The United States disposes of at least 35 tons of food waste every year. This means that each individual in the US wastes 30 percent of the food they buy or about $30 in the trash every month.
Similar conditions also occur in Indonesia. The results of a study by the Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas) with a number of institutions regarding the results of a comprehensive study of Food Loss and Waste (FLW) in Indonesia in 2021 found that food waste wasted in Indonesia in 2000---2019 reached 23--48 million tons per year or equivalent to 115-184 kilograms per capita per year.
Not only is money wasted, food waste is also contributing to the ongoing climate crisis. The annual amount of water and energy wasted from uneaten food in America each year would be enough to power 50 million homes.
Meanwhile, the amount of greenhouse gases produced from food waste is equivalent to carbon dioxide emissions from 42 coal-fired power plants, according to a 2021 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report. The main problem for many households is to buy too much food until it ends up partially rotting and then throwing it away.
However, there are actually more factors that contribute to waste in the food system than consumer behavior. "This is much bigger than the consumer problem," said Pamela Koch, professor of nutrition education at Columbia University's Teachers College.
However, that does not mean that each individual's efforts cannot have an impact. "There's so much that consumers can do," said Roni Neff, professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and co-author of the National Academies report.
Waste Reduction Strategy
The process starts with "recognizing what we throw away and what causes it," says Neff. "If we understand our own patterns and what's going on in our homes," he continued, the next step would be "figuring out how to organize the environment to make it as easy as possible to avoid food waste."
Here are expert strategies for reducing food waste and saving money quoted from CNN on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.
Refrain from shopping
"I'm a public health person, so I'd say one of the challenges is that we want to be healthier, and we're most visionary about that when we're in the grocery store and looking at all those products," Neff says. However, it's important to be realistic about what we're actually going to eat and realize that wasted products don't help anyone's health.
Offers buy two get one free for perishables and bulk purchases are only good for us if we are going to eat all the food we buy. "The sale convinced us to buy more than we needed," said Neff.
"It's not a savings if we're going to throw it away." Before adding a large package of chicken breasts or a large piece of fruit to your grocery cart, ask yourself if you know what you're going to do with it.
Make a Meal Plan
Meal planning is not an easy thing to do for many families. The key is to get used to it, you can start with a few meals a week and start from there. "A little planning ends up saving time and money," says Koch. "This is a small investment for a big return."
Koch suggests that the primary cook/prep in every household starts by "thinking about the next week and what happens to your family." That's the plan, by keeping track of how much dinner will be eaten at home, and how many obligations, such as sports and music practice and work trips, will affect the meal.
Next, keep an inventory of what you already have. Having a list of all the ingredients that make up food in the kitchen, such as canned beans, pasta and whole grains, and foods in the freezer, such as vegetables, protein, and frozen leftovers, will remind you of what is available and ready to use. When you run out of meal ideas, look at the list.
Put Food Labels
If you're confused about leftovers and available food, try labeling all containers with the date when they were cooked and put in the fridge. Stick a magnetic whiteboard on the fridge to list available leftovers and/or any ingredients, such as fresh produce, that should run out by a certain date. For the tech-savvy, apps like Fridge Tracker and CozZo can remind you of what's in your fridge.
Neff also explains that date labels like "best by" and "sell by" don't mean that the food will immediately make you sick if you eat it shortly after the expiration date. However, that does not apply to baby milk.
Last Way Composting
Composting is not an excuse to throw away excess food. Experts warn that compost remains food waste because we waste already invested resources such as labor, water, time and fuel used to grow, process and transport food.
In 2018, 2.6 million tons of food waste was composted instead of being dumped in landfills, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Many cities across the US now have compost collection or delivery programs available for households that do not wish to manage their own compost bins.