Eco Go Go

(Food) Waste not want not

September 30, 2020 Elyse Kardos Season 1 Episode 6
Eco Go Go
(Food) Waste not want not
Chapters
Eco Go Go
(Food) Waste not want not
Sep 30, 2020 Season 1 Episode 6
Elyse Kardos

How can you reduce the amount of food you throw away? Tune in to find out more!

Follow Eco Go Go on social media
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Rate and review Eco Go Go at ratethispodcast.com/ecogogo
Check out the new website at ecogogo.org

Music by Richie Colosimo - @parmageddon_
Artwork by Bronson Lockwood - @bronson.lockwood

Show Notes Transcript

How can you reduce the amount of food you throw away? Tune in to find out more!

Follow Eco Go Go on social media
Facebook
Instagram

Rate and review Eco Go Go at ratethispodcast.com/ecogogo
Check out the new website at ecogogo.org

Music by Richie Colosimo - @parmageddon_
Artwork by Bronson Lockwood - @bronson.lockwood

Elyse (00:00):

Hi everyone! Welcome to Eco Go Go, the show that makes sustainability easy. I'm your host Elyse Kardos. This week we will discuss food waste and how to reduce your food waste. Like I said last week, this ties in pretty well with composting. Additionally I realize the importance of this knowledge from my own habits. I want to waste less food and use everything that I have. I'm certainly guilty of food waste. Not only would this be so much more sustainable for me and the earth but it would also save me a lot more time and money so I don't have to go to the grocery store and spend more money and time. I hate going to the grocery store. So this week's topic is food waste not want not.


Elyse (00:00):

I have two terms for you this week. Food waste, sometimes referred to as food loss, is food that is not eaten. This can be the result of a variety of factors from loss of food during transport to the market all the way to consumers throwing away edible food. Our second term is a bit of a review. GHG which refers to greenhouse gases, and these absorb and emit radiant energy which causes a warming effect and as we've said before too much is not a good thing.


Elyse (00:00):

So let's start off with some facts. In 2015, the US generated over 250 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste and at least 15% of that waste was food waste. 30% of the food supply is wasted at the retail and consumer levels and we have so much greenhouse gas emissions from food waste. Food waste emits almost as much GHG as the nation of China. So if we were looking at greenhouse gas emissions on a on a national level it would be the third highest emitter behind the United States and China. And the average adult spends approximately one-fourth of their food budget on wasted food, which is food that was edible but disposed of in some manner.


Elyse (00:00):

What are some benefits of reducing food waste all around? Well we're looking at less pollution from food production activities, less greenhouse gas emissions from food going to landfills, you can save money both with the cost of production and the money spent on the product, and you can even reduce pest infestations on a large scale.


Elyse (00:00):

Let's talk a little bit more about some of the components here and in the food waste process. The EPA has a food recovery hierarchy and if you take a look at this model it looks kind of just like a pyramid and it identifies different contributors to the food waste process or limiting the food waste process and how large of a part they play in the whole issue. Here we're going to be discussing in this episode a lot about the source reduction portion of that food recovery hierarchy and, if you take a look at that pyramid, the source reduction is actually the largest section of that pyramid. This is because this is the most effective way for organizations and individuals to reduce food waste.


Elyse (00:00):

If you live in a country like the US, the most food waste tends to happen at the consumer level. However if you are in an undeveloped country, or a place with poor roads and infrastructure, quite a bit of the waste actually might be happening just transporting the food to you as the consumer. So in our last episode we talked a lot about the process of composting and how to compost in your household. If you haven't had a chance I recommend giving that a listen as these topics do go hand-in-hand. We spoke a lot about returning food waste nutrients back into the earth so I think it's important to talk about the worst outcome for food waste this week, a landfill.


Elyse (00:00):

So with landfills, we all kind of have a sense of landfills and know that they're gross and not ideal ways of disposing of things. Many traditionally safe quote-unquote landfills were and are not sealed in any way properly. We've had some time over many years to kind of research better ways to contain all of the bad chemicals and things from landfills and so now in a secure landfill, they typically line the landfill with clay all on the bottom and they choose a location on a geographically sound surface.


Elyse (00:00):

In a secure landfill the garbage is typically compacted and covered with a layer of dirt every single day. When this landfill is full it is sealed with more clay, a gravel surface, a network of pipes to catch any leakage or seepage, a plastic mesh layer, and vegetation to contain the soil in the area. And ideally any leakage is collected and purified before being released back into the environment. So if you're getting anything from the whole process I just outlined, the main idea with well-kept landfills is to not let anything out into the environment. Of course this process isn't always perfect but regardless that's the whole idea.


Elyse (00:00):

So by that same basis, the food scraps that if you are putting into the landfill do not decay properly and the nutrients are never returned back to the environment or cycled through the environment. Not only are we depriving our environment of important nutrients that were taking from it, but the food scraps also decompose in landfills to produce greenhouse gases like methane. So when it comes to buying groceries, it is really important to consider the entire production process. It took so many resources for you to have that product and I wanted to use a direct quote from John Mandyck, the chief executive officer of the Urban Green Council, because I think this is a great quote to kind of summarize the food chain. And we're so far removed from it in countries like the United States. So, you know, you don't often consider all of the parts that play into you getting produce and food in your home and on your plate.


Elyse (00:00):

John Mandyck said, “If we eat a strawberry today it came to us from California. It took a lot of carbon to grow that strawberry. The farmer had to go out in the field with a tractor. He had to plow the field under. He had to plant the strawberry and he had to water the strawberry. Then he had to harvest the strawberry using carbon. He had to bring the strawberry from the field, into a packaging place, which burned electricity. It was wrapped in plastic, which is carbon based. Then put on a truck and brought it across the United States, burning carbon. It got to your grocery store and it sat on the shelf. The store is burning carbon just waiting for you to come. Maybe you got in your car and burned carbon to get to the strawberry. You brought it back to your house, put it in your refrigerator, which is plugged in burning carbon, and then you forgot to eat it and it went bad and it got moldy and you threw it away. It would have been better to throw the strawberry away in a field from the carbon standpoint because it was fully carbon loaded when it got to you, the consumer. So we need to understand that it's not just throwing away the strawberry, it's throwing away all the carbon that went into getting the strawberry to you and to me.”


Elyse (00:00):

You know, while maybe it's a little dramatic, it certainly is the reality here that we don't often look at or consider as consumers.


Elyse (00:00):

Let's take a quick pause for a drink break and please take one yourself. Stay hydrated.


Elyse (00:00):

And we are back. So our favorite part. How can you reduce your food waste? While I got a lot of these tips from so many different resources I did want to mention that I got a ton from the EPA. They have so many great tips on sustainable management of food, I highly recommend checking out a few of them because they have so many great tools for household waste measurement. So a lot of the tips that I've compiled consist of the following.


Elyse (00:00):

Don't overbuy. This has to be the hardest to end this issue but only buy what you can realistically cook and eat in a short amount of time. I know that in the past and in previous episodes here on Eco Go Go, I've encouraged buying in bulk but this is only sustainable if you're able to actually use the products before it spoils. So reconsider buying in bulk if it's something that you are having to constantly throw away. Before going to get more groceries, when you are ready to head to the grocery store, check the pantry and the fridge beforehand to avoid buying double of things. This seems like a very simple and silly thing. You think, you know, you think you might know everything that's in your shelves and cabinets but I've certainly experienced this and I could benefit from stopping and taking a look around before heading out the door.


Elyse (00:00):

Make a physical grocery list when you do go to the store. When I say physical I mean don't just keep it all in your head. Put it down somewhere. Obviously here we're talking about sustainability, so I like to use an electronic version of a grocery list. What works for me is using Google Keep. It's a free app that you get if you use the Google Suite and I'm able to just put a little widget on my phone so I can just look at the items on this list from my home screen as I'm walking along in the grocery store. I can check them off.


Elyse (00:00):

Try to plan a week of meals to better prep for the grocery list. When you get home with all of your groceries, be sure to store your fruits and veggies in the proper location and way. And yes there actually are correct ways to store your fresh food. For instance, store your apples, bananas, and tomatoes on their own, separately. Apples, bananas, and tomatoes actually give off gasses as they’re decomposing that can spoil any of your other produce in the area. And store your fruits and veggies separately. If you have settings on your refrigerator doors... drawers on your refrigerator drawers, be sure to set those and store your fruits and veggies accordingly.


Elyse (00:00):

Freeze or preserve any produce that will spoil quickly and keep in mind that some fruits do spoil quickly if they're stored with moisture, like berries. So it's best to wait to wash them until you're closer to eating them. Otherwise they'll mold or deteriorate quickly. For some of your ingredients, try to food prep them for ease of access. Especially fresh ingredients like cucumber, zucchini. This makes it easier to freeze or use in a pinch if you had a long day and just want to get dinner started but you're feeling discouraged.


Elyse (00:00):

I mentioned it a couple times here but you can freeze your ingredients or meals to preserve them, save time, resources, and energy. This is such a big one and especially if you're somebody who doesn't like leftovers or eating the same meal multiple times a week. Doing this lets you reuse and consume all of the food that you're making. And I'm sure it tasted delicious, so why not put it in the freezer and pop it in the microwave after a long day at work?


Elyse (00:00):

Monitor your food. If you have a large batch of ingredients or groceries that might go bad quickly try to keep them in a similar area so you're always looking in that same location. Best-by and use-by dates don't matter if the food appears and smells and tastes okay. The sell-by date is just a guidance for stores and retailers and all of these dates are only measures of the peak quality of the food. So not the safety. As long as it looks, smells, and tastes fine, you're in the clear; don't throw it away just because it's past the sell-by date.


Elyse (00:00):

Another thing you could do with food waste is get creative. You can use veggie scraps and overripe produce to make broth, smoothies, or casseroles. There's so many uses for reusing your waste and recipes. You can turn stale bread or bread ends, if you don't like to eat the bread ends, into croutons, having a night of the week where you just eat leftovers. These are all great ideas. Nothing's really off limits here, just find any creative way that you can reuse and finish all of that delicious meal you just made.


Elyse (00:00):

You can donate certain untouched foods to food banks. And we talked so much about this last week but of course compost your food waste. Please refer to last week's episode for more information on this subject. Those are the main suggestions that I have to reduce your food waste in your household!


Elyse (00:00):

For the Eco Activity this week, with all this dramatic weather change, I have really been getting into the spooky spirit. I recently put up most of my Halloween decorations and felt like I needed some spooky lighting too. So I made sure to purchase some LED lights to put out on my porch. Now, I know the ultimate green choice would be no lights at all, but remember that Eco Go Go is about finding ways to be greener without necessarily sacrificing things you love. Any holiday is inherently wasteful, but let's kick off this one with some green ideas and tips to help you get in the spirit.


Elyse (00:00):

And that's all for this week everyone. If you took a moment to rate or review Eco Go Go after last week's episode, I really appreciate it. If you're enjoying Eco Go Go and want to help other listeners find the show, please take a moment to head over to ratethispodcast.com/ecogogo to rate and review Eco Go Go. It only takes just a minute of your time and it helps so much.


Elyse (00:00):

And just a quick announcement, if you know me you know that rest and relaxation time is so very important to me. So I will be taking a short break with Eco Go Go next week, but please stay tuned and get ready because the next episode will come out on October 7th. And clearly from the Eco activity we will be talking about some spooky things to get in the spirit. So I'm really excited! Please don't hesitate to reach out if there any topics that you are interested in hearing or want to know more about. Special thanks to Richie for all of the show tunes you're hearing and Bronson for the artwork. Thanks again, everyone, and have a great week!