Reduce Our Food Waste



Food Waste at Home

Thirty to fifty percent of the food we produce globally—and all of the resources it took to grow it—is wasted. Let’s start there. Make and serve smaller portions. Reuse those leftovers. Give your extra food to other folks. Be especially mindful not to waste meat and dairy.

  • Waste less water- and energy-intensive foods

    When we waste meat and dairy, we are also wasting all of the corn, soy, and hay the animals ate during their lifetime. Use what you buy.

  • Save leftovers and use your freezer

    Freeze or can extra food. Almost anything can be frozen, including milk, cheese, and eggs. Freezing fresh produce and leftovers can save food before it spoils.

  • Be mindful of date labels

    Don’t always throw away food because of the sell-by date. Inspect food carefully for safety, but remember that these dates are often used to tell grocers how long to keep items on shelves.



Food Waste at the Store

American households spend about $2,000 a year on food they ultimately throw away.

  • Plan your menu before shopping

    Buy only the things on your menu. Sticking to your shopping list is one of the most important things you can do. This may mean going to the grocery store more often and buying less food each time.

  • Shop at farmers markets

    Farmers markets allow growers to sell high-quality products that might not meet size or shelf life standards imposed by bigger retailers.



Food Waste at a Restaurant

Take home leftover food from restaurants, work functions, parties, and other outings.

  • Skip the cafeteria tray

    Diners who use extra-large cafeteria trays waste an average of 32 percent more food than those who carry their food servings on an individual plate.

  • Share entrees and side dishes

    Sharing will help keep portions under control. You can always ask wait staff to cut out extras, like bread and butter, you don’t plan to eat.

  • Encourage restaurants and caterers to donate leftovers

    Ask restaurants and caterers if they can donate leftovers to food banks or non-profits such as MealConnect, which picks up excess food from businesses and delivers it to locals in need.



Food Waste in Your Community

In addition to individual actions, working in your community can help play an important role in reducing food waste.

  • Ask your local civic leaders for curbside food scrap collection

    Roughly 200 U.S. communities have curbside pickup for food scraps. Sending food scraps to compost facilities (rather than to landfills) reduces methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas.

  • Encourage lawmakers to standardize date labels on food

    Sell-by, use-by, and best-by dates are manufacturer suggestions for peak freshness and usually have nothing to do with safety—most foods can be safely consumed after these dates have passed. Use your own judgment about food quality and call your local representatives about standardizing labels.