducing food waste will help the United States address climate change, as 25.7 percent of total U.S. methane emissions come from landfills.” In an effort to address this issue and attain measurable results, the EPA joined with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - in alignment of Target 12.3 of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals — to announce the first ever domestic goal to reduce food loss and waste by half by the year 2030.
Reducing food waste is much easier said than done, but through education individuals can begin to take daily steps to help achieve this goal. Here are some ways that you can help:
- Meal Planning - Buy only what you need and will use. Think about how many meals you will eat at home or at a restaurant this week. Be sure to include quantities so you do not overbuy needed ingredients.
- Food Storage - Store fruits and vegetables so they stay fresh longer both inside and outside of your refrigerator. Different fresh foods have unique storage requirements to make them last longer so it’s time to learn what goes where. Be sure and store fruits and vegetables in separate bins, fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other produce spoil faster. Another fresh tip, don’t wash your berries until you are ready to eat them. This prevents mold from growing on the berries.
- Food Preparation - When you get home from the store, prepare you foods for easy cooking and snacking. For example, dice tomatoes, slice zucchini, and place in clear storage containers so they are easily accessible. Freeze fruits or meats that you know you won’t eat before they spoil. Another fresh tip, cut your time in the kitchen, and eliminate food waste, by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.
For more ideas about how you can assist in the solution to reduce food waste, visit: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home.
The EPA also provides the “Food: Too Good to Waste” Toolkit with an implementation guide for local government and community organizations. There is an entire social marketing kit readily available that leaders and educators can utilize immediately to bring greater awareness to your community. To download the tool kit, follow: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-too-good-waste-implementation-guide-and-toolkit.
So…what will your Earth Day 2016 resolution be?