According to the U.S. EPA, “Food is the single largest type of waste going to landfills and incinerators. Americans disposed of approximately 33 million tons of food waste in 2010. When excess food, leftover food, and food scraps are disposed of in a landfill, they decompose and become a significant source of methane—a potent greenhouse gas. Much of the food that is discarded in landfills is actually safe, wholesome food that could have been used to feed people. So when you are thinking about making your family dinner, think about how you can reduce your food waste to save money, help communities, and protect the environment.”
Food waste information for businesses.
Ways to Reduce Wasted Food
- Shop your refrigerator first! Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more.
- Plan your menu before you go shopping and buy only those things on your menu.
- Buy only what you realistically need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
- Be creative! If safe and healthy, use the edible parts of food that you normally do not eat. For example, stale bread can be used to make croutons and beet tops can be sautèed for a delicious side dish.
- Nutritious, safe and untouched food can be donated to food banks to help those in need.
- Freeze, preserve or can surplus fruits and vegetables—especially abundant seasonal produce.
- At restaurants, order only what you can finish by asking about portion sizes and be aware of side dishes included with entrees. Take home the leftovers and keep them for your next meal.
- At all-you-can-eat buffets, take only what you can eat.
- Compost food scraps rather than throwing them away.
- Store your food properly.
For more information, read our Food Waste and Storage Guide and Fruit and Vegetable Storage Guide.
Get the USDA ‘FoodKeeper’ App: Your New Tool for Smart Food Storage.
Just Eat It—A Food Waste Story