Fight Food Waste: 10 ways to reduce your personal food waste

Fight Food Waste

10 ways to reduce your personal food waste

Fight Food Waste

10 ways to reduce your personal food waste

By Jaime Clifton-Ross, Communications & Outreach Curator, National Environmental Treasure

How can you reduce your personal food waste? Here are 10 easy tips to integrate into your shopping, cooking, storage and eating habits.

A March 2021 United Nations Environment Programme report (UNEP) revealed that humans waste almost a billion tonnes of food every year. This amounts to 17% of the total food produced on the earth, a loss worth around $1 trillion. Dramatically underestimated for years, food waste also contributes an estimated 8-10% to our global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Executive Director of UNEP explained that if food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions”.

The report also revealed that 61% of global food waste comes from households, 26% comes from food services while retailers generate 13%. What’s more, Canadians waste more food per capita than our southern neighbours with an average of 79 kilograms a year per home.

Frozen fruit/berries
Photo by sagarmanis from Getty Images Pro

10 ways to reduce your personal food waste

The key to successfully supporting the environment through personal action is to do what you can and what is viable and sustainable for your life. As Everyday Conservationists, your approach might be different than your friends or family — and that’s okay! And while an emphasis on individual action can sometimes detract from the much-needed changes in our larger food systems, these behavioural shifts can help drive cultural changes.

So how can you reduce your personal food waste? Here are 10 easy tips to integrate into your shopping, cooking, storage and eating habits.

Tip 1: Know before you go

Plan your meals before shopping so that you only buy what you need. Try out grocery list apps such as Flipp to help organize your trips to the store.

Person holding phone with grocery shopping list in front of produce
Photo by shironosov from Getty Images/Canva

Tip 2: Don’t be afraid of frozen produce!

Frozen fruits and veggies are still just as nutritious as fresh ones since they’re picked and frozen at peak ripeness. Plus they stay fresh until they’re thawed, which means you only use what you need.

Tip 3: Make use of your freezer

If your veggies are on their way out, make a pot of chilli or stew. You can freeze the leftovers into individual meal portions, making future lunch and dinner prep a breeze. If you don’t have time to cook, you can freeze certain types of fruits and vegetables in reusable silicone freezer bags.

Tip 4: Stock up for veggie stock

Collect vegetable scraps, store them in a reusable container in your freezer and make a homemade veggie stock every two weeks. This will ensure you maximize the use of your vegetables before composting them and save you a few bucks on stock.

Vegetable scraps and peeler
Photo by Tonkovic from Getty Images/Canva

Tip 5: Give food a second life

Revive your wilted lettuce, stale bread or overcooked vegetables. For example, you can remove rotten stems and place a full head of lettuce in ice water to perk it up. You can also transform stale bread into tasty croutons for your salad while you can blend overcooked vegetables into a soup.

Tip 6: Become a storage pro

Learn about optimal conditions for common fridge and pantry items. Check out Save the Food’s storage tips detailing shelf life, optimal storage, freezing, revival and ways to use up ingredients before they spoil. For example, storing asparagus or fresh basil in water will help extend their shelf life.

Tip 7: Give herbs a long life

Dry out herbs that are on their way out by hang drying, oven drying or microwave drying. You can also fill up ice cube trays with olive oil and herbs to make flavourful frozen cubes for your homemade pasta sauce.

Fresh green herbs in brown wooden box
Photo by merc67 from Getty Images Pro/Canva

Tip 8: Find new ways to use leftovers

Experiment with new recipes that use thanksgiving leftovers, herb stems, overripe produce and even bones. Check out Save the Food’s recipes for stews, marinades, soups and pasta made from ingredients that are often tossed out.

Tip 9: Go bananas with berries

Go berry picking during the summer and fall, and freeze them for smoothies and fruit-filled treats year-round. We aren’t just talking about going to fruit farms either. Check to see if there are any wild berry bushes growing locally including blackberries, blueberries and saskatoon berries. This might also inspire you to take up preserving and canning.

Tip 10: Grow vegetables in a community garden

While this won’t provide you with all the produce you need, it will help deepen your connection to food production. Some cities, including Victoria, allow you to garden on city boulevards. They also started the ‘Get Growing, Victoria!’ initiative that provides locals with vegetable and herb seedlings along with gardening materials.