Kate Williams, RD
I recently had two experiences that made me realize that I can and should be doing more to go greener AND reduce food waste. Professionally, I attended a webinar on reducing food waste that was educational, eye-opening and truly caught my attention. I also chaperoned a second grade field trip to a landfill and local garden/art center that featured recycled products as art forms and interactive exercises in composting and more. We go to the dump with our trash and recycle paper, cans and glass containers, but when I really took a deeper look, I saw that we throw away A LOT of food and miss the bar on recycling more than we should. I realized we can do MORE to create LESS waste. The benefits are numerous – it helps the environment, reduces my grocery bill and allows me to give to others.
Reduce food waste at home - my three strategies
Serve a little less at meals - As we age we need to focus more on the calories we eat versus the calories we burn through exercise. I try to make sure I am serving portions that are not too large at meals. My husband and I don’t want to overeat and my children tend to leave too much on their plates. My goal – match what is served with what should and will be consumed.
Leftovers take many forms - Assess the leftovers. Are there enough to make another meal for our entire family, just a lunch for my husband OR just a little chicken left to toss into a salad? Consider composting as a way to make use of certain food scraps. Check out these resources to help you get started! My goal – stop throwing away so much food.
Buy frozen, canned and imperfect produce - When you browse the produce aisle, don’t shy away from imperfect or “ugly” produce. It is just as nutritious as its pretty counterpart. In addition to giving “ugly” produce a chance, be mindful to not buy more fresh produce than you will likely eat in a given timeframe. I often find myself throwing away spoiled fruits and veggies; buying frozen and canned goods allows me to get fruit and veggie nutrition paired with a much longer shelf life! My goal – don’t be so picky about produce appearance and stock up on more canned veggies/fruits.
Minimizing my waste, maximize my donation
Reduce use of plastic bags - According to the Earth Policy Institute, “100 billion plastic bags pass through the hands of U.S. consumers every year—almost one bag per person each day”.1 Most plastic bags are recyclable, but aren’t reaching the correct avenues for this to happen, and end up in the landfill, roadside or waterways. Switching to reusable bags is a great way to reduce waste. Remember to return them to the trunk after unloading from the store for next time. What about smaller plastic baggies? When I pack lunches I send the kids with reusable lunch boxes and plastic sandwich boxes, but then drop the ball when it comes to snacks and sides. I plan to use snack containers more often and purchase some waste-free lunch containers with compartments.
Think before you trash it - On the field trip, we got to see first-hand just how much paper scraps, cans, glass and more were headed to the landfill. This reminded me of how often I have dumped recyclable goods into the trash. Post a list of recyclable goods in your house or garage (usually available on your location government/sanitation website) so that nothing gets trashed that can be recycled. Recycling duty at home is a great task for kids.
Increase donation to Feeding America - Figure out my savings from decreasing use of paper plates/plastic baggies and food and make a donation to those with food insecurities.
Campbell believes in the importance of following a sustainable business model. We have set numerous goals related to how we sustainably grow, source and produce food. For more details visit Campbell's Corporate Responsibility Commitments.
Do more to waste less!
Kate received her bachelor's degree in dietetics from the University of Delaware and completed her dietetic internship at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She has over ten years of experience in a variety of nutrition-related practice areas including clinical nutrition, weight management counseling, health and wellness and nutrition education. Kate has worked as a nutrition consultant to the Campbell Soup Company since 2005.
- New Bans on Plastic Bags May Help Protect Marine Life
- U.S. Food Waste Challenge FAQs
- Feeding America