Individuals play a strong hand in reducing food waste! Not only do we use our voice to tell restaurants and other businesses that we expect them to source-reduce food; we too can play a part. I wanted to share with everyone five things that I do as an individual to reduce my food waste. Keep reading for some tips on how you can do your part.
#1 Host Smarter
When hosting, I’m trying to cut down on my surplus food. This is a hard one, but it’s not impossible! If you’re like me, you’ve grown up with parents and friends who’ve always provided more than enough, and we’re trained to do the same thing when we host friends. It can be a tricky balance—to have enough food for my guest to feel sated and not run out, and to not provide so much food that we end up being wasteful. So I’ve started talking to all of my friends about my job at FRN, and they immediately get it—what it feels like to have so much food leftover. When I do host my friends, I always have extra to-go containers handy so I can share the leftovers with my guests, or I'll ask them to bring some containers with them, and keep for my family what I know we will actually eat.
#2 COLLABORATE FOR ACTION
I collaborate for action. I recently joined a Sustainable Food working group here in Washington, D.C. composed of individuals who work in a variety of sustainability roles for their day jobs and want to combine the power of our collective knowledge to put together events in our community, and support our larger community in being more aware of food recovery and other sustainability issues. From this collaborative effort, I know that I’ll also gain new knowledge for ways to be an ever-more conscientious community member. I’ll definitely share with the network how things progress!
#3 Follow the Food Recovery Hierarchy
My dog Gus always reminds me that on the U.S. EPA's Food Recovery Hierarchy, after source reduction and feeding hungry people, the next recommendation for recovering surplus food is to feed animals.
#4 COMPOST WHAT CAN'T BE SAVED
Compost Cab is a local business that picks up my compost right from my front porch. They service the Washington, D.C. area, and I know there are similar models gaining traction across the country, like the company Compost Pedallers in Austin, TX. For the food that is not recoverable, I am so happy I am able to compost! I can also toss in many paper products like napkins that might otherwise be tossed in the trash. And, at the end of the composting season, Compost Cab will give me back fresh compost for my garden!
#5 FREEZE! FREEZE! FREEZE!
I freeze the heck out of everything I can! I am a big believer in freezing food. When my garden exploded with tomatoes, what I couldn’t eat right away, give away, or can, I put in the freezer. When I make a big batch of soup, I freeze it in small batches. I not only say what the food is, I also make a note like, “Mmmmm!” if the dish was particularly tasty. And, if I made something that was just okay, I don’t freeze it; I eat it right away. I only reserve my freezer for foods I’m going to want to eat again with zeal.