Save money and fight climate change by reducing food waste

Nov 11, 2022

Silvia Viera

a zoom in on a parent and childs hands bagging onions

We throw out a staggering 30-40% of food, or the equivalent of $408B, in the U.S. every year. With 34 million people in the country experiencing hunger this is extremely wasteful. It’s also terrible for our warming climate.

When food scraps go to landfills they don’t decompose properly. Instead, they release methane which is a powerful greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. And then of course there’s all the wasted water, energy, and other resources that go into producing that food in the first place.

Not many people know that our actions at the personal and household level can drive 25- 30% of global emission reductions needed to curb climate change. Project Drawdown scientifically calculated the top 20 highest impact climate actions, spread across four categories: Food, Waste, Travel, and Energy (in descending order of impact).

So let's talk about the biggest category: food waste! We put together a short guide with 6 of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce food waste at home. Cut down on carbon emissions and save hundreds of dollars in grocery shopping in the process!

1. Create an “eat me first” section in your fridge and pantry

Store the foods that will expire soonest in a section labeled “eat me first”. This helps you remember to eat those before opening something else.

2. Meal plan so you buy only what you need

When you grocery shop according to planned meals you reduce impulse purchases and save money by buying items you need for multiple recipes in bulk.

3. Freeze food you won’t be eating right away

You can freeze almost anything! I love freezing leftover coffee and using the ice cubes as my iced coffee on mornings when I don’t have time to make it fresh.

4. Start composting food scraps

Composting is the best way to make sure the food that you do throw away decomposes properly. You recycle food scraps into soil-enriching fertilizer that will grow new food for us!

5. Distinguish between “best by” and “expiration” dates to avoid unnecessarily throwing things out

Companies come up with all sorts of terminology to encourage you to throw food away and buy more products from them. The best by date is just a suggested date by which to consume the product for optimal freshness while the expiration date reflects the last date in which a product is safe to consume. Either way, do the “sniff test” and make sure foods have really passed the expiration date before throwing them away.

6. Set a weekly reminder to check on your fridge & pantry

Setting a reminder to regularly check on your food will help you to not only clear out any food that’s passed the expiration date but also make sure you’re not buying more of what you already have at home.

The Coexist app helps couples & roommates to plan, coordinate, and remember housework. You can collaborate on meal plans, grocery lists, and set reminders to clear out expired food.