There are many ways to recycle your food waste: municipal collection, indoor or outdoor composting, food waste recyclers, etc. That said, before even thinking about giving a second life to your food waste, you should first reduce it at the source.
In this article, we first explain why food waste is a major issue and how it can be addressed to reduce the amount of food wasted. Happy reading!
Understanding The Problem of Food Waste
In total, one-third of the food produced each year in the world is lost or wasted.¹ These losses occur throughout the production, delivery, and consumption chain.
In Canada alone, up to 40% of the food produced is wasted, of which consumers throw away 47%. This shows how much of a difference we can make if we take steps to reduce the amount of food that ends up in the garbage.
“Too much food gets tossed because consumers and businesses assume a best-before date is a deadline and not a quality benchmark. […] It's not clear to the consumer and sometimes not to businesses that when we say 'best before' we're not talking about a food safety issue.”²
Now that the importance of addressing food waste is clear let's look at our options.
5 Tips to Reduce Your Food Waste
As consumers, there are many tips and tricks we can incorporate into our daily lives to reduce our impact and address the issue of food waste.
Where to start? Here are 5 strong actions you can take to reduce the amount of organic material that ends up in the garbage.
1. Plan Your Shopping
Before you even go to the grocery store, make a list of meals and snacks for the week. Then you can make a clear list of the foods and ingredients you will need to make these different recipes.
This will prevent you from putting nonessential foods in your cart and ending up with too much food in your fridge or cupboard.
A tip: check the expiration date before buying your food to make sure it won't spoil in the next few days. Some items that are nearing their expiration date or don't meet the food appearance criteria are sometimes discounted in grocery stores. Why not opt for these and use them the same night or the next day? This way, you'll save the store from throwing them in the garbage, and you'll save on your grocery bill.
2. Buy in Bulk
Have you heard of grocery stores and bulk stores? These stores offer many foods (fruits, vegetables, condiments, grains and cereals, baking ingredients, etc.) that you can buy without unnecessary packaging.
Simply bring your containers, weigh them on-site, and fill them with the ingredients you want. In Canada, you can visit Bulk Barn, which offers a wide variety of products.
Buying in bulk also allows you to try new products or buy small quantities of specific ingredients that you will need for a single recipe.
3. Store Your Food Properly
Once you're in the kitchen, it's important to make sure you organize and store your food properly.
A first step could be to cut up foods that spoil faster and place them in airtight containers. There are even containers adapted for certain products that extend their shelf life.
Some foods can also be placed in the freezer to preserve them and eat them in the coming days, weeks or months.
Once in the refrigerator, foods should be placed in the right place to maximize their shelf life. For example, place foods that need to be eaten sooner at the front, and canned goods that can be kept longer behind.
For more tips on best practices for a tidy fridge, check out this article from Good Housekeeping.
4. Recover Your Food Waste
When you are ready to throw away or compost a food item, ask yourself if it has been appropriately recovered. For example, meat bones and vegetable tops (carrots, celery, radishes) can be used to make beef, chicken or vegetable broth.
Citrus peels can be reused to create homemade household products or festive decorations. There are also delicious recipes for eating them, including Chocolate-Dipped Candied Orange Peel by Ricardo.
Once you've made the most of your food waste, now you can think about how to reduce and recycle organic waste. There are a number of ways you can use your food waste: municipal collection, indoor or outdoor composting, vermicomposting, bokashi, etc.
The Tero device, among others, allows you to transform your food waste into a natural fertilizer in just a few hours. You will be able to recover your food directly from your kitchen and use the fertilizing material in your plants, garden and vegetable garden.
5. Donate Your Food
A great way to avoid food waste is to donate extra food, leftovers or nonperishable food to community refrigerators, food banks or non-profit organizations. These people will welcome your donations with open arms and distribute them to individuals in need.
Looking for a drop-off location near your home? Here is a list of community fridges across North America.
Need a hand? Here are some useful resources!
Another mobile app, Frigo Magic, allows you to list the food in your fridge and get recipe ideas.
You can also browse websites that give tips and tricks to develop your knowledge and skills regarding food waste. Zero-Waste Chef is full of information on the subject.
In short, it is becoming increasingly urgent to address the issue of food waste to improve the fate of our planet in the short, medium, and long term.
Doing your part for the environment and making a real difference doesn't have to be complicated. There are many simple and easy options to reduce the amount of food that ends up in your garbage, from grocery lists to food banks to better organizing your fridge.