If you find yourself throwing away a lot of old leftovers, expired items, and other food every single time you clean out your refrigerator, you’re not alone. Food waste is a huge problem with a big environmental impact.
Start investing in some gadgets that will greatly reduce your food waste and eventually, all these items will end up paying for themselves by saving you money…and help you save the rest of the world, too. That’s not bad when all you have to do is buy some really cool gadgets for the kitchen that are fun to use anyway.
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What is Food Waste?
Food waste is any edible item that ends up being thrown in the trash. This includes all expired foods and foods that have spilled. Those leftovers in the back of the fridge. That old bottle of dressing sitting in the door. That half loaf of bread that went stale. All this is wasted food, but that’s not all.
Peels, bread crusts, bones, rinds, and food remains that you throw away while you’re cooking are all examples of food waste, too. Some of these items are edible and all of them are completely biodegradable, which means you really shouldn’t be throwing them away. Trash is a pretty big environmental problem. Adding food waste to the pile makes the situation even worse.
How Much Food Does America Waste?
Come on. Throwing away old coffee grounds and leftover lasagna can’t be that big of a deal, can it? How much food is really being wasted anyway? The truth of the numbers may absolutely shock you.
USDA economic research shows that between 30 to 40 percent of the food supply is wasted in the U.S. That’s a staggering amount of food going into the trash. In 2010, this equated to 133 billion pounds of food or about $161 billion worth of food. This is an enormous loss that has extremely far-reaching effects.
Not only is all this food being thrown in the trash that could be going to people who are hungry, but this also represents huge economic losses. Think of all the trucks, time, energy, and people that go into producing, packaging, and moving food around. Think about people supplying food in-store shelves.
All the people involved are being paid. It costs money to power all the machines. It costs money to put fuel into the trucks. It costs money to keep the coolers and freezers powered, to provide lighting for the store. That’s tons of resources that are being wasted.
The EPA estimates that in 2010, 218.9 pounds of food were wasted per person. The goal is to reduce this number by 50 percent by the year 2030, decreasing food waste to 109.4 per person. If that still sounds like a huge number to you, it’s because it is. But why is food waste such a bad thing?
How Does Food Waste Affect the Environment?
Wasting food does waste a lot of resources. But does food waste really have a big impact on the environment? Food waste causes a massive amount of methane. This gas has 21 times more global warming power than carbon dioxide.
And as far as all that wasted food, growing and transporting it produce enough emissions to equal 39 million passenger vehicles spewing carbon pollution into the air. Around the world, the food industry is responsible for about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions.
In other words, food waste is a huge environmental problem. And the cool thing is, anyone can start reducing their food waste at home by using some fun kitchen gadgets. Add a little tech to your kitchen and you can help add years of survivability to planet Earth itself. Not bad, huh?
Waste-Reducing Kitchen Gadgets
The average person could save about $370 per person every single year by eliminating food waste. A four-person household, therefore, would have about $1,500 extra every year. So keep track of what you spend on gadgets and pretty soon, they will pay for themselves.
Vacuum sealers are one of the best ways to preserve food so that it will last longer. They will keep food fresh up to five times longer than standard storage containers and bags. These gadgets seal food inside the plastic, eliminating all air to preserve the moisture and flavor in the food. Vacuum sealers are available for less than $100. When you consider how much food you can save with this device, this is a bargain price.
A simple countertop compost bin is an easy solution for reducing food waste. Put all your food scraps here and regularly empty it into your outdoor compost heap. All your eggshells, rinds, peels, and other food pieces can go here instead of in a landfill. They’ll feed your plants instead of feeding dangerous gasses into the atmosphere. This is a very affordable little gadget that sits easily right on your counter.
Fridge liners are a super cheap and easy solution to food waste that anyone can implement with ease. Place the liners in the bottom of your crisper drawers to encourage air circulation. This keeps fruits and vegetables fresher longer. The liners don’t take up any space and they do a great job of preserving food. It’s a simple easy way to reduce your food waste.
Freshness balls absorb the ethylene gas that is created by produce. The gas speeds up the ripening process. Freshness balls slow down that process and preserve your food for longer. Place one of these balls with your product and you’ll see that it lasts a lot longer. That means you waste a lot less.
Bread boxes seem to have disappeared along with hoop skirts but these centuries-old devices are still around. They’ve lasted this long for a good reason. Bread boxes actually do keep bread fresher longer. Bread boxes create a perfect environment for bread, which helps keep it from going stale.
Reducing Your Food Waste
By reducing your food waste, you’ll save yourself a lot of money and you’ll help the environment, too. You’ll go to the grocery store less and you’ll get more out of the food you buy. You can also show off all your cool kitchen gadgets to your friends and loved ones. With the right gadgets and a little extra effort, you can completely eliminate all of your food waste and get the most out of all the food you buy from now on.
KC Morgan has been a professional freelance writer since 2006. Over the last decade, KC has published thousands of articles and blog posts that have been read by millions. A DIYer in her free time, KC has written hundreds of how-tos, guides and tutorials for different DIY and improvement projects around the house.
KC’s articles have appeared in “Popular Mechanics,” and have been featured on Bob Vila’s website. KC has written in-depth DIY articles for Sears.com and Overstock.com, as well as dozens of other websites. When she’s not writing or DIYing, KC enjoys watching college basketball, playing with her cats and experimenting with new cupcake recipes. Follow KC on Twitter @KCMorganWrites.