Beginner's Guide to Reducing Food Waste

The Basics you need to know.

The journey to reducing or zeroing food waste can sound like a daunting task. Given the disposable lifestyle we have are so accustomed to, zero waste of anything sounds almost impossible. But it’s not impossible! Look at Lauren Singer, Founder and CEO of Package Free and Trash is for Tossers, a blog giving the best tips on how to live a low or zero waste platform. Her conscious practices and activities have taught her to cultivate a lifestyle where through the course of four years, she only produces as much waste as what fits in an 8-oz Mason Jar.

<image creds: The Guardian>

And she’s letting you know you can do it too.

We’re not asking you to jump from 100 to zero waste in one day. We as founders and editors aren’t even there yet. But all it takes is awareness to make a difference. It takes honest, simple but conscious baby steps for waste-free habits to really stick and become a part of your lifestyle. And if “zero waste” is too ambitious for you, aim for “less waste.” Even less is more.

So let’s start small, and break it down.

Here are the three main pillars of sustainability you need when starting to live more consciously. We broke down the best ways on how to implement these principles into the three places college students produce the most food waste: our college campuses, the supermarket, and in our homes.

Be thoughtful… and take only what you need. How?

(target: college campuses)

  • Never grab a tray!! That is, if your school still has them. Grab a large plate instead. Better yet, grab a bowl. The bigger and easier it is to grab more food, the more tempted we become to fill it up even if it isn’t really what we want to eat. Be conscious of what you put on your plate, and hold yourself accountable to finishing everything you took. Get in the habit of #finishingyourplate

  • Before you take food to go, ask yourself if that’s really necessary. Think twice before you grab that banana to go: do you really need it, or will it end up bruised in your bag, or thrown away?

  • Look at the menu before you walk into the dining hall. Figure out what you want to eat so you are thoughtful of what goes on your plate.

Be frugal and smart… and plan ahead. Shop responsibly. What does this mean?

(target: supermarkets)

  • Know where your food is coming from. Opt for more sustainable and waste-conscious brands like Nature’s Pathand Barnana. Look for fun and healthy snacks committed to environmentally conscious, sustainable pillars, from processing to packaging, to stock up in your college dorm.

  • Hold off from grabbing a cart, and plan ahead. If you know what you’re going to buy, try and stick to the original plan as much as possible. Try not to be tempted to fill that large cart with more food, cheez-it boxes, yogurt tubs, oh and that bag of Doritos you see over there, oh and that bag of chocolate barks... if you start looking around, it’ll be endless. If you really need something else, just go back to get it. Practice #focusedshopping

  • Try to make more frequent, small trips to the supermarket, rather than less frequent, bulk trips, if your commute enables you to do that. Try not to bulk buy a big bag of tangerines, for example. Can you promise yourself that you will eat every single one before they go bad? If you hesitate, don’t do it! Buy only what you need. Remember, less is more!

Be adventurous… and do more with leftovers. Get creative! (What better time is there to get creative than during this time of quarantine?)

(target: home)

  • Reuse and repurpose!!! If you have leftovers, top it with an egg and turn it into your lunch for the next day. Bread turning stale? Turn it into french toast. Leftover tomatoes? Make salsa. Apples getting shrivelled? Make apple jam. We will be coming up with recipes for you, but here are some of our favorite recipes to get you started.

  • Compost!! Like our favorite waste-free warrior, Lauren Singer says, “being truly trash-free means eliminating as many single-use items from our lives as possible.” If you haven’t yet, take on composting, and don’t forget to include your tea bags in there.

  • Get informed. Follow our blog to learn more about different brands, chefs, influencers, social media accounts, and different outlets you can access to learn more about food waste and how YOU can become a conscious consumer. It is so empowering that through shopping smart, WE as college students can help reduce our carbon footprints. Reducing waste is the easiest and most accessible way to make a difference.

Our wasteful habits in these places, whether we do it consciously or not, all come down to one thing: we always want more. The supermarket is a deceiving jackpot of seemingly endless food. Our homes are meant to be healthy and safe sanctuaries, so if any rotten or overly ripe food threatens this balance, we toss it out to purchase new ones. At school, our dining halls have everything laid out on silver platters for us to take as much as we want, however much we want, whenever we want. Realizing these excesses is the first step towards fixing our lavish consumption habits. Spread the message, reduce waste, and be a #consciousconsumer. Make waste reduction a trend. Create a #consciouscollege.

Any more ideas on some easy waste reduction techniques to practice at home, on campus, or shopping at supermarkets? Let us know!

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