I’ll cut right to the chase: Americans are wasteful. We throw away things all day long without batting an eye. Nobody ever tosses their Starbucks cup into the trash and wonders where it ends up. If you do wonder where it ends up, you’re most likely trying to recycle that cup or even refuse it. If you’re like most of America, you throw that cup into the trash day after day. It’s okay though because we’ve all grown up with this idea. The idea that we can move onto the next one. Convenience is key, right? Whenever something breaks, just buy a new one. This is the overall lifestyle that we live. Until right now, some of you may have never even thought of the amount of waste you produce in one day.

I’m not talking strictly about Starbucks cups, though. Americans are wasteful in general. According to nrdc.org, “The average American consumer wastes 10 times as much food as someone in Southeast Asia, up 50 percent from Americans in the 1970s.” I grew up in a household where food was not wasted. If we went out to eat and didn’t finish everything on our plate, you best believe it was going in a take-out box and into our fridge to be eaten later on or the next day. Leftovers (whether they came from a restaurant or we made too much food) were a very common thing on our weekly menu at home. That’s how I choose to run my household. The more I learn about Zero Waste, though, the more I realize how wasteful really am.

Think about it this way. When you’re making dinner from scratch, you have a lot of food waste. Ends of onions, carrots, apple cores, potato skins, avocado skins, orange peels, etc. If you have a garbage disposal you may dispose of some food scraps in there but what about the stuff you can’t put in the garbage disposal? It goes into the trash. “Moreover, almost all of that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where organic matter accounts for 16% of U.S. methane emissions.”

This is where composting comes in. There are several different ways to compost, depending on your living situation. If you have a backyard, you can actually make your own compost bin. People that do this keep a container in their kitchen and add any food scraps to the container. Then they empty the container every few days into their compost bin. If you’re in the city like me, there are a few different options. The method I’m currently doing (which I got the idea for from Lauren from Trash is for Tossers) is keeping a metal bowl in my freezer and adding my compost to it. Once it’s full, I’m going to take it to a local farm that accepts compost and dump in there, which will turn into great fertilizer. **You can also reuse some of your old scraps and make a homemade vegetable broth, and then compost them once you’ve made your broth!**

Another option is to create a vermicompost, which is a worm compost. You can create your own or if you search around your area you might even find a company that brings you a container full of worms and will do weekly pickups. Basically, a vermicompost is a container full of red worms that eat your food waste and turn it into fertilizer, which is called worm castings…aka worm poo. The bin doesn’t smell and can replace your garbage disposal/can. However, you can’t put everything into the bin. There are certain food scraps that the worms will eat and others they’ll avoid, so you may still want to keep another form of compost in your kitchen somewhere.

My last tip for producing less food waste is an idea that may not be in your area but you may want to start! Where I live, there’s a company called 412 Food Rescue that aims to gather food that is otherwise going to be thrown away. This is great for banquets, weddings, events and restaurants that have copious amounts of leftover food that is going to be thrown away. You can contact someone to come get the food and then it will be taken to local food banks and homeless shelters. Like I mentioned, this may not be available everywhere but I encourage you to research it and think about starting your own food rescue.

There are so many ways you can reduce your food waste and these are just a few tips. If you have any questions feel free to ask me! If you’re already composting, let me know how! I love hearing everyone’s form of composting and what they do. I’ll leave links to some helpful articles and interesting reads.

How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill (this article also talks about expired “sell by” dates and how this is incorrect a lot of the time, which results in food being thrown away that is otherwise edible)

Apartment Composting 101: Vermicompost with Barb Finnin (this is a great video to watch if you are interested in creating your own vermicompost!)

Start Your Own Food Rescue Organization 

Composting

Hope you guys enjoyed this read!