The best strategy to stop being a notorious food waster.

Food waste infographic

We waste far too much food. Have you heard that before? I’ll bet you have.
I’m also sure that many of you have read countless of advice about how to minimize food waste.
The problem is that it’s so time-consuming. You should plan your meals, find recipes for leftovers, freeze, pickle, preserve, compost…..
The list is endless. And you feel exhausted by just thinking about it.
Where on earth are you supposed to find the time for all these activities? You have a full-time job, kids, the dog, a house, and your old aunt to take care of.
If you are lucky, you may get one hour for yourself before you go to bed.

At the same time, you can read about the enormous amount of food that is wasted every year. Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted according to FAO. And that makes you feel guilty. For you know that you don’t do much, if anything, to reduce your food waste.
I know how it feels. I used to feel the same.

What you need is a strategy. A strategy which makes it easier to become a more responsible person. And the strategy is easier than you think.

Do not try to do everything at the same time.

Just pick one activity that you think you can manage. It doesn’t matter how simple it may appear. The important thing is that it somehow reduces your amount of food waste. Don’t feel guilty that you can’t do more. Put all those feelings aside and just concentrate on one thing. To make that specific task to a natural part of your everyday life.
Here are a few examples of simple activities that can reduce your food waste.

  • How often does it happen that you throw away the last piece of bread because it has become stale before you could eat it up? If it happens at all, divide the loaf in two when it’s fresh, and put one piece in the freezer.
  • Put new groceries in the back of your fridge or pantry, so you’ll use older food first before it expires.
  • Buying in bulk is not always a good idea. I know, it’s tempting to buy that 5 dollar bag of avocados. It’s such a good deal. If you manage to eat all of them before they become a brown mess that will say. You can, of course, freeze some of them, but will you remember to do that?
  • Convince yourself that the expiration date is something that is totally insignificant, invented by evil, greedy individuals who want you to buy new food instead (I know it is not like that but it has a good effect on the motivation). Trust your sense of smell instead. Most of the food is perfectly edible long after the expiration dates.

All these examples require a minimum of effort. But they can be a good start to something really good. A new conscious human being who cares about our environment. Yes, I’m talking about you. Just pick one of these examples and follow it slavishly until it’s as natural as brushing your teeth. Then pick another example. Before you know it, you will be what you thought was impossible.
One of those super humans, that plan your meals, find recipes for leftovers, freeze, pickle, preserve, compost……

You are a bit skeptical now, aren’t you? OK, maybe I can manage to cut the bread in half and put in in the freezer you may think. But pickles? It sounds so complicated. And who likes pickles anyway?
That’s a normal reaction. Most of us find excuses when we are confronted with something that makes us feel uncomfortable. We’re starting to invent all possible sort of problems and obstacles that will probably appear.

Ignore all these problems. They are insignificant. The only thing you have to concentrate on for now is to cut that damn loaf in half and put one piece in the freezer or whatever activity you choose to do.
All other problems are on another level that you can deal with in the future. And even if you never reach that level (which I think you will) you can always console yourself with one thing. At least you are doing something. And that’s so much better than doing nothing at all.

 

Imagine walking out of a grocery store with four bags of groceries, dropping one in the parking lot, and just not bothering to pick it up. That’s essentially what we’re doing.

Dana Gunders

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