Let’s get serious for a moment about food waste.
Up to 40% of all the food we buy ends up in the trash, a subject we’ve tackled previously in our Too Good to Waste dinner series. Food waste is inevitable. Understanding what people are wasting, how much they are throwing away and why they are doing so is crucial to understanding and working toward solving the problem.
When our founder Kate Djupe attended the OSU Food Waste Conference in August, she came away struck by the recurring message that to consider composting as part of the solution for waste is irresponsible--most waste is from overbuying.
Most memorably, speaker Laura Moreno of the UC Berkeley-based Energy and Resources Group, spoke about the significance of non-human waste participants. When a person puts leftovers in the refrigerator, they are shifting the responsibility and burden to eat the food onto an inanimate object, the refrigerator. Then when they’re cleaning out the fridge and the food is moldy or wilted, they can blame the refrigerator rather than their own lack of desire to eat leftovers.
So how do we do better? In short, we need to change the way we shop, meal plan, and manage our expectations of leftovers.
A recent Washington Post column encourages us to rethink the word “fresh” as well. That’s because “fresh” often equals “perishable,” and often translates into an awful lot of waste. If you’re a frequent offender of tossing wilted fruits and veggies, next time you’re at the grocery consider purchasing frozen or canned products instead. Frozen packages of broccoli will last much longer than bags of fresh florets and are much less likely to eventually end up in the trash can.
And guess what? All of this applies to businesses as well. For businesses, food waste can increase costs significantly. Food is expensive, and businesses pay to store it, pay their staff to prepare it, then pay to dispose of it--and that’s not even accounting for the environmental impacts of food production, transportation and disposal. Bottom line is unnecessary waste equals lost profits. That’s why any effort to reduce waste is worthwhile for your business.
If you own a business that would like to tackle the topic of food waste, we invite you to check out a roundtable discussion March 20 put on by the Ohio Sustainable Business Council, Abbe Turner of Lucky Penny Creamery and others. The expert panel will discuss ways to identify and reduce waste in food-based businesses, ways to divert and recover food waste from food businesses, as well as productive uses of food waste as a resource to help benefit the economy. RSVP for your spot here.