Reducing Wasted Food Basics
Most people don’t realize how much food they throw away every day — from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce. More than 96 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills. In 2011, we landfilled more than 36 million tons of food waste. Once in landfills, food breaks down to produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.
Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food
- Saves money from buying less food.
- Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
- Conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then landfilling it).
- Supports your community by providing donated untouched food that would have otherwise gone to waste to those who might not have a steady food supply.
Ways to Reduce Wasted Food
- Shop your refrigerator first! Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more.
- Plan your menu before you go shopping and buy only those things on your menu.
- Buy only what you realistically need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
- Be creative! If safe and healthy, use the edible parts of food that you normally do not eat. For example, stale bread can be used to make croutons and beet tops can be sautèed for a delicious side dish.
- Nutritious, safe, and untouched food can be donated to food banks to help those in need.
- Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables – especially abundant seasonal produce.
- At restaurants, order only what you can finish by asking about portion sizes and be aware of side dishes included with entrees. Take home the leftovers and keep them for your next meal.
- At all-you-can-eat buffets, take only what you can eat.
- Compost food scraps rather than throwing them away.
Food Donation Resources
Disclaimer: These sites are listed for informational purposes only. US EPA does not endorse any of these entities nor their services. Contact Us to suggest any additional links. The following links exit the site Exit
- Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act of 1996 encourages individuals or businesses to donate food to nonprofits by minimizing liability.
- Feeding America Food Bank Locator
- Food Rescue volunteer to collect unused food from restaurants and grocers to supply local food banks.
- Food Donation Connection provides useful information on food safety. FDC assists food service companies with putting their surplus food to good use.