Did you know that approximately a third of what we throw away in Spokane is food waste? Food waste not only puts stress on our Waste-to-Energy facility, but it also could have been used as a precious compost resource. Here’s some “food” for thought: While the world wastes about 1.4 billion tons of food every year, the United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 40 million tons — 80 billion pounds — every year. That’s like every person in America throwing more than 650 average-sized apples right into the garbage — or rather right into landfills, as most discarded food ends up there. In fact, food is the single largest component taking up space inside US landfills.
Put food waste in its place!
Food waste prevention starts with you. Follow these recommendations to plan, buy, preserve, and properly dispose of food to reduce waste:
- Before going to the grocery store:
- Heading to the grocery store
- After putting those groceries away:
- If you go out to a restaurant to eat:
- Before the food turns into waste:
- If you do end up with food waste:
Before taking a trip to the store, check out your refrigerator! Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more. Did you know that there are tools for you to help find recipes based on ingredients/food that you already have in your home? Applications like SuperCook (link for the desktop application or download the application on your smartphone/tablet) will let you add the ingredients you have at home and produce a recipe based on those items. Save money and reduce food waste/trips to the grocery store by using what you already have!
If you need to take a trip to the grocery store, be sure to plan your meals ahead of time! Meal planning is one of the most effective ways to reduce food waste and save money by only buying what you need. Applications like “Whisk” will let you instantly turn any recipe or meal plan into a grocery shopping list, making it easy and convenient for everyone. Also, be sure to shop little and often to avoid stocking up when you go to the store.
Try following these tips and tricks to help certain foods last longer (visit this page for additional tips and tricks). Make sure you set your refrigerator to a cold temperature, freeze easily-perishable items like bread or leftovers, and ignore those Best by, Sell by, and Use by expiration dates. It is impossible for a manufacturer to know exactly when each product is going to go bad.
Recognize that portion sizes differ and order only what you know will be eaten. If you end up with leftovers after your meal, ask to have your leftovers wrapped up and take them home to eat them later! Also, try to reconsider the “all-you-can-eat” buffet-style restaurants as this usually results in people taking out more food than they can eat with no permission to take it home, resulting in more food waste.
If you still have food that is edible but you won’t be able to use or consume it, try donating that food to a food bank. If possible, use some of the tricks mentioned above to add life to the items before they turn into waste!
Know that the food waste doesn’t always have to end up as trash! If you subscribe to Waste Management’s or the City of Spokane’s curbside trash and recycling collection, then consider subscribing to the green bin as well. You can place all of your yard and food waste in the green bin instead of the trash can, allowing you to reduce your trash can size and save money! This will also turn the yard and food waste into a valuable compost resource at the Barr-Tech composting facility. If the green bin isn’t an option, consider home composting! Home composting is a great way to keep food and yard waste out of the waste stream and create a valuable compost resource for your garden or yard. Food and yard waste can also be taken to the County transfer stations and the City of Spokane’s Waste-to-energy facility for clean-green disposal as well.