One of the biggest things about the Holiday Season is the FOOD! No matter how hard we try we are never able to eat everything that is prepared.

A 2016 University of Hawaiʻi/Department of Agriculture study estimated that residents wasted more than 250 thousand pounds of food, approximately 26% of the available food supply, in 2010. This equated to approximately 360 pounds of food per person. [1]

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Food wasted is money lost. They study estimated that this annual food waste to be $1 billion, roughly $700 per person, per year[2], roughly $2 a day[3].

When food is thrown out money is not the only resource wasted:

  • Food waste accounts for 20% of the waste stream in landfills.
  • Buried food, like that in a landfill, produces methane, a green house gas that is 25% more potent than carbon monoxide.
  • When we food is thrown out approximately ¼ of the water used to produce it is lost.
  • One-fifth of Hawaiʻi households are food insecure- they have difficulty providing enough food for everyone in the household during the year[4]
  • Reducing food waste would increase the food supply, resulting in fewer families experiencing food insecurity.

Obviously there are a number of steps you can take to reduce your food waste. But where do you start? Here are some green tips to help you get started.

Shopping:

  • Plan out the menu for the entire week. Try to incorporate ones where you can use ingredients for several meals. For example you can have roast chicken on day one, make chicken salad sandwiches for lunch the next day & cook chicken curry for dinner the following evening.
  • Before you shop, check your supplies at home to see what you need. This will help you only buy what you need.
  • Make a shopping list & stick to it! This helps you buy only what you need & avoid impulsive buys.
  • Avoid bulk buying whenever possible. If you are throwing away food that goes bad, are you really saving money?

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At Home:

  • When you get home organize the food in your fridge, on your shelves & in your cupboards so that the oldest items are in the front & are used first.
  • Organize food in fridge and cupboard so older food is used first.
  • Repurpose left over meats & vegetables. Add fruit to a “vegetable salad.” Can, preserve, pickle leftover vegetables.
  • Keep track of expiration dates & use it before they expire. Properly stored fresh foods are safe several days past their “use by date.” Investigate. If it looks, smells & taste okay, then it should be fine. Click here to learn more about food product dating.[5]
  • Store food properly. If you need to throw something away, think about how you can better store that item the next time you buy it.[6]

The following resources can help you find a good starting place for you & your family.

Adopting practices to reduce the amount of food we waste is something to start this Holiday Season & practice year round.

[1] Hawaiʻi Wastes $1B Worth of Food a Year, and Consumers are the Worst Culprits 

[2] Wasted

[3] Hawaiʻi Wastes $1B Worth of Food a Year, and Consumers are the Worst Culprits 

[4] Food Insecurity Among Households

[5] Food Product Dating

[6] 29 Ways to Reduce Food Waste

 

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