Healthy Living

Wasting Less Will Save You Food, Money, and More

By  Dana Gunders, Staff Scientist, National Resources Defense Council May 29, 2014

Fresh Vegetable Shopping Stock Photo

Imagine walking out of the grocery store with four bags full of fresh food, dropping a bag, and not bothering to stop and pick it up. Seems crazy, but that’s essentially what most of us are doing in our daily lives. The average American throws away about $30 each month in the form of uneaten food. The lettuce that went bad, the leftovers you never got around to eating, and that science experiment in the back of the fridge you’re hoping will disappear – they all add up to the approximately 15% to 25% of food you buy that typically goes uneaten.

That’s real money going straight into the garbage instead of paying off your credit card bills or going toward your savings. Think about it. If you don’t eat half of that $10/pound fish, that’s $5 you’re throwing away. The last third of that pasta sauce jar that got a little tangy? That was at least a dollar’s worth. Day by day, we’re tossing cash out with our trash.

Agriculture uses about half the land area in the United States and a full 80% of the fresh water.  In fact, it takes the same amount of water to produce a hamburger as it does to take a 90-minute shower! Being careful not to waste too much food is actually one of the most environmentally conscious things you can do.  Not to mention, we have a serious hunger problem right here in the U.S., with one out of every six people going without enough food for at least part of the year. To have this food insecurity exist alongside such massive amounts of wasted food simply doesn’t seem right.

The good news is that turning around the food waste trend is not only doable, but it can actually improve your experience with food. What can you do? 

  • Freeze things before they go bad
  • Buy smaller quantities more often
  • Use a shopping list
  • Be realistic about what you really use

Before checking out at the grocery store, compare your list with what’s in the cart. It doesn’t take a huge change – just being careful to not waste food really will make a difference for you, your wallet, and the planet. 

Read more from Dana Gunders

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