With the world’s population increasing at a rapid rate, it's no surprise that the amount of food that's being thrown away and wasted is also increasing. Over $31 billion worth of food ends up in compost piles or landfills in Canada alone and 1.3 billion tons of food is thrown out annually worldwide. In Canada, approximately $28 of groceries per household end up in the garbage each week. That's like five Starbucks lattes worth of food waste. The most commonly tossed foods are fruits and vegetables, because they're fairly cheap and tend to mold and go brown the quickest.

So, why should we care? Over 193 million tons of greenhouse gases are produced annually due to North American food waste alone, which is equivalent to having 41 million cars driving on the road continuously for a year. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are a result of food waste pollution. These gases absorb infrared radiation, which heats up the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. 

This article has been quite disheartening so far, but there are plenty of easy ways to reduce food waste. Together we can get started on a journey to a cleaner earth with smaller landfills and lower greenhouse gas emission levels.

1. Live by the 'First In, First Out' rule 

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Denise Uy

When coming home from grocery shopping, move the older food in the fridge to the front and put the newer food towards the back. This encourages you to finish off the food that will spoil first.

2. Monitor what you throw away

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Jocelyn Hsu

Keep a small log in your kitchen of the most commonly thrown out food in your household. Sometimes people may not even realize they tend to always throw away certain foods more often than finishing it – like three of their five avocados from the bag, or bundles of fresh herbs. Hey, maybe it’s time to switch to buying individual avocados or see what you can do with dried herbs.

3. Embrace leftovers

Many people pack up their food for leftovers, but some have trouble actually eating it the next day. Challenge yourself to eat the lunch you so lovingly packed for yourself instead of eating out.

#SpoonTip: Leave off dressings/sauces from the meal and add it when you're ready to eat. This will prevent the food from getting soggy or moist (gross word, I know).

4. Repurpose scraps

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Jocelyn Hsu

There are many ways to reuse the things that would normally be thrown away, such as meat bones or fruit peels. Try using meat bones to make your own broth or fruit peels for zest on another meal.

5. Donate things you won't eat

Lots of the time people buy way more non-perishables than they actually need or want. A solution to this problem can be donating cans that you and your family may not eat to a local food bank. 

6. Plan before shopping

Fail to plan = plan to fail. Mapping out meals for the week and what ingredients you'll need for each recipe will help reduce stress while shopping and help you stick to a budget as well. Also, do NOT go shopping when you're hungry, as you'll most likely buy junk food you don't need (I'm guilty of this).

7. Freeze, freeze, freeze

Jocelyn Hsu

This tip can apply to SO many types of food. Anything from baked goods, dinner leftovers, or soups can be frozen. I fully understand it can be hard to finish an entire batch of banana muffins in a few days (or maybe not), but that doesn't mean you have to throw them away. Buy some freezer bags; muffins can be frozen for up to 3 months.

8. Buy the ‘funny-looking’ produce

At the grocery store, the produce that's bruised or discolored typically ends up in the garbage, because realistically who wants to buy a bruised apple when there are perfect-looking ones right beside it? This tip is something I've recently tried to implement into my daily life, as it's such an easy adjustment and the produce typically tastes exactly the same. Try purchasing the not-so-perfect looking produce when you shop, it will definitely reduce food waste as a whole.

#SpoonTip: Bruised fruit is completely safe to eat. Just cut out the bruised section and enjoy as you normally would.

These simple ways to reduce food waste can be implemented in your everyday life easily. Food waste is a global issue that can only be tackled from the inside out. Do what you can to help with this problem, your earth will thank you.