LatinaLista — A drive through any community in the USA on trash pick-up day reveals an effort to recycle. Yellow lid bins crammed with paper, plastic, boxes, bottles, etc. show that people are getting the message about the environment and are trying to do the right thing. Yet, when it comes to how we, as a country, handle our food leftovers, it’s still a learning process that is costing people money and putting the world on the climate change fast-track.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Municipal Characterization Report, nearly 35 million tons of food waste was generated in 2012. To put it in dollars, it’s about a $165 billion annual loss. Considering food inflation, the fact there are 46.5 million people in poverty, with many affected by food insecurity and that rotten food accounts for 34% of all methane emissions in U.S. landfills, which is 20 times more damaging to the environment than CO2, the issue is in need of dire reform.
To combat this ongoing waste of food, the EPA created the Food Recovery Challenge to get people to set specific goals on how to either not waste food or end up throwing unwanted food in the trash.
Since the holidays are right around the corner, it’s a good chance that among the millions of turkeys thrown out after the Thanksgiving feast will still have some meat clinging to those bones or that the leftovers that didn’t fit in the fridge will end up in the trash. With those scenarios on the horizon, the EPA has some tips on how to be good stewards of our food supply:
- Plan your menu and make a list of everything you’ll need. Check your cupboards and cabinets to see what you already have on hand. Taking a detailed list to the grocery store will cut down on overbuying which, in turn, will reduce waste and save money.
- Use your leftovers. Make soup with leftover turkey and vegetables. Or, give them to your guests to take home.
- Donate usable food to a food bank, shelter, soup kitchen or other organization that feeds hungry people in your community.
- Compost your food waste. Composting reduces the amount of food waste that goes into the trash. And you’ll end up with free, nutritious fertilizer that will help next year’s garden grow. Uncooked vegetables and fruits, eggshells, and coffee grounds are just some of the items that can be composted.