Our food scraps are speeding up climate change, but we can stop it.
Have you ever thrown away food scraps and then your trash smells like sh*% later?
Well what you are smelling are trapped gases from food being broken down by bacteria WITHOUT oxygen, creating that nasty STANK. You know what else it created? Methane. A powerful, odorless greenhouse gas that is one of the primary drivers of today's climate crisis. Now that you know what exactly you are smelling, did you know that the U.S. throws away 40% of our food every year?! That's $162 billion dollars worth of food annually according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, meanwhile there are 13 million food insecure children in this country. There's a spicy video by John Oliver about some of the facts (and humorous opinions) behind the issue if you care to laugh and learn.
This methane our trash is producing at our landfills is 20 TIMES more heat trapping than CO2, obviously not helping in the whole "our planet is dying" situation. Globally, if food waste was a country it would be the 3rd largest greenhouse gas polluter behind the U.S. and China. We can continue to ignore the facts or we can start doing something about it. These are simple changes we can make in our daily lives that make an impact on our global footprint while we work towards a greener economy.
TAKE WHAT YOU'LL EAT. Eyes ever been bigger than your stomach? How lucky we are to be so familiar with "too much" food. I am thankful everyday for our fortune, but the sad truth is that on average we waste 20% of our food. Apparently that averages out to be about 1 pound of food per day per person in the US! So, only make what you need, only take what you'll eat, share your leftovers, freeze your leftovers and try to keep the food from going into the bin.
USE DRY BULK GOODS. Dry goods are great because they don't really expire, as long as they are kept airtight at room temperature or cooler. You can save SO much money when it comes to food waste by not buying perishable foods. By purchasing bulk goods such as rice, flour, lentils, nuts, grains, chickpeas and storing them in upcycled jars, you can stock your pantry or fridge with no stress of expiration. Once you soak or cook them you should consume within a few days, but remember, only make what you'll eat and freeze your leftovers!
CHOPPED CHALLENGE. I do this one all the time haha, if you are at the end of your groceries and have a bunch of random ingredients in your fridge, challenge yourself to create a bomb meal using any ingredients you can find in your house. I've had pretty slim pickins' before but was still able to get creative, dig through my pantry (which usually had items I had forgotten about) and whip up something yum! Also, this can be where those frozen leftovers come into play, just in case your chopped challenge fails lol (they can't all be winners).
COMPOST. I love composting. If you have your own yard or deck space, there really isn't a reason you can't start a compost. I barely keep track of my garden these days but the compost bin still makes my life so easy and breaks my food down naturally for me. Here's a link to the one I use and I love it. Sometimes I'll even offer buckets of my compost to friends that garden if they want to come take it. After all, good soil is expensive at the store so I'm saving them money too! They come take some free plant food while I get rid of my old food. This significantly reduces my carbon footprint because now all of my food waste is being broken down naturally with oxygen and good microbes.
I keep a big bowl in my freezer or fridge for my scraps throughout the week then toss them in my compost bin once it's full. I add dry leaf litter from my yard to mix with the food and VOILA, compost here we come! It should be noted that you should not compost meat or dairy (but all the more reason to eat a plant-centric diet). If your compost smells funky that means it doesn't have enough dry carbon (i.e. brown leaves, twigs, hay, dead plants, old dry soil) so literally just add dirt. Mine has never smelled bad and I compost in hot humid Florida. Worm bins are great too because those little cuties eat all your scraps. Here's some info on why worm gardens are so wonderful.
SHARE YOUR FOOD. I know that's asking a lot. I love my food don't get me wrong, but food portion size in America has gotten SO out of control that we could feed SO many more people. Instead we are wasting money and resources on uneaten food for oversized portions. What my friends do when we go out to eat is share plates, we'll typically order an app and two meals to share between 3 people. More people, more things here and there as you need. No need to go insane and get way more than you'll eat, but this way everyone can enjoy a wide variety of food, while still getting a substantial portion.
Organizations like Rescuing Leftover Cuisine are popping up around the country working to change the food waste crisis and teaching us all to waste less & love more. Host leftover lunches at work, potlucks, spice cabinet exchanges, share food with neighbors and put on community meals or donate the food to local kitchens in need to spare the wasted food.
Buy less, eat more, compost the rest. Take the unloved, "uglier" funny shaped veggies that are still healthy. Shop local to reduce wasted resources and industrial impacts.
The entire earth has already increased 1.5 degrees warmer since the industrial revolution. We need to vote for policies that matter, for industries to change and create a new norm by only using what we need and joining the #zerofoodwaste movement.
By getting into the groove of these simple behaviors those of us that can choose, can make a major collective impact. Please share with a friend!