In 2010, around one-third of the food produced in the United States was not consumed, and ended up being wasted. That is a troubling statistic, and represents a food waste crisis that if left ignored will continue to burn holes in the pockets of families, and contribute to waste and the myriad problems it causes our planet.
One of the first things you can do to cut food waste in your home is to stop treating the “best-before,” “use-by,” and “sell-by” labels as gospel that determine when food must instantly been thrown out. These labels are used for shelving and inventory purposes in stores, and you should always trust your eyes and nose before you trust a number on a package. Consider using food rather than throwing it out, unless your senses tell you otherwise!
Make your meal plans and take stock of what you have in your fridge and pantry before you go shopping, and shop accordingly. Consider joining a CSA to take advantage of freshness, and buy your groceries a few times a week and when needed, rather than all at once.
Food waste is one of the planet’s easier dilemmas to solve. While challenging, the solution will be more about changing people’s mindsets than creating over-complicated, high-tech answers. The first step? Understanding where food waste happens and how we can change the world by changing the way we eat.
Reduce Your Waste
Lower your grocery bills and environmental footprint by reducing your food waste.
Whether you are at home, school, or work, you are surrounded by opportunities to reduce food waste. So where do you begin?
Identify areas for improvement and choose your favourite strategies for cutting waste.
The refrigerator is a great invention that has hugely increased the time we can keep out food without it spoiling. However, whilst it is an essential tool to store food safely for some foods, others do not respond well to lower temperatures and can lose much of their flavor and even spoil quicker when stored in the fridge.
DISCLAIMER: Please notice that this post is for people, like me, who eats out of boredom not for hunger. I’m not at all supporting the idea of avoid eating. Do not misinterpret this message linked to anorexia or any other eating disorder. If you have not eaten in the last 4 hours, then your body is asking you for food and nutritions. Listen to your body and take healthy measures. All the information here shared (in the article and the blog in general) and my own does not substitute professional medical advice.
If you’re one of the many people who choose to make their way to the pantry when you’re bored, STOP! There are many other productive things you could be doing that will take your mind off food. Try some of these activities:
1. Plate It
When I want to eat everything in sight, it’s sometimes for a good reason: I’m hungry! If my breakfast, lunch, or dinner doesn’t satisfy me, I inevitably end up aimlessly snacking. Instead, I prepare a snack with a mix of healthy carbs, protein, and fat, and place it on a plate before I eat it. That way, I see how much I am eating instead of mindlessly chomping away.
2. Drink Up
I drink water throughout the day, but I also sip right before and during my meals to help satisfy my hunger. And if I’m feeling extra snacky, I’ll chug 8 to 10 ounces of water and then wait a little while before I decide whether to eat something. Most of the time, water does the trick.
Hello again. Today I’d like to continue our series about how to be eco-friendly in a laboratory. Remember last weeks post about the initiative at the Simon Fraser University? Here’s another university promoting green laboratories: the University of Washington. Besides the Green Office, Green Greek (“acknowledges and educates Greek community members about their habits at home relating to sustainability”) and “SEED Green Endorsement” (recognising UW students living on campus and off, who are thoughtful about the impact of their daily life on the environment), it has the Green Laboratory Program, which I’ll introduce here now in more detail, i.e. especially the Freezer Challenge.
As pointed out on their website, “Laboratories are one of the main generators of waste …”. So true. Working in a molecular biology lab, I’v thrown away a lot of consumables every day – all the reaction vials called Eppis, all the disposable pipette tips, transfer pipets, micro plates, … – it’s simply the way, it’s the way they are supposed to be used: just once. And then you throw them away.
But leaving this aspect aside for the moment (more about this in a later post), there’s another factor with a huge impact on the environment: the energy consumption of a laboratory. I didn’t know that a lab is “using about 4 times more energy than an office of the same size”. Wow. But giving it some thought, I absolutely believe it because there’s a lot of equipment running from morning to evening or even 24h. Of course, some equipment has to run permanently, such as the various incubators, fridges and freezers. After all, your freezer at home also runs 24/7, doesn’t it? But – and here’s an important difference – your freezer at home probably got a good Energy Star rating. Why? Let’s be honest: because it’s you who’s paying the electricity bill and getting one of those A+++ fridges is one one way to save money, isn’t it?
I know, we’re back talking about money and not just about saving the environment. My feeling is that you can’t avoid this connection – there’s simply a strong link between them. Anyway, why not use saving money as a strong motivation to be more eco friendly? In the laboratory, it’s the university who’s paying the bills. But if you care about it anyway and help them to reduce their energy bill:
a) you’ve done something good for the planet and
b) you might get more money for your research – at least, you’d very much hope, that’s where the saved money ends up.