- For many Americans, the holiday season means preparing and eating more meals.
- Here are some steps Americans can take to reduce food waste in their own homes this year.
- These include reusing leftovers, being mindful of cooked parts, and donating untouched items to food banks.
The holiday season is often an excess of hours. This includes spending too much time with family, shopping for too many gifts, and cooking too much.
Americans throw away about a third of the food they buy each year, but whether it’s leftovers from a party or leftover fruitcake, food waste rises between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. tend to increase.
Waste Reduction, Recycling, Composting and Solid Waste Program at Stanford University.
According to the EPA, food makes up about 24% of all municipal solid waste, and the average family of four loses about $1,500 each year to leftover food.
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“I eat more on my days off. [and] we entertain more. So we have new dishes, larger portion sizes to accommodate the number of guests that may or may not arrive. It disrupts our entire routine,” Brian Low said in an interview with Changing America. Roe is a professor in the Department of Agriculture, Environmental and Development Economics at Ohio State University and an economist specializing in food waste.
“We likely don’t want to make too little food while having fun, so we often overprepare items,” he continued.
But there are ways Americans can reduce food waste this holiday season. Doing so not only helps reduce the methane emissions released when food goes to landfills, but it also helps reduce the energy used throughout the food supply he chain. This includes the chemicals and water used in food, as well as the energy spent in labor, processors, transportation hubs and retailers.
For Roe, one of the key ways to reduce food waste is to encourage people to take leftovers and excess food home. “I just encourage people to love leftovers,” he said.
“You can also get into an experimental mode by being more creative with leftovers and thinking of new and exciting things with leftover ingredients or leftovers themselves,” he added.
There are several apps and websites that allow users to plug in ingredients they have on hand and offer new recipes using those ingredients.
“With food prices soaring, if you can get one more meal out of the fridge a night, it’s a win-win,” says Roe.
Incorporating compost into your daily routine can also help. By composting organic matter, consumers can reduce landfill waste and create new resources. However, composting does not address the energy in the food supply he chain used before the consumer purchases the product.
“Composting is a much better approach than putting things in a landfill,” Roe said.
Donating pristine food to food banks, soup kitchens and other charities is also an option. This includes checking the inventory of what’s already in your fridge and cupboards before you go shopping.
Food can travel about 1,500 miles from farm to table, so using locally sourced foods and ingredients for your holiday meals can help reduce your carbon footprint.
Freezing excess food for consumption is another good alternative to throwing it away, but using recyclable or reusable containers when serving food can reduce landfill waste this holiday season. helps reduce the
In the United States, food waste equals 32.6 million cars in greenhouse gas emissions. And while the country has committed to cutting food waste in half by 2030, Roe says more can be done to raise awareness about the problem.
“I think people forget their connection to the environment because they think food is natural. I really forgot,” he said.
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