Cutting back food waste

November 09, 2012

Food waste is a large source of guilt for consumers, as well as being a waste of money and resources. Find out what's being done and how you can get involved.

Forty percent of all food in the US goes uneaten, according to estimates from The National Resource Defense Council – that’s about $165 billion wasted each year; and costs the average four person family from $1,350 to $2,275 a year. To put it into perspective, it’s about 20 pounds of food wasted per person, every month.
A study recently published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that when trays were removed from a buffet style dining service, the solid waste patrons (in this case students) threw out decreased by 18 percent - from 4.39 ounces (with trays) to 3.58 ounces once the trays were removed. Knowing you can take only what you can carry seems like a great way to reduce wasted food and also curb over-eating in buffet and similar settings.
Wasting food is a large source of guilt for Americans, and according to the Eco Pulse Survey from the Shelton Group, 39 percent of us feel “the most green guilt” from wasting food. That’s nearly double the amount that feels guilty about not recycling.
McKinsey Consulting recently reported that standardizing expiration dates on foods could prevent up to 20 percent of food waste at home. Clearly consumers are often confused about "best by" versus "sell by" dates and putting in place a standard could prevent further unnecessary waste.

The School of Engineering at University of Edinburgh, and others are testing the use of compost to produce renewable energy for water and heat. Researchers found that once the infrastructure is put in place, it's cost is comparable to it's rivals.
Reducing food waste will not only save consumers money but will also save resources. It’s time to educate and empower supermarkets, food companies, and consumers about how to curb waste.