The garbage that is produced by what we eat is a big contributor to pollution and global warming. All the food wrappers, packaging, and the stuff we think we're gonna eat or use but end up throwing away are some of the big aspects to the problem. Luckily, there are things you can do in your daily life to help reduce food waste. 

Ditch the Plastic

kale, lettuce, vegetable, swiss chard, fresh vegetables, local produce, farmer's market
Sam Jesner

Instead of buying produce that's in plastic containers or bags, get the unpackaged kind when you can, and use reusable produce bags, or don't use any! Avoid using straws and plastic plates and utensils, and use eco-friendly ones when you can. And don't buy the bag of cauliflower florets. Just get the regular one and cut it up yourself. It literally takes less than 5 minutes and no plastic ends up in a lot somewhere polluting our air. Woo-hoo!

We use more plastic than we even realize, and all those plastic food containers and water bottles can add up over time, which is why it's key to look for plastic alternatives such as recycled plastic, paper, cardboard, and other greener options. For a week, try to only buy produce that doesn't come in plastic. 

Shop in Bulk

Caty Schnack

Don't be afraid of the bulk section! It's so convenient, cheap, and eco-friendly, and can give you a leg up in your efforts to reduce food waste. However, if you don't bring in your own little baggies or containers, the waste can add up pretty quick so I would recommend bringing a few extra reusable produce bags or mason jars for this.

Most grocery stores have an ample bulk section with great variety and selection. In my local grocery store, you can even get stuff like quinoa, cacao powder, spirulina, dates, and hemp seeds in bulk. Talk about major savings and health gains. 

Avoid Packaged Foods as Much as Possible

candy, chocolate, chips, milk, sweet, goody
Jennifer Cao

Processed food (in its vast majority) isn't good for you anyway, so avoiding it as much as you can is only beneficial. Instead of a bag of cookies, have an apple for a snack. The core will decompose much quicker than the plastic from the cookies. While packaged food is more shelf-stable and can last longer without going bad, it creates a lot of waste that can take a great deal of time to decompose. 

Fruit comes in its own convenient package, making it the perfect pick-me-up. When you swap packaged foods for natural foods, you also become healthier. So peel away your bananas instead of buying a bag of banana chips to substantially reduce food waste. 

Only Buy What You Need

Laura Rodriguez

I know the feeling of going to the grocery store and filling your cart with insane amounts of food, just to have it slowly dwindle down and pile up on your counter. We have to be realistic. Take a look in your fridge and pantry and identify the food items you haven't touched in more than a week, and take note. 

Take out all the things that have lived past their expiration date, and analyze them. Did you really need to get the huge jar of mustard if you only have it once a week? What about the box of wilted sprouts that you constantly forget to use? (This one happens to me all the time). Decluttering will also help organize things and make what you do eat more visible and easy to access. 

It's easy to shop for food and not think about how much we're actually gonna use it. Make a list of the things in your house that you find yourself throwing out every week, and don't buy them anymore. It can be tempting to see all the food in the pretty packaging at the store, but make a list of the things you're actually gonna eat, and stick to it! 

Store Food Properly and Eat Your Leftovers

sweet, Whole Foods Market, Whole Foods, Fruit, mango, orange, kiwi, blueberry, jar of fruit, strawberries, strawberry, grape
Shelby Cohron

Buy air-tight containers and jars to extend the life of your food in the fridge or counter. Sometimes we tend to make more food than we eat, and instead of throwing it away, we can save it for a day when we really don't feel like cooking and sticking a plate in the microwave is as much effort as we're willing to put in. We've all been there. 

Freeze things! If you notice your bread is hanging on to dear life but you still have a chunk of it left, stick it in the freezer and just thaw it or throw it in the toaster when you need it. Bananas are getting all soft and spotty? Slice them up and freeze them for banana nicecream or smoothies (this applies to other fruits such as berries, mangos, pineapple, etc.). 

Ah, kale and spinach. These power greens are perfect one day and then completely spoiled and wilted the next. All it takes is a tiny bit of moisture to wreck their shelf life, so it's best to store them in air-tight containers with cloth towels on the top and bottom to prevent moisture from getting in the way of you having your green juice every morning. You can also blend them up with water and put them in an ice cube tray to add to smoothies for an instant boost.

Bring Your Own Reusable Cups or Containers

tea, coffee, beer, Starbucks, Starbucks cups, Starbucks logo, Starbucks items
Shelby Cohron

If you can't live without your morning Starbucks but feel bad about all those paper cups and plastic lids, get your own thermos! You can buy the ones they sell in their shops or score cheaper options online or at your local supermarket. Some places even offer a discount for bringing your own cup, so you'll get some bonus savings on top of cutting down food waste. 

If you eat at a cafeteria or you order food to pick up at a restaurant, bring your own tupperware to take home and avoid all the wasteful packaging. It can definitely get tedious bringing along your own containers everywhere you go, but you can always fit them in a bag and give them a gentle rinse in the restroom so your stuff doesn't smell like tacos all day. 

Start Your Own Food Compost

herb, cereal, Grow, Garden, Gardening, farm, Rich, Soil, handful, dirt, compost
Alex Frank

This one takes a little more effort than the previous tips, but it's worth it in the long run, especially if you have your own organic garden. Food composting is basically throwing all your food scraps from things like fruits, vegetables, herbs, tea bags, coffee grinds, cardboard boxes, and other items (excluding animal products because they attract pests and rodents, and the rotting smell is no fun either), in a compost bin and having them decompose.

The microorganisms in the fresh starter compost (you can get it from a friend or in stores) break down the food scraps and create a brown organic substance called compost, which is excellent for adding to soil and using for your garden. There are multiple ways to start a compost and many uses to it, some of which can be found here

If you've been waiting to start your own garden and want to become a little more green in the process, this is it! I've been keen on starting one for a while and I think I just motivated myself. 

So there you go! A few practical step to get you on your way to reduce food waste and help save the planet. Remember, it's all about the little things–everything counts. Even if you're just able to do one of the things listed above, it's an excellent start! Slowly, you'll become more conscious of your habits and tweak them to waste less, save more $$, and keep the Earth clean.