Reduce Food Waste
About one-third of the material that goes into the landfill from US homes is food or scraps from food prep. A lot of this type of “waste” is totally preventable. Americans toss about 25% of the food they purchase into the trash can. For an average family, that’s like throwing away $1,600 per year!1
5 Ways to Reduce Food Waste
1. Store food better
The first priority in cutting food waste is reducing it at the source. At home, that may mean buying less, or buying fruits and vegetables in varying degrees of ripeness so everything doesn’t spoil at once. Many sites offer tips & tricks to make food last longer – we’ve compiled a few here.
Save the Food: A Fridge Guide
Produced by CSWD, this fridge guide shows you how to use your refrigerator’s humidity settings to make food last longer. The back contains a list of common fruits & vegetables—and where to store them to maximize your investment. Produced by CSWD.
How to properly store fruits & vegetables
Gives an overview of common types of produce (including “high ethylene producers”, which make other fruits ripen faster), and where to store them to ensure they last as long as possible.
The Shelf Life of Food
Not suitable to print; good for computer viewing. Covers over 30 uncut, unopened, and uncooked fruits, veggies, meats, condiments and other typical fridge foods, and how long you can expect them to last on the counter, or in the fridge or freezer.
A-Z Food Storage Tips
A 9-page guide to 116 different types of perishable produce, meats, and other foods, and the optimal method to store them. Produced by Eureka Recycling.
Developed by the Ad Council, the Food Storage Directory is an online catalog of hundreds of foods with information on how to store them, freeze them, and keep them at their best longer.
An online shelf-life guide that provides a searchable database of almost any type of perishable item, with guidelines for optimal storage conditions to make your food last longer.
Food: Too Good To Waste!
The EPA (along with lots of local partners) developed some fun, useful resources to help you reduce the amount of food you waste at home.
- Take the Food: Too Good To Waste Challenge to find out how much is typically wasted in your home. Then see how much food waste you can prevent by making small shifts in how you shop for, prepare, and store food.
- Before you shop, print the Weekly Shopping List to help plan your trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market.
- Use the Recipe Resource to “Reinvent your Leftovers” and “Cook Once, Eat Twice”.
- Watch their 3-part video series produced by King County on reducing food waste – from the grocery store to your home! See “Media” in the sidebar.
2. Donate food
Donate high quality food to an organization that will make the most of it in feeding hungry people. In Chittenden County, these are a few organizations that accept food donations. Some of the below will accept event leftovers; contact the numbers provided for information on how to donate and how to prepare the leftovers to ensure they are able to be accepted.
Provides a list of Network Partners, including local Food Shelf initiatives.
Provides a monthly five-day supply of groceries to families in need, as well as fresh produce and bread five days per week.
ACCEPTS EVENT LEFTOVERS:
Call: (802) 658-7939
Call in advance to either set up pick up or to confirm a time to drop the food off.
Serves breakfast everyday and dinner Sundays. Can also repackage food to give to clients.
Provides emergency shelter, services, and housing for people who are homeless or marginally housed in Vermont.
ACCEPTS EVENT LEFTOVERS:
Call: (802) 862-5418 (Tim Coleman at the Daystation)
Secondary contact: Gillian at (802)864-7402 x207
Serves lunch 365 days a year.
Compiles a user-curated list of food banks and food pantries around the state of Vermont.
Offers resources and training to individuals or groups who want to start a food recovery program on their college campus.
ACCEPTS EVENT LEFTOVERS:
Call: (802) 864-6991 and dial either ext. 101, 102 or 105
Call to set up a donation time. (Normally accepts donations M-F 9-3, 5-6, and Saturday 2:30-6, but will meet at alternate times with a call.)
Serves dinner Monday through Saturday.
UVM Campus Kitchen
ACCEPTS EVENT LEFTOVERS:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to donate.
Serves meals through Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf on Sunday mornings and at Winooski Teen Center on Tuesday evenings; preps food Thursday evenings.
3. Feed Animals
Feeding food scraps to livestock such as chickens or pigs is the next best recommended use. If you live near a chicken or pig farmer, they may be interested in taking your food scraps. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture does not currently have restrictions or guidelines for feeding food scraps to chickens, but Federal and State law does strictly regulate what may be fed to pigs, and what steps must be taken to ensure that pigs are not fed any meat-related foods nor foods that may have been exposed to areas, equipment or tools that have been in contact with meat.
4. Digest it
Food that is no longer suitable for humans or accessible to livestock can still serve a much better purpose than being wasted in a landfill. Composting is a natural process that creates a rich soil amendment – it enriches soils by introducing nutrients, organic matter and beneficial fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms. It also improves soil structure by reducing compaction, increasing air filtration, and regulating moisture retention and use.
Create a compost pile in your backyard! (No meat, bones, or dairy.)
Ask your hauler when they plan to start curbside collection of food scraps. Beginning in 2017, Act 148 requires that anyone who provides trash and recycling pickup service must also offer pickup service for organics (i.e. food scraps and yard debris).
Anaerobic digestion is a biological process that occurs when organic matter (generally in liquid or slurry form) is decomposed by bacteria in the absence of oxygen (i.e., anaerobically). Anaerobic digestion produces biogas that consists of approximately 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide. In a carefully controlled anaerobic digestion system, this gas can be recovered, treated and used to generate energy in place of traditional fossil fuels. The remaining effluent is low in odor and rich in nutrients.
5. Recover energy
Energy recovery from waste is the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into useable heat, electricity, or fuel through a variety of processes, including combustion, gasification, pyrolization, anaerobic digestion, and landfill gas (LFG) recovery. This process is often called waste-to-energy (WTE).
In Vermont, this is currently the “option of last resort” for food waste usage.
For more info on national programs, visit the EPA’s Energy Recovery from Waste page.
Reduce Food Waste: It’s what we do in Vermont
Act 148 (Vermont’s Universal Recycling & Composting Law, passed unanimously in 2012) requires all organic material – like food scraps and other food waste – to be diverted from the landfill by 2020. The state developed a “recovery hierarchy” to prioritize the ways to both reduce food waste and decide what to do with it after it is generated:
You can read the state’s Swine Feeding Policy here.